Born on Christmas Day 1884 in Pennsylvania, in Tarentum, a small town near Pittsburgh, Florence Evelyn Nesbit was of Scots-Irish ancestry. Even as a child was surprisingly beautiful, but also shy and quiet. She had a younger brother, Howard. The Nesbit family moved, around 1893, to Pittsburgh, when Evelyn was still in school. Her father, the lawyer, Winfield Scott Nesbit, died that year, leaving many debts and the family destitute. For years, the Nesbits lived to the poverty line, but when Evelyn became a teenager, her beauty attracted the attention of numerous local artists who wanted her as a model.
In 1901, when he was sixteen, Evelyn moved to New York with her mother, to live in a small room at 249 W. 22nd Street. But, faced with the difficulties that came to meet in finding a job, Evelyn was able to convince her mother that the solution might be to put down again, this time for the New York artists. Through a letter of introduction, she met the painter James Carroll Beckwith for whom she began working immediately. She was also a model for Frederick S. Church, Herbert Morgan, Gertrude Kasebier, Carl Blennerand, and photographer, Rudolf Eickemeyer, Jr. Evelyn became one of the favorite models by New York artists, she was also the inspiration of Charles Dana Gibson, one of the most popular artists of the country that made an ink sketch in profile of the girl, arranging her red hair as if a question mark. The work, titled "The Eternal Question", remains one of the best known works of Gibson and the model entered the ranks of the famous Gibson Girl.