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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Rest (01/17/13)

TITLE: Master of Irony
By darlene thompson


William Sidney Porter was born in Greensboro, North Carolina on June 5, 1862. His mother died when he was three. He was raised by his father and his aunt. Porter attended private school and this was his only formal education. He worked in his uncle's drug store and became a registered pharmacist. His time in Greensboro was spent drawing sketches and cartoons of the local people.

Because Porter was a restless person, his small town of Greensboro became boring. He moved to Texas for a more exciting life. In Austin, he worked as a bank teller. Later, Porter fell in love. He and his wife had one daughter. As his life improved, a problem of embezzlement occurred at his bank. Porter was charged. Rather than face a trial, he fled to Honduras. Later, he discovered his wife had become ill and returned to Texas. His wife died and he stood trial. He was convicted of embezzlement and sentence to the Ohio Penitentiary.

While in prison, Porter began to write. He developed many stories and sold them. Upon his release, he moved to New York and changed his name to O. Henry. There are many stories as to how he arrived at his name. One story that is told is that he called his cat O. Henry. No one but O. Henry really knew the answer.

As he continued to be published, O. Henry soon became the most widely read author in the United States. His writings were filled with unusual plots and irony twisted into the rest of his stories. Between 1904-1905, he produced a story a week for the Sunday World.

While in New York, he and his childhood friend, Sara Lindsey Coleman of Weaverville, North Carolina began corresponding. Their rekindled friendship led to marriage on November 27, 1907.

In 1910, O. Henry's health began to fail. His wife brought him to Weaverville to recuperate. However, O. Henry didn't find the location favorable for writing. He missed the hustle and bustle of New York that inspired him. He moved his office to downtown Asheville to be near the city's life but found it too quiet and lacking lots of people. While in Asheville, he penned the poignant short story called, "The Last Leaf." This was probably his best Asheville work.

O. Henry died June 6, 1910, in New York at the age of 48 from cirrhosis of the liver, complication of diabetes and an enlarged heart. He was buried in Riverside Cemetery in Asheville. It is reported that O. Henry's followers often visit his grave and leave $1.87 on his tombstone as a gentle reminder of the real reason for the season in his beloved Christmas story, "Gift of the Magi."

The man who placed the wreath on O. Henry's grave at the time of his death said, "Do you remember how he began 'Compliments of the Season'?" The newspaperman shook his head. And then the man quoted the first sentence of that memorable tale. "There are no more Christmas stories to tell."

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Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 01/26/13
This is an interesting essay. You give a lot of facts in this short piece. I'm not super familiar with his works, but you did intrigue me with your facts.
Mildred Sheldon01/26/13
Thank you for a lovely factual rendition of O Henry. I thoroughly enjoyed this. Thank you for sharing.
C D Swanson 01/26/13
Oh this is such a lovely and touching tribute to this peaceful and talented man.

I was interested from beginning to the very end. Lots of effort into the research and the story itself was worth sharing.

Thank you.

God bless~