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Indiana Authors and Their Books

Updated on November 6, 2016

Indiana--Home of Authors

Literature Thrives in Indiana

Indiana has a long and proud literary tradition including many authors in a variety of genres. Among my favorites are:

  • Charles Major (1856-1913)
  • James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916)
  • Lew Wallace (1827-1905) and
  • Gene Stratton-Porter (1868-1924.)

Some of the biographical and bibliographical information in this lens came from Indiana Authors and Their Books, a project of Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.

The image of the state flag of Indiana is from Classroom Clipart

A Favorite by Gene Stratton-Porter

A Girl Of The Limberlost
A Girl Of The Limberlost

Elnora is a lonely girl whose sunny disposition and love of nature help her through many hardships.


Gene Stratton-Porter

Writer and Naturalist

Gene Stratton-Porter was born in northern Indiana and loved the flora and fauna of the Limberlost Swamp near her home. She photographed and documented the wildlife of the forests and swamp. The characters in some of her novels, like her, are lovers and protectors of the trees, butterflies, and birds of the Limberlost. Freckles and A Girl of the Limberlost are some of the best examples of her nature-inspired writing.

As a child I visited the Limberlost State Historic Site near Geneva, Indiana, with my family. Many of us enjoyed Porter's novels. She blended non-silly romance with challenges faced by real people in her time period. The books are just as readable today as when they were written.

Lew Wallace, Author of Ben Hur

Gen. Lew Wallace Photo by Matthew Brady
Gen. Lew Wallace Photo by Matthew Brady

General Lew Wallace

A Man of Many Talents

A writer, a soldier, a lawyer and a politician: General Lewis Wallace was a fine example of a Renaissance Man. He was appointed as territorial governor of the New Mexico Territory during the time of "Billy the Kid." Gen. Wallace also served as the minister to Turkey. He fought in the Mexican War and the Civil War (Union side.)

Although Wallace had little formal education, his father had a large library which the young Wallace put to good use. His best known novel is Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ, probably well known to most because of the excellent movie version starring Charlton Heston.

James Whitcomb Riley - Beloved Poet

Riley is the official Hoosier Poet. His most famous poems include Little Orphant Annie and The Raggedy Man. Many of his poems used the local dialect of central Indiana at that time. Riley spent his childhood in Greenfield, Indiana and his later years in Indianapolis.

I have a special affinity for Riley's work for three reasons:

  1. I remember my oldest relatives still speaking the dialect Riley used in his poetry.
  2. Members of my family have been cared for at Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis.
  3. My second grade teacher did an amazing rendition of Little Orphant Annie.

The Bears of Blue River
The Bears of Blue River

This was read aloud in class by one of my elementary school teachers. It was agony to get only one chapter per day!


Charles Major

Shelbyville's Pride

Novelist Charles Major was born in Indianapolis, but moved with his family to Shelbyville, Indiana when he was thirteen. The hospital in Shelbyville bears his name. He was a lawyer and even served in the Indiana legislature.

Eventually his literary success led him to make his living primarily through writing. He was greatly interested in history, so his writing reflects that interest in both world and local history. The Bears of Blue River was set in rural central Indiana, based on familiar places and experiences.

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