Thursday, July 24, 2008

Today in History: O. Henry leaves prison, launches literary career

Here's an interesting historical footnote for the literary minded among you; today's the anniversary of the release from prison of one of Texas' great short story writers:
July 24 - O. Henry is released from prison on this day in 1901. William Sydney Porter, otherwise known as O. Henry, is released from prison ... after serving three years ... for embezzlement from a bank in Austin, Texas.

To escape imprisonment, Porter had fled the authorities and hidden in Honduras, but returned when his wife, still in the U.S., was diagnosed with a terminal illness. He went to jail and began writing stories to support his young daughter while he was in prison.

After his release, Porter moved to New York and worked for New York World, writing one short story a week from 1903 to 1906. In 1904, his first story collection, Cabbages and Kings, was published. His second, The Four Million (1906), contained one of his most beloved stories, The Gift of the Magi, about a poor couple who each sacrifice their most valuable possession to buy a gift for the other.

Additional collections appeared in 1906 and 1907, and two collections a year were published in 1908 until his death in 1910. He specialized in stories about everyday people, often ending with an unexpected twist. Despite the enormous popularity of the nearly 300 stories he published, he led a difficult life, struggling with financial problems and alcoholism until his death in 1910.
Via Focus News Agency.


Anonymous said...

P.S. Ruckman, Jr. said...

Great post. I don't feel so all alone anymore!

I don't know if any more dead people will be pardoned. But it seems to me O. Henry should make that short list.

Anonymous said...

To pardon someone you should have a clear understanding of the crime and an iota of compassion. Our current leadership lacks both.