Alabama Women's Hall of Fame

Augusta Evans Wilson (1835-1909)

Augusta Evans Wilson

Augusta Jane Evans Wilson was an author whose books have been among America's best sellers. She was born in Columbus, Georgia, in 1835, and moved with her parents by covered wagon to San Antonio, Texas when she was a young girl. Later, she and her family moved to Mobile, Alabama, where, at the age of 15, she wrote her first book, Inez, A Tale of the Alamo.

At the age of 18, she wrote her second book, Beulah, which sold over 22,000 copies and established her as Alabama's first professional author. But St. Elmo was to be her most famous novel. Hotels, steamboats, cigars, and even towns were named for it. Literary critics were less than kind, however. One wrote, "the trouble with the heroine of St. Elmo was that she swallowed an unabridged dictionary." This turned out to be a compliment, in spite of the critics, the public loved the idealized heroines and heroes, the eloquent marriage proposals and stern punishments of her novel. St. Elmo was adapted for the stage and screen and ranks as one of the 19th Century's most popular novels.

Augusta Evans Wilson was also the author of Macaria and Vashti. The success of all her novels earned her fame throughout the United States and she financially benefited as well.

During the Civil War, Augusta Evans nursed the sick at Fort Morgan on Mobile Bay, and visited the troops at Chicamauga. She dedicated one of her novels to the brave soldiers of the South.

Augusta Evans married wealthy Colonel Lorenzo Madison Wilson and moved her favorite writing desk to his estate, Ashland, on Springhill Avenue in Mobile. Here she entertained and, following Madame Le Vert's reign, was considered Mobile's First Lady.

Augusta Evans Wilson died in 1909 and was buried in Magnolia Cemetery in Mobile. Her epitaph reads in part: "What has she left? Love, friends, devoted as few mortals can claim. A nation bereft." She truly was a woman with the American spirit.


“Augusta Evans Wilson—Literary Spirit of Alabama.” Mobile Press Register, 24 August 1975, 5B.

Bynum, Rusty. Augusta Evans Wilson: Stateswoman and Author. Huntsville: Writers Consortium Books, 1989.

Evans, Augusta. Infelice, a Novel. New York: G.W. Dillingham Co., 1903.

-----. At the Mercy of Tiberius, a Novel. New York: G.W. Dillingham Co., 1887.

----. A Speckled Bird. New York: G.W. Dillingham Co., 1902.

Fidler, William Perry. Augusta Evans Wilson, 1835-1909: a Biography. University: University of Alabama Press, 1951.

-----. “Augusta Evans Wilson as Confederate Propagandist.” Alabama Review, January 1949, 32-44.

Forrest, Mary. Women of the South: Distinguished in Literature. New York: Charles B. Richardson, 1866.

Lambert, Lane. “Two Lives: A Slave and a Belle Left Their Marks.” Huntsville Times, 26 March 1987, B7.

Sterkx, H.E. Partners in Rebellion: Alabama Women in the Civil War. Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1970.

----. Some Notable Women During the Civil War. Montgomery: The Alabama Centennial Commission, 1962. 60-69.

Who Was Who in America. Vol. 1, 1897-1942. 1359

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Alabama Women's Hall of Fame