O. Henry Additional Biography

Biography

O. Henry was born William Sydney Porter on September 11, 1862, in Greensboro, North Carolina. Though his father, Algernon Porter, was a...

(The entire section is 571 words.)

Biography

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Although O. Henry was primarily a showman and a journalist who wrote stories to make a living rather than to create art, no study of the short story would be complete without some consideration of his brilliant ability to create an irresistible storytelling persona; to fulfill the human need for unity, order, and poetic justice; and to leave his readers—whether laughing or crying—always satisfied.

Biography

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Receiving little formal education, O. Henry, pseudonym of William Sydney Porter, found themes and plots for his short stories in his early jobs as pharmacist, ranch hand, draftsman, and bank teller. After being arrested for embezzlement in 1894, he fled to Honduras, where much of the material for Cabbages and Kings was acquired. He returned to Texas in 1897 to be with his dying wife and was convicted and sent to prison one year later. During his imprisonment he began to achieve national prominence for his stories and subsequently continued his writing career in New York. He signed contracts with the Sunday World and Munsey’s for weekly stories drawn from his own experiences in the city. In 1907, he married his childhood sweetheart; three years later he died, finally succumbing to alcohol-induced cirrhosis of the liver and diabetes.

Biography

(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Although O. Henry was born in a small town, he was to feel most comfortable personally and professionally in New York City, observing and chronicling the little lives of little people. He was a private and gentle man in his life and in his writing, and he harbored a humiliating secret. Although his work cannot be called “autobiographical” without a considerable amount of qualification, his writing certainly was based on his own experiences and observations. His production coincides with the four main stages of his life: childhood in North Carolina; youth in Texas; adulthood in New Orleans, Honduras, and the federal penitentiary in Columbus, Ohio; and maturity in New York City.

Christened William Sidney Porter (he changed the spelling of his middle name to “Sydney” in 1898), O. Henry had a peaceful childhood in North Carolina. The early death of his mother at the age of thirty from tuberculosis meant that O. Henry’s nurture and tutelage after the age of three were provided by his paternal aunt Evelina. Long walks with friends and much reading offset boredom as he clerked in his uncle’s drugstore, and his becoming licensed as a practicing pharmacist would serve him well later. He was scarcely twenty when a Greensboro physician and his wife, concerned about Porter’s delicate health, brought him south with them to the Rio Grande. For nearly two years on a sheep ranch in La Salle County in southwest Texas, Porter learned to rope and ride, went on weekly mail runs, played the guitar, sketched, and read almost everything in the ranch library. His discomfort with the raw frontier, with its frequent shootings and lootings, prompted his...

(The entire section is 675 words.)

Biography

(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

William Sydney Porter, known by his pen name O. Henry, grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina, where his father was a physician. His schooling was meager, and at the age of fifteen he was given a job in a store kept by his uncle, a pharmacist. In 1882, threatened by pulmonary weakness, he went to stay on a large ranch in La Salle County, Texas. Two years later, he moved to Austin and found employment as a bookkeeper. For four years, he worked as a draftsman in the Land Office there. He was clandestinely married in 1887 to Athol Estes, a seventeen-year-old young woman whom he had met while both were members of a Presbyterian church choir. Early in 1891, he became a teller in the First National Bank of Austin. At the end of 1894, after acquiring the proprietorship of a humorous weekly paper, Brann’s Iconoclast (later renamed The Rolling Stone), he resigned his position to try his hand at cartooning, writing, and editing. He had previously contributed literary sketches to the Detroit Free Press and other newspapers. In the spring of the next year, after the failure of his publishing venture, he went to Houston and became a columnist for the Houston Daily Post. His collected “Postscripts” show the wit and agility of mind he later displayed in his short stories. His wife was diagnosed with tuberculosis, and she at first remained in Austin but later joined him.{$S[A]Porter, William Sydney;Henry, O.}{$S[A]O. Henry;Henry, O.}

In 1896, Porter was indicted for having misappropriated funds totaling $1,153.68 while an employee of the First National Bank of Austin. He started to return to Austin to stand trial, but on the way reversed his direction and on reaching New Orleans took ship for Honduras. Upon his arrival there, he fell in with Al Jennings, an outlaw trainrobber. For the greater part of a year, Porter and the two Jennings brothers made common cause as fugitives, traveling all the way around the South...

(The entire section is 798 words.)

Biography

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

William Sidney Porter, best known by his pen name O. Henry, was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1862, the second son of Dr. Algernon Sidney Porter and Mary Jane Porter. When his mother died of pneumonia three years after his birth, he and his father and brother moved into the home of his grandmother and his aunt Lina, who took over his education and started him in his interest in literature.

In his late teens, O. Henry began working in his uncle’s drugstore as an assistant pharmacist, obtaining his pharmacy license in 1881. However, when he developed a cough that made him fear his mother’s fate, he moved to southwest Texas as the houseguest of family friends, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Hall. At age twenty-two, he...

(The entire section is 639 words.)

Biography

O. Henry was born as William Sidney (changed to Sydney in 1898) Porter on September 11, 1862, in Greensboro, North Carolina. After his mother...

(The entire section is 549 words.)