Augusta Jane Wilson, née Evans, was born into a large family in Columbus, Georgia. She received little formal education but was a voracious reader from an early age. Her father went bankrupt and lost the family's estate in the 1840s, and moved his family to San Antonio, Texas. In 1850, at age 15 she wrote the novel Inez: A Tale of the Alamo, which was published anonymously in 1855. During the Mexican-American War, the family moved to Mobile, Alabama. Her next novel, Beulah, published in 1853, was a bestseller and established her as a professional author. During the Civil War, Augusta Evans became a staunch Southern patriot and was active as a propagandist. She broke off her engagement to James Reed Spalding, a New York journalist because he supported the Union. She went to Fort Morgan on Mobile Bay to nurse sick and wounded Confederate soldiers, sewed sandbags for the defense of the town, wrote patriotic speeches, and set up a hospital near her home. Her propaganda masterpiece was Macaria (1864), popular on both sides of the Mason–Dixon line. Her most famous novel was St. Elmo (1866) a bestseller that inspired the naming of hotels, steamboats, and a cigar brand, and was adapted for both the stage and film. After the war, Augusta married Colonel Lorenzo Madison Wilson, a Confederate veteran, 27 years her senior, becoming Mrs. Augusta Evans Wilson, the name by which she is remembered. Her husband became vastly wealthy and she became the first lady of Mobile society. She wrote more novels and is now considered a pillar of Southern literature.