Matthew Evans, Augusta’s father, moved his family to Mobile in 1854 after going bankrupt in Columbus, Georgia and failing to make a go of it in the dangerous frontier town of San Antonio, Texas.   In Mobile Augusta was able to gain access to more extensive libraries.    It was in Mobile at age fifteen than she began writing novels and it was here she wrote them all, though she often set them in other locations.      

After the war and the phenomenal success of St. Elmo, she led a campaign to bring Mobilians killed in the war back to the city for burial in Magnolia Cemetery at what came to known as Confederate Rest.   After her father’s death she married her neighbor Colonel Lorenzo Wilson, twenty seven years her senior.  She moved from Georgia Cottage, which she’d bought from the proceeds of her second novel Beulah in 1859, to Ashland, Wilson’s lavish estate nearby.

Octavia LeVert had been the reigning social queen in Mobile before the war but reportedly lost favor for being too gracious toward the Union officers who occupied Mobile after the South’s defeat.   Augusta Evans Wilson, as she was now, carried the burden of the Lost Cause; local sentiment apparently was more in line with her views than Madame Levert’s.   Miss ‘Gusta became the new destination for visitors to Mobile and she graciously permitted these intrusions into her private life, with at least one exception in the form of Oscar Wilde, who offended her unbending sense of morality. Augusta is buried in Magnolia Cemetery not far from the Confederate veterans whose loss she never forgot.   She was, as Fidler puts it, an ‘arch-rebel’ but also perhaps the original steel magnolia.

Click on the links in the left sidebar or on the chapter headings below:

Miss 'Gusta gets married

Community Leader

Memories of Georgia Cottage

Augusta and Oscar Wilde

Ashland: Domestic Bliss