Biography of O. Henry

O. Henry was an American writer best known for writing short stories that involve ordinary characters who encounter surprise twist endings.

Born William Sidney Porter in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1862, the writer used several pen names until he settled on O. Henry in 1902, since the name seemed most popular with editors and readers. O. Henry's prolific output resulted in seventeen story collections, as well as dozens more uncollected stories, poems, and nonfiction works.

Since O. Henry's death in 1910, his stories have been adapted into films, several buildings bear his name, and both the Soviet Postal Service and the United States Postal Service released commemorative stamps to mark O. Henry's hundredth and hundred-and-fiftieth birthdays, respectively. The annual O. Henry Award is given to exceptional English-language stories printed in American and Canadian magazines.


Study Guides on Works by O. Henry

Written in 1904, "The Cop and the Anthem" is a short story by O. Henry, an American author who wrote under this famous pen name; born William Sydney Porter, his stories became known for the surprise twist at the end, and for being set in New York...

O. Henry's 1907 short story "The Last Leaf" is about a young artist named Johnsy who falls victim to a pneumonia epidemic that hits New York City. As Johnsy counts the ivy leaves falling off the vine outside her window, she superstitiously...

Like most stories (and film adaptations) from prolific short-story writer O. Henry, The Ransom of Red Chief is more like a modern Aesop Fable than a short story. It has ony a couple of themes but they are oft-repeated; the published in 1910, it is...

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...