“O. Henry” is the pseudonymof the author William Sidney Porter. Porter was born in Greensboro, NC in 1862. www.greensboro-nc.gov/departments/Library/ohenry/
Porter grew up in Greensboro, NC, looked after by his grandmother and aunt. He later moved to Houston, Texas, where he worked as a banker. He was jailed in 1898 for embezzlement (stealing money from a company). While in prison, he wrote and sold short stories to make money to support his daughter, Margaret. Calling himself “O. Henry,” Porter became a successful author, but died in 1910 of an illness caused by alcoholism. He was only 47 years old.
O. Henry’s stories are famous for: • Plot “twists” • Most of O. Henry’s stories have surprise, or “twist” endings. • These surprise endings are caused by irony in the story: one character often doesn’t know something that the other does know. • Detailed descriptions & imagery • O. Henry’s stories usually have very clear and detailed descriptions of characters and settings. • Ordinary people as characters • The characters in these stories often have common jobs (policemen, waitresses, etc) and face common problems (poverty, crime, etc).
O. Henry monuments in Greensboro North Elm Street, downtown Greensboro Photos: http://www.downtowngreensboro.org/citylight/go/public-art-o-henry http://www.greensboro-nc.gov/departments/Library/ohenry/
“The Gift of the Magi” “The magi … were wise men--wonderfully wise men--who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones … ” But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. from the story by O. Henry
MAIN CHARACTERS: Della (Mrs. James Dillingham Young) Jim (Mr. James Dillingham Young) SETTING: New York City, Christmas Eve (the story was published in 1906)
THEMES: Wealth & Poverty Generosity Love