Sheila Ann Mary Coates was born on 22 December 1937 in Dagenham, Essex, England. She worked as a typist-secretary at the Bank of England and as a junior researcher for the BBC. In 1959, she married Richard Holland, then a Fleet Street journalist, later a sub-editor of The Times and a classical biographer. She wrote her first book in three days with three children underfoot! In between raising her five children (including a set of twins), she wrote several more novels. She used both her married and maiden names, Sheila Holland and Sheila Coates, before her first novel as Charlotte Lamb, Follow a Stranger, was published by Mills & Boon in 1973. She also used the pennames: Sheila Lancaster, Victoria Wolf and Laura Hardy. A prolific author, Sheila penned more than 160 novels, most of them for Mills & Boon. Since 1977, Sheila had been living as a tax exile on the Isle of Man, where she died suddenly on 8 October 2000 in her baronial-style home 'Crogga'.