Major General Lew Wallace, Author of Ben-Hur

By | May 7, 2019

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General Lew Wallace. Source: (

General Lew Wallace was the author who wrote Ben-Hur in 1880. The popular classic version of Ben-Hur was the 1959 production with Charlton Heston, who also played Moses in The Ten Commandments. That production was a blockbuster hit that cost $15 million and won 11 Academy Awards.

Early Days

Lew Wallace was born in 1827 in Indiana. His father was in the military and then a lawyer before being elected into the Indiana House of Representatives in 1828 and eventually becoming the governor. His father sent him to a private academy which enhanced his writing ability. After leaving school at age 16 to work in a records office, he eventually went into the military.  

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Major/General Lew Wallace, Author of Ben-Hur. Source: (

Like his father, Lew Wallace also had an interest in law but he went back into the military during the Mexican-American War and became a lieutenant. When he got out of the military, he returned to the field of law and in 1849, was admitted to the bar. In 1852, he married Susan Arnold Elston and together, they had one son who was born in 1853. By 1858, he was elected to the Indiana Senate.

Wallace was on the commission during the time they were investigating the assassination of President Lincoln. For a while, he left to serve in the Mexican army as a major general but came back to the United States to practice law again.