Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Happy birthday, O Henry.

Master of the twist ending William Sydney Porter, aka O Henry, was born today in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1862.

He began his writing life as a journalist for the Detroit Free Press and the Houston Daily Post (he lived in Austin for a time). Porter served time for alleged embezzlement of funds from a poorly managed bank where he had worked (the charge was dubious, and he compounded it by fleeing the jurisdiction). While in prison, he began to publish stories under the pseudonym O Henry. After his release, he went to New York in 1902, writing 65 stories in 1904 and 50 in 1905. His best-known tales are probably "The Gift of the Magi" and "The Ransom of Red Chief." He died in 1910.

There is a hotel named in his honor in Greensboro, the O Henry Museum in Austin, and the O Henry Memorial Prize for short story writing.

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