Maud Jeanne Franc i(50 works by) (birth name: Matilda Jane Congreve) (a.k.a. Maud Jean Franc; Maude Jeanne Franc; Maude Jean Franc; Matilda Jane Evans)
Also writes as: MJE
Born: Established: 27 Aug 1827 Peckham, London,
United Kingdom (UK),
Western Europe, Europe,
; Died: Ceased: 22 Oct 1886 Prospect, Prospect area, Adelaide - North / North East, Adelaide, South Australia,
Gender: Female
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Maude Jeanne Franc was born Matilda Jane Congreve, the second daughter of Dr Henry Congreve and his second wife, Elizabeth Ann Jacob (their first daughter died as an infant). Coming from a gentle background, but in financial difficulties, Henry and Elizabeth, with their daughters Matilda and Emily and their two younger sons, emigrated to Australia on the Chatham in 1852 on assisted passage. Their two older sons had already emigrated to South Australia. Elizabeth died, probably of tuberculosis, on the voyage out, and Henry arrived in very poor health. The family settled in Finniss St, North Adelaide, where Matilda opened a school. Her father died soon afterwards.

The family moved into lodgings and Matilda moved her school to an empty chapel in Kermode Street. Although the school did well, she resigned her licence to teach there and moved to Yunkunga, near Mt Barker, possibly with her sister Emily, and opened a school there. In 1856 she was licensed to a school in Mt Barker. It was at Mt Barker that her first book was published in 1859.

In 1860 she married a Baptist minister, the Rev'd Ephraim Evans, a widower with two small children, and went to live at Nuriootpa. They had two sons, born in 1860 and 1862. In 1863 Ephraim died, leaving her with four small children to care for. She moved to Angaston, and opened a boarding school for girls, and in 1869 moved to North Adelaide and set up a school, Angaston House, in Buxton St, moving to larger premises in 1873 and again in 1879. Her sister Emily joined her in teaching there. She continued writing novels and serials, several of which had a temperance theme.

In 1883 Matilda gave up the school. She became a deaconess in the North Adelaide Baptist Church, moving in 1886 to Prospect, the area in which she worked. She died in the same year, of peritonitis. She was Australia's second woman novelist, and the first to be published in South Australia. A collected edition of her complete works was reprinted in 13 volumes as Australian Tales (1888). As well as the works listed here, Evans wrote a number of devotional pieces (for these see Barbara Wall, Our Own Matilda, pp 199-200).

Her son Harry Congreve Evans became chief of staff of the Advertiser and creator of the social and political weekly, Quiz, and William James Evans, her other son, was also a writer. Her sister, Emily Congreve also wrote.


  • There has been considerable discussion about whether Franc's works should be listed as books for children. While Muir excludes them from her bibliography, they are included in other works dealing with Australian children's books, whilst Morris Miller comments that her books "were written for young people, to whom the author desired to show the Way, the Truth, and the Light" (II, 603). Nevertheless, Barbara Wall, her biographer, is firmly of the opinion that they were intended primarily for adults, although many young people would have read them.

Affiliation Notes

  • Born elsewhere; moved to SA
Last amended 27 Aug 2016 13:01:17
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