Evelyn Nesbit was born in the small town of Tarentum, Pennsylvania in 1884.1During her childhood, her father struggled to provide for the family. 2Following his death, Evelyn and her mother were penniless, and in need of a new source of income.3At the age of 13, Evelyn’s mother allowed her to begin posing as a muse for artists around Pittsburgh.4Her beauty and youth quickly escalated her career, and shortly after her father’s death Evelyn became the main provider for her family.5Within three short years, the demand for her modeling became so great that her mother moved the family to New York for higher paying opportunities.6
As a natural beauty and a popular muse, Evelyn came into contact with many famous New Yorkers.7At the age of sixteen, she was introduced to famous architect, Stanford White.8White sought Evelyn out for her beauty, after seeing her perform on broadway.9
Afterwards, Stanford White began inviting her to many of his parties.10His wealth was extended to Evelyn and her mother, as he flourished them both with luxurious gifts and money.11Evelyn’s mother began to refer to him as their “benefactor.”12Within two months of meeting Stanford White, Evelyn’s mother trusted him to care for her daughter, as she travelled to Pittsburgh for a week.13While enjoying the lifestyle she was never able to afford in Pennsylvania, Evelyn was completely unaware of White’s true intentions.
Within a few days of her mother’s absence, Stanford White invited Evelyn to a party at his apartment.14However, when she arrived, he was the only person in attendance.15He began to offer her drinks and before long the sixteen year old was unconscious.16While she was passed out, fifty year old Stanford White took her virginity.17Evelyn continued to have a relationship with Stanford White afterwards, and he continued to lavish her with gifts.18Later in her life she would write, “Stanford White was a great man…That he did me wrong, that from certain moral standards he was perverse and decadent, does not blind my judgment.”19
Evelyn’s mother was very trusting of Stanford White, although her friends claimed that “she keenly realized the perils that beset the feet of beautiful young girls.”20She urged the relationship to continue, and would eventually force Evelyn to cut ties with a younger love interest of lower status. 21Over the next year and a half, Evelyn’s mother greatly benefitted from her daughter’s relationship with the wealthy architect.