(April 10, 1827 – February 15, 1905) was a lawyer, governor, Union general in the American Civil War, American statesman, and author, best remembered for his historical novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.
Wallace became known throughout the world, however, for his Christian novel "Ben Hurr" He had been interested in writing from youth. At age 15 he wrote a novel about chivalry in the Crusades. After the war while on a train trip, he had a discussion with an agnostic who questioned his faith. In response, he began a study of the ancient Jews. He determined to write a novel to penetrate the mysteries of the Nativity, Magi, and life of Christ.
On November 12, 1880, while Governor of New Mexico Territory, he submitted his novel "Ben Hurr" to publishers and to his dying day considered it his most important achievement. The success of the novel was remarkable. In 1893 it received a rating of 83% for popularity by libraries. By the end of the decade, with sales of 400,000, it was a standard in schools. It was the most illustrated novel ever published with almost 1,000 illustrations. It was endorsed by Christian around the world, and for many Protestant Evangelical homes, Ben Hurr was the first novel to be allowed in the household. Sears and Roebuck ordered one million copies in 1933. It has been translated into many languages. It had a dramatic influence on The Rev Lloyd C Douglas who wrote the Robe in 1942, which became the second best-selling Christian novel. The book has never been out of print. It has been performed on the stage and screen, and is a perennial favorite. Wallace died on February 15, 1905.
Commemoration of Lewis Wallace - General, Confessor and Novelist
O Almighty God, who inspired thy servant Lewis Wallace to write the novel Ben Hurr, and thus help bring the Gospel story to men and draw them to thy Kingdom, grant that we might likewise confess and witness our faith before all men. We ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, in whom all our intercessions are acceptable through the Spirit, and who liveth and reigneth for ever and ever. Amen.
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