Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Wallace mss., 1865-1949, consist of letters and papers of Lewis Wallace, 1827-1905, lawyer, soldier, diplomat, and author, commonly known as Lew Wallace.

Career: born at Brookville, Indiana, April 10, 1827; son of David Wallace, governor of Indiana, and Esther French (Test) Wallace; before he was sixteen he began to support himself by copying records in the county clerk's office; reported the proceedings of the Indiana House of Representatives for the Indianapolis Daily Journal, 1844- 1845; soon afterwards began study of law in his father's office; in Mexican war raised a company of which he became a second lieutenant and which was assigned to the 1st Indiana Infantry; admitted to the bar in 1849; began practice in Indianapolis; soon moved to Covington; in 1850 and 1852 elected prosecuting attorney there; in 1852 married Susan Arnold Elston, 1830-1907; moved to Crawfordsville, Indiana, 1853; elected to Indiana State Senate, 1856; after the firing on Fort Sumter, Governor Oliver P. Morton appointed him adjutant-general of Indiana; went to the front as a colonel of the 11th regiment; rose to the rank of major-general; following the war returned to law practice in Crawfordsville; governor of New Mexico, 1878-1881; minister to Turkey, 1881- 1885; died in Crawfordsville, February 15, 1905. Author of: The Fair God, 1873; Ben-Hur, 1880; The Life of Benjamin Harrison, 1888; The Boyhood of Christ, 1888; The Prince of India, 1893; The Wooing of Malkatoon, 1898; Commodus, [1876]; Lew Wallace, An Autobiography, 1906.

Included in the collection are an illuminated manuscript of the Koran presented to Lew Wallace by Abdul Hamid II, Sultan of Turkey; a draft in Wallace's hand of that portion of The Fair God which appears in the published work as book 7, chapters XII and XIII and part of chapters XI and XIV; a copy of Wallace's inscription in the copy of Ben-Hur presented to Abdul Hamid II, Sultan of Turkey; correspondence of Lew Wallace, 1865-1904; correspondence and contracts relating to the film rights of Ben-Hur, 1899-1934; a photograph of Lew Wallace; and a printed copy of Nat Ward Fitzgerald's Ben-Hur: A Poem Written on the Play.

Correspondents represented in the collection include George Brown, Daniel Butterfield, Jose M.J. Carvajal, Will I. Cunningham, Porfirio Diaz, Frederick Temple Hamilton-Temple Blackwood, marquis of Dufferin and Ava, Winfield Taylor Durbin, Charles Warren Fairbanks, Marcus Alonzo Hanna, William Henry Hurlbert, Samuel B. Lawrence, Benson John Lossing, Charles Major, Mavroyeni Bey, Weir Mitchell, A. Rocoffort, Prince Rudolph, William Tecumseh Sherman, Philippine von Struve and John Virtue.

Collection size: 106 items

Related manuscripts: Wallace mss. II

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.