Kathleen Winsor was born in a small town in Minnesota and raised in Berkeley, California. She attended the University of California at Berkeley where, at age 17, she married Robert Herwig, a star football player. His senior thesis on King Charles II of England inspired her to read hundreds of books on the subject. She began writing Forever Amber, her first book, in 1940, at the age of 20, and went through numerous drafts of the manuscript. The saga of beautiful Amber St. Clare and her romantic adventures in the world of Restoration-era London was nearly 1,000 pages long when it was finally published in 1944. It was an immediate hit with the public and sold 100,000 copies in the first week. It eventually sold more than 3 million copies and was translated into 16 languages. The runaway bestseller made Kathleen Winsor wealthy and a celebrity. She left Herwig and married as his sixth wife the big-band leader Artie Shaw. She went on to divorce and remarry a few more times. Forever Amber was made into a daring, high-profile film directed by Otto Preminger. Kathleen Winsor continued to write but never recaptured the popularity of her first novel.