Although St. Simons Island is rich in history, many people who come to St. Simons do so to find out more about a beloved author, Eugenia Price. Consequently, Tom and I need to know about Eugenia Price in order to answer questions visitors ask at Fort Frederica. Her inspirational novels started a completely new genre – Christian fiction – that didn’t exist before the popularity of her books.
Eugenia Price was born in West Virginia in 1916. Her father was a dentist and her mother a homemaker. Eugenia decided, at an early age, that she wanted to be a writer and her mother encouraged her in this dream. When it came time to further her education, however, Eugenia enrolled in Northwestern Dentistry School in Ohio. After two years of studying dentistry, Eugenia decided that she would rather write. In 1939 NBC hired her to write scripts for radio shows and she moved to Chicago.
In 1949 Eugenia Price had a conversion experience that would change her life and the direction of her writing. After her conversion, she wrote, “Light and eternity and love and all are mine at last.” She started her own production company and began writing scripts for the radio show “Unshackled.” Eugenia also started writing inspirational and devotional books. She became a popular speaker at Christian women’s conferences.
In 1961, while on a book signing tour, Eugenia and her companion Joyce Blackburn, decided to cross the Torras Causeway onto St. Simons Island. They walked around the Christ Church Cemetery and happened upon the gravestones of Anson Dodge, his wives Ellen and Anna, and his child, Genie. Intrigued by the story behind the gravestones, Eugenia Price began researching the family. This book became the first of her St. Simons Trilogy, “Beloved Invader.”
Eventually Eugenia built a house on St. Simons and moved to the island permanently. All together she wrote 63 books including 19 inspirational novels about people in Georgia and northern Florida. She also wrote several books about living on St. Simons. Even though she was reclusive, Eugenia was generous with her time on the island. Whenever she published a new book, she would have her first book signing at the Coastal Georgia Historical Society. A portion of the profits from each book went to preserve the historical buildings on St. Simons Island. Today her books are sold in every bookstore and gift shop on the island.
Eugenia Price died in 1996 and is buried in Christ Church Cemetery, the place she found the inspiration for her first inspirational novel. She is buried beside Joyce Blackburn not far from the gravestones of the Anson Dodge family. Even though she has been dead for 20 years, her voice and witness live on through her books.