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About this collection

O. Henry, whose real name was William Sydney Porter, was an American author of short stories. His works are remembered for their wit and wordplay, and often feature surprise endings, as seen in his Christmas story, "The Gift of the Magi."

O. Henry was born in North Carolina in 1862. He moved to Texas in 1882 and to Austin in 1884. He was employed in a variety of jobs throughout his life: pharmacist, draftsman, bank teller, and journalist. He wrote stories in his spare time and sent submissions to newspapers and magazines. From 1887 to 1891 he worked as a draftsman in the Texas General Land Office, drawing maps. He later worked as a teller at the First National Bank in Austin, where some discrepancies in bookkeeping led to him being accused of embezzling funds. After a move to Houston in 1895, he was convicted of embezzlement and sent to prison. He served his sentence from 1898 to 1901, but continued writing and sending stories to publishers. He first adopted his O. Henry pseudonym with the publication of "Whistling Dick's Christmas Stocking" in December 1899. After his release from prison until his death in 1910, O. Henry lived in New York City. He wrote nearly 400 short stories in this period, including more than a year's worth of weekly stories for the New York World Sunday Magazine.

The O. Henry collection includes the handwritten, 47-page manuscript for a short story, "The Venturers," in addition to several smaller manuscripts and drawings. Some of these were written for his daughter, Margaret. Also present are two photostats of map decorations from O. Henry's time at the General Land Office. The collection also contains both outgoing and incoming letters. Correspondents include his wives (Athol Estes Porter and Sara Coleman Porter), members of the Roach family (Athol's parents), Robert Underwood Johnson, and others.

This collection was digitized as part of Project REVEAL (Read and View English & American Literature).

 

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