The original “steel magnolia,” Augusta Jane Evans (1835-1909) overcame her family’s poverty to compete in the world of men. She was a product of the ante-bellum South; women were expected to marry and remain at home. Publishing her first novel at age 16, Evans proudly proclaimed she would never marry but would pursue her dreams of being a professional author. She insisted on women’s right to be educated, to be heard on important issues of the day and to influence the direction of society. During the Civil War, settled in Mobile, Alabama, she was a strong advocate of the Confederate cause -- and a ferocious critic of the men elected to be its leaders. With novels directed mostly at women, Evans would become one of the three best-selling American authors of the nineteenth century.

Evans’ fifth novel St. Elmo (1866) sold more than one million copies and was the basis of no less than four Hollywood films during the silent era. According to critic Diane Roberts, Evans set out to make the South as romantic and exciting as the Bronte sisters made the Yorkshire moors. Evans’ romance novels are rarely read today, but scholars such as Nina Baym see Evans as an early feminist and her fiction as a forerunner of what came to called Southern Gothic. The Passion of Miss Augusta interweaves Evans’ life with that of her heroine Edna Earl in St. Elmo, who like Augusta Evans after the traumatic experience of the Civil War, did marry after all.

Where to See the Film

The Passion of Miss Augusta is available on YouTube and Vimeo.

Film Trailer

Major Funders

Funded by the Alabama Humanities Foundation, a state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities, the A.S. Mitchell Foundation, Ben May Charitable Trust, Daniel Foundation of Alabama, C.D., Helen and Jeff Glaze Foundation, J.L. Bedsole Foundation, Monte Moore Foundation, Erie Meyer Fund in honor of Mrs. Erie Meyer, and the Hearin-Chandler Foundation.