O. Henry

O. Henry

O. Henry, pseud. of William Sydney Porter, 1862–1910, American short-story writer, b. Greensboro, N.C. He went to Texas in 1882 and worked at various jobs—as teller in an Austin bank (1891–94) and as a newspaperman for the Houston Post. In 1898 an unexplained shortage in the Austin bank was charged to him. Although many people believed him innocent, he fled to the Honduras but returned to be with his wife, who was fatally ill. He eventually served three years in prison, where he first started writing short stories. Upon his release he settled in New York City and became a highly successful and prolific contributor to various magazines. His short, simple stories are noted for their careful plotting, ironic coincidences, and surprise endings. Although his stories have been criticized as shallow and contrived, O. Henry did catch the color and movement of the city and evidenced a genuine sympathy for ordinary people. His approximately 300 stories are collected in Cabbages and Kings (1904), The Four Million (1906), The Voice of the City (1908), Options (1909), and others.

See biographies by G. Langford (1957) and R. O'Connor (1970); study by J. Gallegly (1970); bibliography by P. S. Clarkson (1938).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Caliph of Bagdad: Being Arabian Nights Flashes of the Life, Letters, and Work of O. Henry
William Sydney Porter; Robert H. Davis; Arthur B. Maurice.
D. Appleton, 1931
FREE! Options
O. Henry.
Doubleday, Page, 1917
FREE! Heart of the West
O. Henry.
Doubleday, Page, 1917
Random Studies in the Romantic Chaos
F. A. Waterhouse.
Robert M. McBride & Company, 1923
Librarian’s tip: Chap. VII "O. Henry- Jongleur"
The Development of the American Short Story: An Historical Survey
Fred Lewis Pattee.
Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1923
Librarian’s tip: Chap. XVI "O. Henry and the Handbooks"
FREE! Sixes and Sevens
O. Henry.
Doubleday, Page & Company, 1915
FREE! Whirligigs
O. Henry.
Doubleday, Page, 1917
FREE! Strictly Business: New York Stories
O. Henry.
Doubleday, Page & Company, 1917
58 Short Stories: Comprising Heart of the West, The Voice of the City, The Gentle Grafter
O. Henry.
Collins, 1956
Waifs and Strays: Twelve Stories
O. Henry.
Hodder & Stoughton, 1917
FREE! Roads of Destiny
O. Henry.
Doubleday, Page & Company, 1917
Authors Today and Yesterday: A Companion Volume to Living Authors
Stanley J. Kunitz; Howard Haycraft; Wilbur C. Hadden.
H.W. Wilson, 1933
Librarian’s tip: "'O. Henry' 1862-1910" begins on p. 304
FREE! Modern Essays
Christopher Morley.
Harcourt Brace and Company, 1921
Librarian’s tip: "O. Henry" begins on p. 100
Fifty Southern Writers after 1900: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook
Joseph M. Flora; Robert Bain.
Greenwood Press, 1987
Librarian’s tip: "William Sydney Porter [O. Henry] (1862-1910)" begins on p. 368
I Hear America ...: Literature in the United States since 1900
Vernon Loggins.
Biblo and Tannen, 1967
Librarian’s tip: Chap. XIII "Mindful of the Millions"
The New American Literature, 1890-1930
Fred Lewis Pattee.
Century, 1930
Librarian’s tip: Chap. XI "O. Henry"
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