33 posts

Josiah K. Lilly, Jr.

Ben-Hur & J.K. Lilly, Jr.

In the mid-1930s, Josiah K. Lilly, Jr., noted Indianapolis philanthropist and partner in the Eli Lilly pharmaceutical business, acquired papers and memorabilia significant in Indiana history. He purchased the original manuscript of Ben-Hur, hand-written in purple ink by Lew Wallace, from the author’s grandson, Lew Wallace, Jr. Mystery of the […]

Ben-Hur the galley slave

The Mystery Statue

At least eight important sculptors (not counting the General himself) have contributed to the artistry of the General Lew Wallace Study. Inside the building reside a bust of Wallace created by Randolph Rogers, a statue of Ben-Hur the galley slave done by George Peterson in 1888, and two plaster studies […]

Ben-Hur on the London Stage

In March of 1901, Klaw and Erlanger announced their arrangement with Arthur Collins, the director of London’s Drury Lane Theater, to take the play to England. Collins had travelled to New York to stage a play, but also to secure the rights to Ben-Hur. Ben Teal and A.L. Erlanger were to […]

William Farnum as Judah Ben-Hur

William Farnum & Ben-Hur

The play Ben-Hur opened on Broadway in 1899. Edward Morgan took the stage as Ben-Hur and William S. Hart portrayed Messala. Lew Wallace attended the opening night performance at the Broadway Theater and, like the rest of the audience, was pleased with the dramatic presentation of his work. An opening […]

Ben-Hur vs. Twilight

“So Ben-Hur was the Twilight of the 1800s.” Out of the mouths of babes – an eighth-grader on a recent school visit made a striking connection between the popularity of Lew Wallace’s masterwork and the rise of new novels made into films. One aspect of the Ben-Hur legacy is merchandising […]