Evgenia Tur was born Elizaveta Vasilyevna Sukhovo-Kobylina in Moscow to an aristocratic Russian family. She received a good education at home from various professors from Moscow University.
Her parents took her abroad to prevent an undesirable marriage with a man of lower social status. In 1837 or 1838, in France, she married a French count, Andrei Salias de Tournemire. They settled in Moscow and had three children.
In 1846, her husband was expelled from Russia for participating in a duel. Left behind in Moscow, she began to lead an emancipated life. She hosted a literary salon frequented by many popular writers and literary figures including Ivan Turgenev, and began writing herself under the pen name Evgenia Tur. She is best known for her novel Antonina (1851), one of several Russian works influenced by Jane Eyre. In 1856, she became the editor of the fiction department of the magazine The Russian Messenger, and wrote and published literary criticism and articles on the lives and work of foreign authors. In 1861, she established her own journal, Russian Speech, which lasted 13 months. For her ideas and family connections, she was put under surveillance by the tsarist secret police, and in 1862, she was forced into exile. She settled in Paris for several years, and wrote mostly novels and stories for children and young people.