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The Gift of the Magi

by O. Henry

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Last Updated on May 11, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 261

Current-Garcia, Eugene. O. Henry (William Sydney Porter). New York: Twayne, 1965. Includes a biography of O. Henry and a critical analysis of his work’s structure and its technical characteristics. Analyzes his popularity and the subsequent decline of his reputation. Discusses his influence on the development of the American short story.

Langford, Gerald. Alias O. Henry: A Biography of William Sydney Porter. New York: Macmillan, 1957. Analyzes the work as well as the life of the writer. Asserts that O. Henry’s rightful place in American literature is that of a minor but classic writer.

Long, E. Hudson. O. Henry: The Man and His Work. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1949. This biography makes a case for O. Henry as a “humorist, craftsman, and social historian.” Long claims that O. Henry is properly understood and appreciated in the context of the times in which he lived and the audience for which he wrote.

O’Connor Richard. O. Henry: The Legendary Life of William Porter. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1970. Traces the life of O. Henry from his boyhood in North Carolina through his Texas and Ohio prison years, and, finally, to New York. Vividly portrays the early twentieth century New York City evoked in his work.

Smith, C. Alphonso. O. Henry. Edgemont, Pa.: Chelsea House, 1980. Reprint. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday Page, 1916. A biography and analysis of O. Henry’s work written by a professor who knew O. Henry. Most interesting because, having been written in 1916, during the height of his popularity, it reveals a great deal about late Victorian culture and literary tastes.

Media Adaptations

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 113

''The Gift of the Magi'' was adapted for film as a 21-minute segment of O. Henry's Full House, produced by Andre Hakim, starring Jeanne Crain and Farley Granger, narrated by John Steinbeck, and with music, by Alfred Newman, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1952.

It also appeared in a 15-minute segment of the four-part Short Story Classics Series, produced in 1980 and distributed by Britannica Films.

It was also one of several O. Henry stories adapted for the musical Gifts of the Magi, produced in New York City at the Lamb's Theater, 1985.

This famous story has also been recorded on audio-cassette by Miller-Brody Productions.

"The Gift of the Magi'' was adapted as a stageplay by Anne Coulter Martens.

Bibliography and Further Reading

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Last Updated on August 13, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 182

Further Reading

Bates, H. E., The Modem Short Story, Writer, Inc., 1941, p. 231.

Bates surveys the development of short stories in America, France, Russia, and Great Britain from the writers of Edgar Allan Poe's day through the 1940s and explains why O. Henry's short stories are so successful.

Current-Garcia, Eugene. O Henry (William Sydney Porter), Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1965.

This thorough biographical and critical study includes an examination of how O. Henry's regional background influenced his work.

Current-Garcia, Eugene, editor, O. Henry: A Study of the Short Fiction, Twayne, 1993,p 256.

This volume presents Current-Garcia's analyses of the stories of O. Henry and collects articles by various other critics.

Eckley, Wilton "The Gift of the Magi," in Reference Guide to Short Fiction, St. James Press, 1994, pp. 716-17.

After a very short introduction about the writer, Eckley provides a brief general overview of plot and technique in "The Gift of the Magi."

''William Sydney Porter," in Discovering Authors Modules (CD-ROM publication), Gale Research, 1996.

A detailed overview of the author's life, career, and writings, with a number of excerpts from criticism of his works dating from 1917 through 1996.

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Historical and Social Context