V. Kretovsky was the pen name of Nadezhda Dmitryevna Khvoshchinskaya, born into a family of Russian gentry in the province of Ryazan, where her father was a civil servant. She was educated mostly at home by tutors. She was close to her younger sister Sofia, who also became a writer and her partner in some works. Nadezhda published her first poems at age 18 in 1842. Her debut novel Anna Mikhailovna (1850) appeared under her pseudonym of V. Krestovsky. With her writing, she supported herself and, after her father's death in 1856, her mother and sisters, and eventually her deceased brother's children as well. She produced many novels, including The Boarding School Girl (1861), which was highly popular, and contributed stories and literary criticism to Notes of the Fatherland, The Contemporary, and other leading periodicals. For much of her adult life, she suffered from health problems worsened by progressive scoliosis. In about 1865, she married a doctor and former political dissident named Zayonchkovsky, who was 14 years her junior; however, the marriage was unhappy. He died in 1872, likely from tuberculosis. She also was known for her translations of the works of French writers, including George Sand. She lived most of her life in Ryazan, visiting St. Petersburg once or twice a year to see her writer and artist friends such as Ivan Turgenev.