Susan Wallace

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Susan Wallace
c. 1860
Born Susan Arnold Elston
December 25, 1830 (1830-12-25)
Crawfordsville, Indiana
Died October 1, 1907 (1907-11) (aged 76)
Crawfordsville, Indiana
Occupation Writer, editor
Nationality American
Period 1858–1906
Notable works "The Patter of Little Feet"
Spouse Lew Wallace
Children Henry Lane Wallace

Susan Arnold Elston Wallace (December 25, 1830 – October 1, 1907) was an American author and poet.


Susan Wallace was born in Crawfordsville, Indiana, to wealthy and influential parents, Isaac Compton and Maria Eveline (Akin) Elston on December 25, 1830. She was educated in Crawfordsville and Poughkeepsie, New York.[1] Susan was the fourth child of Isaac and Maria; she had eight siblings, three brothers and five sisters.

She married Lew Wallace on May 6, 1852. They had one son, Henry Lane Wallace,[2] born February 17, 1853. At the time of their engagement, Wallace was a struggling attorney, and Susan's father was not particularly certain that he would ever be successful. Ironically, Wallace became one of the most celebrated American authors of the 19th century following the publication of Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ in 1880. Susan Wallace, however, was published long before her husband with her very popular poem "The Patter of Little Feet".[3] She was published in over thirty magazines, newspapers, journals, and books of poetry in her life.

Additionally, Susan was a talented writer and musician, although she preferred to remain largely in the shadows as her husband's companion. In truth, and Wallace frequently acknowledged this, Susan was his editor, reader, and critic. He attributed much of his success in writing to her criticism.

Wallace was writing his Autobiography when he died in 1905. Susan, with assistance from Mary Hannah Krout, completed the Autobiography in 1906. She wrote, "And here the Autobiography ends. What follows must be a plain record of facts without attempt at polish or effect."[4]


Largely forgotten by modern readers, Susan Wallace's works focused on home, friends, travel, and Christianity.[5] She was also very interested in women's roles, especially after traveling with her husband to Turkey and the Middle East.


  • The Storied Sea (Boston: James R. Osgood and Company), 1883.
  • Ginèvra; or, The Old Oak Chest, A Christmas Story (New York: Worthington Co.), 1887. [illustrated by Lew Wallace]
  • The Land of the Pueblos (New York: John B. Alden), 1888. [with illustrations by Lew Wallace]
  • The Repose in Egypt: A Medley (New York: John B. Alden), 1888.
  • Along the Bosphorus and Other Sketches (Chicago: Rand, McNally & Co.), 1898.
  • The City of the King: What the Child Jesus Saw and Heard (Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Co.), 1903.


  1. ^ Brief biography and bibliography by Roger C. Adams
  2. ^ Named for Henry Smith Lane, husband to her sister Joanna and one of Lew's closest friends.
  3. ^ Cincinnati Daily Gazette, April 17, 1858.
  4. ^ Lew Wallace, Autobiography, p. 796.
  5. ^ Russo & Sullivan, p. 419.


  • Russo, Dorothy Ritter & Thelma Lois Sullivan. Bibliographical Studies of Seven Authors of Crawfordsville, Indiana (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society), 1952.
  • Spragg, Joann. "Montgomery County Profiles: Susan Arnold Elston (1830–1907)", Montgomery County Historical Society [Newsletter], March 2008. See it here.
  • Wallace, Lew. An Autobiography (New York: Harper & Brothers), 1906.

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