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Henry, O.

(US, 1862–1910)

‘O. Henry’ was the pseudonym of William Sidney Porter, a former bank clerk and journalist who began writing stories while serving a prison sentence for embezzlement. On his release in 1901 he wrote at least a story a week for the World newspaper in New York, often drawing upon his colourful early life in the West, Texas, and New York. He produced a number of very popular collections, such as The Heart of the West (1907) and The Gentle Grafter (1908), and was known for the inventively plotted yarn, often humorous or sentimental, with trademark surprise endings. Covering some of the territory of Mark Twain, his stories feature lucky and luckless lovers, cowboys, shopgirls, confidence tricksters, and tramps. His best stories still make satisfying reading. A convenient modern edition is The Collected Stories of O. Henry (1979).

Mark Twain, Damon Runyon  JS

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionBooks & Authors: Award-Winning Fiction (Ha-Ke)