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An introduction to the life of o henry one of the best short story authors

41 Stories

One of the best things about being in a good book club and there are many is that you end up reading books that you may otherwise, never have picked up. We read, several years ago, 41 Stories by O. I am a bit ashamed to admit that I do not recall ever reading any of his works. Perhaps he came up in High School English, but considering how much I enjoyed this book, I think I would have remembered.

Henry was a pseudonym. I did not know this. His real name was William Sydney Porter and he had a most unconventional and, unfortunately, short, life died at age 47. He did not go to college, but it is said that he read voraciously as a child. His life, including the wide variety of jobs he held, reads like a novel. He was a pharmacist or pharmacist assistant, depending on your sourcea sheep rancher, a book-keeper, a draftsman, a columnist, a reporter and cartoonist for a newspaper, and finally a bank teller.

As such, he was indicted or not, again, depending on the source for the alleged embezzlement of bank funds it seems more likely that it was mismanagement of funds rather than embezzlement. He was to stand trial, but he fled to New Orleans and then Honduras. Meanwhile he married a woman in spite of her condition, having tuberculosis.

They eloped in July 1887 and she died of TB in July 1897, which brought him out of hiding. In the ten years they were married, they had a son in 1888, who died hours after birth, and then a daughter in September 1889.

  1. His first creative expressions came while working in the pharmacy where he would sketch the townspeople that frequented the store. He also spent time reading classic literature.
  2. His father-in-law again posted his bail so he could remain with his wife until her death in 1897.
  3. When William was three, his mother died after birthing her third child, and he and his father moved into the home of his paternal grandmother.
  4. Henry's prolific writing period began in 1902 in New York City, where he wrote 381 short stories. Henry" or "Olivier Henry" in the early part of his writing career; other names included S.

After his wife's death in July, 1897, he was sentenced to five years in jail, It was during his time in prison that he began to write his short stories and had many stories published under pseudonyms to keep the fact of his imprisonment from publishers and readers. The pseudonym that stuck was "O. On July 24, 1901, O. Henry was released from jail after only three years, for good behavior.

In 1902 he moved to New York City and proceeded to write 381 short stories in the following 8 years. He remarried in 1907.

By 1908 his health was deteriorating as he had begun to drink heavily. His 2nd wife left him in 1909 and he died broke on June 5 1910 of cirrhosis of the liver, as well as other ailments. Henry's life story reads like the lyrics of an an old time country music song. What stands out for me is O. Henry's use of language, his turns of phrase and his vocabulary I found myself looking up many words, Kindle making it so easy, only to find that some of them appeared to be made up; I am still not sure about "propenquitious"!

Not only is his overall vocabulary noteworthy but so are the names he gives his characters. I have to wonder where or how he came up with them. Perhaps they were common in his day, the late 1800's and early 1900's, or maybe he just made them up. Who could not love this name? I looked it up online and the Urban Dictionary defined it this way: I think it quite possible that O.

Short Stories

Henry knew what he was doing giving his characters these quaint, whimsical, and yes, naughty names. Henry is well known for his famous "twist" endings.

The Best Short Stories of O. Henry

It seemed to me that he played out his stories within his own mind, in much the same way as he played with language itself. Consequently, the endings of many of his stories are not at all what you would expect and often are, in a manner of speaking, "twisted".

Henry's use of language, writing style and the ways that he tells tales are completely individualistic, uniquely his own. I was able to "hear" the voices of his characters with their Irish, German or Italian accents. Here are some examples of delicious language that only O. I think the caterpillar-holes have made your dress open a little in the back" Schools and Schools "She thrusts hurriedly into your hand an extremely hot buttered roll, flashes out a tiny pair of scissors, snips off the second button of your overcoat, meaningly ejaculated the one word, "parrallelogram!

In our idle hours we always improved our higher selves by ratiocination and mental thought". Shearing the Wolf "You have a kind nucleus at the interior of your exterior after all" Shearing the Wolf "Quite unseldom I have seen fit to impugn your molars when you have been chewing the rag with me about your conscientious way of doing business" Shearing the Wolf "He was waked up in a yellow pine hotel by the noise of flowers and the smell of birds" Hostages to Momus "Caligula sat on the back of his neck on the porch and studied a newspaper, which was unusual to a man who despised print.

I always was an admirer of viands in their most palliative and revised stages. Hog and hominy are not only inartistic to my stomach, but they give indigestion to my moral sentiments.

The majority of the writers mentioned were unknown to me. Here's the list of those I recognized: