The sisters Evangeline and Francesca French were born to an Anglo-French family and were educated mainly in Geneva. Francesca came early to Christian faith; Eva experienced years of rebellion that ended in the 1890s.
Going to China under the China Inland Mission (CIM) in 1895, Eva found herself in the center of the Boxer uprising in Shansi (Shanxi) Province and the leader of a group of women who escaped with their lives. In 1901 she met the younger CIM recruit, Mildred Cable, and the two were never to be separated. They returned to Hwochow (present-day Xinjiang) in Shansi to help rebuild the shattered church.
Francesca had remained in England with their widowed mother, but at the mother's death she became the third member of the trio, and coauthor, with Mildred Cable, of many books. From this point until Cable's death in 1952, the three lived and worked together.
From 1913 they turned their attention to Kansu (Gansu) Province, Chinese Turkestan (Xinjiang Uygur), and the Gobi Desert. In the 1920's they took into their home a Tartar girl, known as Topsy, who proved to be a deaf mute. She lived with them for the rest of their lives and was especially close to Eva. In the 1930s political unrest increased and they were compelled to leave Suchow (Jiuquan), their base in Kansu.
In August 1936 they made their last journey home by the Trans-Siberian railway and retired together in Hampstead, Dorset, England. Francesca continued to write and travel with Mildred. Eva, the leader of the trio in China, stayed at home with Topsy. They were able to use their reputation as pioneering women travelers to gain publicity and support for the CIM, for the British and Foreign Bible Society, and above all for the gospel. Eva died in Dorset, Francesca at their Hampstead home three weeks later.