Strangers to Us All Lawyers and Poetry

Lew Wallace



Benjamin S. Parker & Enos B. Heiney, Poets and Poetry of Indiana: A Representative Collection of the Poetry of Indiana During the First Hundred Years of its History as Territory and State, 1800 to 1900 (Chicago: Silver, Burdett and Company, 1900)

Lew Wallace was a lawyer, soldier, politician, diplomat, and author. He served in both the War with Mexico and as a Major General during the Civil War. He served Indiana as a state senator, was appointed territorial Governor of New Mexico, and Minister to Turkey. He wrote the novel Ben Hur, one of the most popular novels of the 19th century.

Frank Leslie's Illustrated Famous Leaders and Battle Scenes
of the Civil War
198 (New York: Mrs. Frank Leslie, 1896)

Roger C. Adams, Rare Books Librarian, Kansas State University, when asked if Lew Wallace was a poet, responded as follows:

Lew Wallace was, indeed, a poet. At least three of his poems were set to music. "The Stolen Stars" was written in 1863, published in Harper's Weekly (August 22nd) and then published as sheet music entitled, "The Stolen Stars." One poem from Ben-Hur was set to music and published as "Kapila." Yet another from Ben-Hur was published as "The Lament," "Egyptian Song," and "Song of Iras." Still another was published as "The Song of Tirzah" and "Wake Not, But Hear Me, Love." Wallace also wrote an epic poem, "The Wooing of Malkatoon," first published by Harper in 1898 together with his play "Commodus." To the best of my knowledge, the three poems from Ben-Hur, "The Stolen Stars," and "The Wooing of Malkatoon" are his only works of poetry.

[Roger C. Adams, Rare Books Librarian, Assistant Professor, Special Collections, Hale Library, Kansas State University, Manhattan Kansas, personal communication to James R. Elkins]

Wallace moved to Crawfordsville, Indiana when he was nine years old, where he joined his brother who was attending Wabash college. Crawfordsville, Wallace's adopted home, was also home to another lawyer/poet, Maurice Thompson. Lew Wallace spoke favorably of still another, lawyer/soldier/poet, William O. Butler, of Kentucky.

Lew Wallace and Ben-Hur Home Page

The Passion of Lew Wallace
["The incredible story of how a disgraced Civil War general became one of the best-selling novelists in American history."][John Swansburg, Slate, March 26, 2013]

Lew Wallace: Soldier, Statesman & Scholar

Lew Wallace

Lewis Wallace (1827-1905)

Monocacy National Battlefield

The Trial of Captain Henry Wirz, Commandant, Andersonville Prison, 1865

With permission of Monocacy National Battlefield
National Park Service

Thos. W. Herringshaw, The Biographical Review of Prominent
Men and Women of the Day
(Chicago: Elliott and Beezley, 1889)

[Used with permission of the Florida Center for Instructional Technology]


Song from "Ben Hur"


Lew Wallace, The Wooing of Malkatoon Commodus (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1898)


Lew Wallace, Lew Wallace: An Autobiography (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1906) [online text] (New York: Garrett Press, 1969)


Ben-Hur, a tale of the Christ
(New York: Harper & Bothers, 1901)

Lew Wallace, Ben-Hur, a Tale of the Christ (New York: Harper, 1880)(New York: Dodd, Mead, 1953)(New York: Oxford University Press, 1998)

[Bibliography of editions of Ben-Hur]

Lew Wallace & George Alfred Townsend, Life of Gen. Ben Harrison; also Life of Hon. Levi P. Morton (St. Louis: Riverside Publishing Company, 1888)

Lew Wallace, Fair God; or, the Last of the 'Tzins; a Tale of the Conquest of Mexico (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Co., 1886, 1888)(2 vols.)

__________, The Boyhood of Christ (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1889)

__________, The Prince of India; or, Why Constantinople Fell (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1893)


Ray E Boomhower, Sword & the Pen: A Life of Lew Wallace (Indiana Historical Society, 2005)(biography written for children)

Jim Leeke, Smoke Sound & Fury: The Civil War Memoirs of Major-General Lew Wallace (Oregon: Guidon Press, 1998)

Robert M. Utley, Four Fighters of Lincoln County 61-77 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1986)

Robert E. Morsberger & Katharine M. Morsberger, Lew Wallace Militant Romantic (New York: McGraw Hill, 1980)

Dorothy Ritter Russo & Thelma Lois Sullivan, Seven Authors of Crawfordsville, Indiana: Lew and Susan Wallace, Maurice and Will Thompson, Mary Hannah and Caroline Virginia Krout, and Meredith Nicholson (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society, 1952)

Irving McKee, "Ben-Hur" Wallace: The Life of General Lew Wallace (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1947)

Biographical Sketch

"Wallace, Lewis: 1827-1905," in R. E. Banta, Indiana Authors and Their Books 1816-1916: Biographical Sketches of Authors Who Published During the First Century of Indiana Statehood with Lists of Their Books 328-331 (Crawfordsville, Indiana: Wabash College, 1949)

Major General Lew Wallace

Frank Leslie's Illustrated Famous Leaders and Battle Scenes
of the Civil War
99 (New York: Mrs. Frank Leslie, 1896)

Research Resources

Wallace Manuscript Papers
[pt. II]
Indiana University
Bloomington, Indiana

Wabash College