In 1930, she enrolled in a drawing class taught by George Demetrios at Boston Museum School. They were married less than a year later, on March 28, 1931. Their first son, Aristides Burton Demetrios, was born on February 17, 1932. The family settled in Folly Cove, the northernmost part of Gloucester, Massachusetts, and their second son, Michael Burton Demetrios, was born on August 30, 1936.
Burton began writing children's books to entertain her sons. Her first book, Jonnifer Lint, was about a piece of dust. It was rejected by thirteen publishers and the reason became clear when she tried to read the story to her 3-year-old son Aris, who fell asleep.
"Children have an avid appetite for knowledge. They like to learn, provided that the subject matter is presented to them in an entertaining manner. The extent of this desire to learn is something of a revelation to me."
- Virginia Lee Burton, “Making Picture Books,” Caldecott acceptance speech, 1943
Much of Burton’s work was drawn from her experiences, but Life Story was a chance to put her life on the page. Her editor and close friend, Lee Kingman said, “[She] was strongly influenced by her physical surroundings and while there has been criticism of her using the same theme more than once it was only natural for her to use what she saw and felt around her. A basic tenet she always upheld to the Folly Cove Designers was: Draw what you see and what you know. Don’t copy, but draw from nature itself.”