Augusta Jane Evans was the firstborn child of Matthew Evans and Sarah Howard Evans of Columbus, Georgia.  Matt Evans had migrated from his family’s plantation in South Carolina to Columbus two years after that city’s founding in 1828.    Creeks and other Indian tribes resisted the white man’s encroachment and Augusta witnessed episodes of frontier violence during this time.

Evans bought some land across the border in Alabama and started a plantation while running a profitable mercantile firm in Columbus.  He married Sarah Howard from a prominent Georgia family.   Matt and Sarah erected a large mansion called Sherwood Hall with expensive furnishings, completing it when Augusta was a year old.    The house would later be known as ‘Matt’s Folly.’  Beginning when Augusta was not yet ten, her family began its decline from riches to rags.

Augusta, like many a Victorian heroine, would reverse that destiny.   According to her biographer William Perry Fidler, her story “is American to the core: rise from poverty to mansion luxury,” affirming the Victorian idea that “virtue, attended by circumspection, must inevitably find its reward.”   But Augusta’s story is actually mansion luxury to poverty and back again.    It was her father’s failure that inspired her to write popular novels that she hoped would rescue the family after its long years of financial distress.

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

Life on the frontier

The (un)Educated Victorian Woman

Augusta goes to work

First novel: Inez, A Tale of the Alamo