Born: April 10, 1827, in Brookville, Indiana, United States
Died: February 15, 1905, in Crawfordsville, Indiana, United States
Lew Wallace was the son of an Indiana governor. He worked as a clerk of the county after leaving school at the age of 16. In his spare time he was an avid reader studying for the bar in his father's law office.
Wallace served as an officer in the Mexican War from 1846 to 1847. He returned to Indiana after the war and was a practicing attorney in Indianapolis by 1849.
During the Civil War, Lew attained the rank of major general while serving in the Union Army. In this position he presided over military courts and was on the judicial body that tried those charged with conspiring to assassinate President Lincoln. When the war was over Wallace returned to Indiana where he resumed his law practice.
The Fair God, Lew Wallace's first book, was published in 1873. From 1878 to 1881, he held the position of governor of New Mexico Territory. It was during this period that his world-wide success Ben Hur: A tale of the Christ was published in 1880. The book was inspired by a conversation Wallace had with Robert Ingersoll regarding the divinity of Christ.
From 1881 to 1885 Wallace was a diplomat serving as a minister to Turkey. After his retreat from public life, he continued to write. His association with the Middle East inspired the book The Prince of India, published in 1893.