Follow by Email

O. Henry

Writing Is My Business: The Story of O. Henry William Sydney Porter was one of the most popular storytellers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, yet most knew him simply as O. Henry. Born in North Carolina in the midst of the post Civil War Reconstruction, Will was brought up by his aunt and grandmother. At the age of twenty, he left North Carolina for Texas, where he met his first wife and eked out a living as a ranch hand, draftsman, journalist, and bank clerk. In 1897, Porter's beloved wife Athol died of tuberculosis. The same year, he was sentenced to five years in prison for embezzling funds from an Austin bank. Porter's guilt or innocence remains a mystery, but he spent the rest of his life trying to conceal his past as a convicted criminal. He created for himself a prolific and profitable career writing short stories for newspapers and literary magazines. His trademark "twist endings" made him one of the most sought after writers of his day. But success and fame did not bring O. Henry happiness. He wrote for hire and always felt that he had never lived up to his true literary potential.

"Opening with 'William Porter began to use the pen name O. Henry while he was in prison in the Ohio State Penitentiary,' this title grabs readers' attention and never lets go. O. Henry certainly makes a compelling subject. His  many hardships, including the death of loved ones, legal woes, single-parent  responsibilities, periodic dire financial straits, and alcoholism are all explained. Captioned period photographs, magazine covers, and other illustrations add to the lively text. This is a compelling biography of the  American writer who was considered the "Yankee Maupassant."
                                            ---School Library Journal, November 2006