Five Fascinating Facts about Ben-Hur

Interesting Literature

Interesting facts about the Lew Wallace book Ben-Hur, and its subsequent life on film

1. It was the bestselling American novel of the nineteenth century. Lew Wallace’s novel Ben-Hur (1880) even outsold that other runaway bestseller, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852). And this was despite slow sales: in the first seven months it didn’t even shift 3,000 copies. The novel’s protagonist, Judah Ben-Hur (a figure invented by Wallace, and not someone who is known in history), is a Jewish nobleman and prince who, when he is taken slave by the Romans (fitted up on a false charge of attempted murder, when a piece of his roof accidentally dropped on the Roman parade passing his house) and becomes a charioteer in the Roman games.

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