St. Elmo (novel)

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Augusta Jane Evans.
A a frame from the lost film St. Elmo (1914), based on the novel by Augusta Jane Evans.

St. Elmo is a novel by American author Augusta Jane Evans published in 1866. Featuring the sexual tension between the protagonist St. Elmo, a cynical man, and the heroine Edna Earl, a beautiful and devout girl, the novel became one of the most popular novels of the 19th century. The novel sold a million copies within four months of its publication.

Augusta Jane Evans (May 8, 1835 – May 9, 1909) finished her celebrated novel at El Dorado, a historical home in Columbus, Georgia. In 1878, the home was purchased by Captain and Mrs. James J. Slade who changed its name to St. Elmo in honor of the novel which it had inspired.[1]

In popular culture[edit]

The novel St. Elmo was frequently adapted for both the stage and screen. It inspired the naming of towns, hotels, steamboats, and a cigar brand. The book's heroine Edna Earl became the namesake of Eudora Welty's heroine (Edna Earle Ponder) in The Ponder Heart published in 1954.

The novel also inspired a parody of itself called St. Twel'mo, or the Cuneiform Cyclopedist of Chattanooga (1867) by Charles Henry Webb.[2]

A film and website on Augusta Evans Wilson entitled The Passion of Miss Augusta[3] was produced by Alabama filmmaker Robert Clem and aired on public television in 2016, the 150th anniversary of the publication of St. Elmo.

Film adaptations

The novel has inspired the production of a number of films. These include in chronological order:


  1. ^ National Register of Historic Places,
  2. ^ Harris, Susan K. Nineteenth-Century American Women's Novels: Interpretative Strategies. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990: 60. ISBN 0-521-38288-2
  3. ^ Foundation for New Media Inc. - The Passion of Miss Augusta

External links[edit]