In the 3rd century BC, Ban Gu's ancestors gained prominence on the northwestern frontier as herders of several thousand cattle, oxen, and horses, which they traded in a formidable business and encouraged other families to move to the frontier.
Ban Gu was born into a scholarly family, and his father, Ban Biao, was a prominent historian. He took over from his father responsibility for writing a history of the former Han Dynasty, a book known in modern times as the ''Book of Han''. However, his work was interrupted by political problems, as his association with the family of led to his imprisonment and death . A few volumes of his book in 13–20th and 26th , however, was completed by his younger sister, Ban Zhao, and became a model for many other works about later dynasties.
The modern historian Hsu Mei-ling states that Ban Gu's written work in set the trend for the establishment of geographical sections of history texts, and most likely sparked the trend of the gazeteer in ancient China.
He also wrote in the main poetic genre of the Han era, a kind of poetry interspersed with prose called ''''. Some are anthologized by Xiao Tong in his ''Selections of Refined Literature'' in the 6th century.
* Ban Biao
** Ban Gu
** Ban Chao
** Ban Zhao