Eugenia Price’s bestselling historical romances have introduced an immense and loyal audience worldwide to Georgia’s beloved “Golden Isles,” an achievement in Georgia literary history that approaches the likes of Gone With the Wind, Tobacco Road and The Color Purple
The New York Times’ 1996 obituary of Price, who died in Brunswick at the age of 80, captured the phenomenon of Price’s legacy to Georgia:
“Her hoop-skirted heroines tended to be too unremittingly beautiful, her handsome heroes a shade too dashing and their problems a bit too easily solved for Ms. Price to have won serious literary acclaim. But then again, how many acclaimed authors sell more than 40 million books in 18 languages?
“That Ms. Price did just that was a tribute both to her ability as a storyteller and her knack for recreating a bygone era with such compelling and authentic historic detail that, according to the St. Simons' Chamber of Commerce, a substantial majority of the thousands of tourists who visit the island each year come there specifically to scout out the houses, marshes and other locales she used in her novels, not to mention the headstones of the actual people she brought back to life as fictional characters.”
Eugenia “Genie” Price was born June 22, 1916, in Charleston, West Virginia, to Anna Davidson and Walter Wesley Price, a dentist. After college in the Midwest, she became a successful writer of radio dramas, then the head of her own production company in Chicago in 1945. In 1949 she was born again as a Christian, and spiritual principles led her to turn her energy to writing, directing and producing Unshackled, a WGN radio show that dramatized stories of lives transformed by Christian faith. Unshackled’s success led Price into a new career: author and speaker on the inspirational circuit. Her first book, a collection of her Unshackled scripts, was published in 1952 and, beginning with Discoveries Made from Living My New Life (1953), a compilation of columns she had written for evangelical publications, Price would go on to publish thirty self-help and inspirational Christian books in her lifetime.
Price’s career as a Georgia author of bestselling historical romances began in 1961. That year, Price and her friend and fellow author Joyce Blackburn visited Georgia’s “Golden Isles” while on a book-signing tour for Price’s most recent inspirational book, Beloved World. Intrigued by a guidebook story, they visited St. Simons Island’s Christ Church, which they learned had been wholly rebuilt in 1884 from Civil War ruins, the labor of love of a young, widowed minister from the North. Price’s desire to write about uncelebrated people whose lives and loves had somehow touched others, was her inspiration to tell this story in a novel. She plunged into research and conducted interviews with longtime island residents, descendants of the young minister, and in 1965 she published what became the first book in a trilogy. The Beloved Invader told the story of the minister, Anson Greene Phelps Dodge Jr., his first wife Ellen and his second wife, Anna Gould Dodge. The abundant material Price had gathered led in turn to two more novels – New Moon Rising (1969) and The Lighthouse (1971) – in which Price worked further back in time to tell the stories of Anna Gould’s ancestors in the first half of the nineteenth century.
Price spent two seasons on St. Simons doing research from a rented cottage, and the island’s charm convinced her and Blackburn to move there permanently. They bought property and build a house – which they named “Dodge” -- on the island. Over the next three decades, she and Blackburn adopted the island as it adopted them. Price and Blackburn joined the conservation fight to protect the island's natural resources, while the extraordinary popularity of Price’s St. Simons stories in turn generated an enthusiasm for island history that fueled the creation of the Coastal Georgia Historical Society.
Price would follow her St. Simons trilogy with three more fictional series drawn from the history of the Florida-Georgia coast.
Don Juan McQueen (1974), Maria (1977), and Margaret's Story (1980) drew on stories Price created from her characteristically deep research into the lives of men and women who settled the reaches of northern coastal Florida, in St Augustine and along the St Johns River, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Her “Savannah Quartet” -- Savannah (1983), To See Your Face Again (1985), Before the Darkness Falls (1987), and Stranger in Savannah (1989) – tells that Georgia city’s story through the lives of three historical families Price envisioned in the period from the War of 1812 through the Civil War. Her “Georgia trilogy” -- Bright Captivity (1991), Where Shadows Go (1993), and Beauty from Ashes (1995) -- tracks another painstakingly researched family history through the same antebellum-to-civil-war period, this time on St. Simons. Price’s final novel, published posthumously in 1997, explored the complex feelings among Southerners about slavery in a completely fictional tale of a Boston widow who finds herself the owner of a slave-driven rice plantation in the period immediately preceding the civil war.
Eugenia Price died May 28, 1996, in Brunswick, Georgia of congestive heart failure and is buried in the Christ Church cemetery, Frederica, Georgia. Many of her books remain in print and have translated into 17 languages, charming readers of all ages and nationalities Her manuscripts are housed at Boston University .
