A Retrieved Reformation

A Retrieved Reformation Study Guide

First published in the April 1903 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine, O. Henry's “A Retrieved Reformation” is about a notorious safecracker named Jimmy Valentine who gives up his life of crime after he falls in love with a banker's daughter.

O. Henry based the story's protagonist on real-life safecracker Jimmy Connors, whom the author had heard about while serving a sentence for embezzlement in the Ohio Federal Penitentiary.

The story of Jimmy Valentine's redemption captured the public imagination when it was first published and remained popular for decades after O. Henry's death. Between 1909 and 1942, the story was adapted into a successful stage play, two silent movies, a film drama, a film comedy, a popular song sung by Bing Crosby, and a radio series.