Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ was first published in 1880 and established a new literary genre, the Biblical novel, as a sub-genre of historical fiction. The essence of the genre is a story set in Biblical times with Biblical characters in greater or lesser roles. The novel was wildly successful, surpassing Uncle Tom’s Cabin as the best-selling American novel until 1936 when Gone With the Wind became number one. In 1912 alone, a million copies were printed and sold for thirty nine cents apiece. Wallace’s work changed the attitude of the clergy toward popular fiction, who encouraged their congregants to read the novel. The Pope blessed it.