Eva Sallis is the daughter of Richard Hornung, who was born in Palestine to a German family, and his wife Briar (Mitcalfe) who was born in New Zealand. She has five brothers and three sisters, many of whom are professional musicians.
Sallis has an MA (1991, on the poetry of T. S. Eliot and the philosophy of F. H. Bradley) and a PhD (1996) on the various versions of the 1001 Nights, both from the University of Adelaide. She has published several academic articles and reviews, and a book of literary criticism, Sheherazade Through the Looking Glass: The Metamorphosis of the 1001 Nights (Curzon, UK 1999). She has a working knowledge of German, French and Arabic and has travelled many times to the Middle East, furthering Arabic studies. She travels regularly to Yemen, in particular. Sallis has been awarded a number of grants and awards for her work, including an ArtsSA Emerging Artists Grant in 1998 and an AustralianCouncil Literature Fund grant in 2000.
Since 1989 Sallis has worked at times in all three South Australian universities; researching, tutoring and lecturing mainly in English, but also in Communication and the Media, and in Arab Culture and Architecture. In 1997 she co-founded the assessment service Driftwood Manuscripts.
In 2008, Sallis reverted to her maiden name, Eva Hornung.