Tuesday, Sept. 11 marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of American writer William Sydney Porter (1862-1910), best known by his pen name O. Henry. Porter is famous for witty short stories like “The Ransom of Red Chief” and “The Gift of the Magi,” which often feature surprise twists at the end.
Porter was a prolific author. He began his writing career in the mid-1890s, contributing stories to weekly newspapers and magazines. His first book-length collection, Cabbages and Kings, was written in Honduras while he was on the run from charges of embezzling money from a former employer, a Texas bank. He continued to write and publish stories while in prison. After his release, Porter moved to New York, where he continued to contribute stories to popular magazines and published collections of his stories, including Cabbages and Kings (1904) and The Four Million (1906). First editions of these and other O. Henry story collections are held in the Rare Book Collections and can be found by searching the library catalog for author “Henry, O.”