Together with Joyce Blackburn, an award-winning biographer and author of children's books, Price established the Eugenia Price–Joyce Blackburn Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose proceeds fund grants and scholarships, support charitable organizations, and create programs that promote excellence in writing.
Photograph of Eugenia Price by Merriam A. Bass.
The following editions of works by Eugenia Price are held by UGA’s Hargrett Library:
Unshackled : Stories of Transformed Lives. (With and Faith Coxe Bailey) Chicago : Moody, 1953.
Discoveries Made from Living My New Life. Grand Rapids, Zondervan Pub. House, 1953.
Christmas Is for Our Sake! Grand Rapids, Mich.]: Family Christian, 1955.
The Burden Is Light! : The Autobiography of a Transformed Pagan Who Took God at His Word. Westwood, N.J. : F.H. Revell, 1955.
Never a Dull Moment. Grand Rapids, Zondervan Pub. House, 1955.
Early Will I Seek Thee. Westwood, N. J. F. H. Revell, 1956.
Share My Pleasant Stones Every Day for a Year. Grand Rapids, Zondervan Pub. House, 1957.
Woman to Woman. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 1959.
Beloved World: The Story of God and People as Told from the Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 1961.
A Woman's Choice. Grand Rapids, Zondervan Pub. House, 1962.
Find out for Yourself : Young People Can Discover Their Own Answers. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1963.
God Speaks to Women Today. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 1964.
What Is God Like? Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Pub. House, 1965.
The Beloved Invader. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1965.
The Beloved Invader. London: Heinemann, 1966.
The Wider Place. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Pub. House, 1966.
Make Love Your Aim. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 1967.
Just as I Am. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1968.
Learning to Live from the Gospels. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1968.
New Moon Rising. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1969.
The Unique World of Women, in Bible times and Now. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 1969.
Discoveries Made from Living My New Life. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1970.
Learning to Live from the Acts. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1970.
New Moon Rising. New York: Bantam, 1970.
Lighthouse. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1971.
No Pat Answers. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 1972.
Lighthouse. New York : Bantam, 1972.
The Beloved Invader. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1973.
The Burden Is Light! Boston: G. K. Hall, 1973.
Don Juan McQueen. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1974.
The Unique World of Women ... in Bible times and Now. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1974.
Maria. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1977.
St. Simons Memoir. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1978.
Leave Your Self Alone. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 1979.
Diary of a Novel. New York: Lippincott & Crowell, 1980.
Margaret's Story. New York: Lippincott & Crowell, 1980.
At Home on St. Simons. Atlanta, Ga.: Atlanta, Ga. : Peachtree, 1981.
The Burden Is Light. New York: Dial, 1982.
Getting through the Night. New York: Dial, 1982.
Early Will I Seek Thee : Journal of a Heart That Longed and Found. New York: Dial, 1983.
Savannah. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1983.
What Really Matters. New York: Dial, 1983.
Another Day. Garden City, N.Y.: Dial, 1984.
Savannah. New York: Berkley Pub. Group, 1984.
To See Your Face Again : A Novel. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1985.
Lighthouse. Nashville, Tenn.: Rutledge Hill, 1985.
Before the Darkness Falls. New York: Doubleday, 1987.
Guale : The Sacred Landscape. (With James Valentine)Atlanta: Peachtree, 1988.
Stranger in Savannah. New York: Doubleday, 1989.
Bright Captivity. New York: Doubleday, 1991.
Inside One Author's Heart. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
Where Shadows Go. New York: New York : Doubleday, 1993.
Beauty from Ashes. New York: Doubleday, 1995.
The Waiting Time. New York: Doubleday, 1997.
The Waiting Time. New York: St. Martin's Paperbacks, 1998.
Lighthouse. Franklin, TN: Providence House, 1999.
Maria. Franklin, TN: Providence House, 1999.
The Beloved Invader. Franklin, TN: Providence House, 2000.
New Moon Rising. Franklin, TN: Providence House, 2000.
Margaret's Story.Nashville, Tennessee : Turner Publishing Company, 2012.
Beauty from Ashes. Nashville, Tennessee : Turner Publishing Company, 2017.
Boston University's Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center is home to the principal collection of manuscripts, correspondence and memorabilia of Eugenia Price.
The Coastal Georgia Historical Society holds photographs, documents, and artifacts related to Eugenia Price's St. Simons Trilogy.
A collection of Eugenia Price's manuscripts previously housed at the Kennesaw University Archives are now permanently located in the Georgia Historical Society Research Center in Savannah.