O.Henry is one of the bestknown short-story writers of our
century. His real name was William Sidney Porter. He was
born in East Carolina, an eastern State of the U.S.A. He tried
several professions before taking up journalism.
He used the pen-name of O.Henry - from the name of the captain
of the prison guard, Orrin Henry.
When he was released from prison, he went to New York.
The city with its four million inhabitants suggested so many
olots to him that sometimes he wrote as many as seven stories
.a month."Cabbages and Kings", the first of his volumes of short
stories, appeared in 1904.
He was the author of about three hundred short stories. The
best of these were published in the books: "Cabbages and
Kings" (1904), "The Four Million" (1906), "Heart of the West"
(1907), "The Trimmed Lamp" (1907), The Voice of the City"
(1903)/The Gentle Grafter" (1908), "Roads of Destiny" (1909),
."Options" (1909), "Strictly Business" (1910), Whirligigs"
(1910). Some collections of his short.-stories .were issued
O.Henry's death; "Sixes and Sevens" (1911),
"Rolling Stones" (1913), "Walls and Strays” (1917).
The works of O.Henry reflect a specific period in American
literature - the turn of the century. O.Henry occupies an
intermediate position between the critical tendency in
literature and that of the "genteel tradition" in the neoromantic trend. His credo, was: art should be true,
democratic, it should address contemporary life and should
embrace all aspects of life.
G.Henry was an cuisianuino riunricrist.'Hc vvcrKecl cut ano
enriched all the various types of the short story: the anecdote,
the monologue, the dialogue, the grotesque, satirican and
paradoxical; the adventure story, the psychological stony, the
oarody; poems in prose, tales and sketches.
O.Henry could work out a plot that would keep the reader in
suspense up to the surprising turn at the end. He was a born
reporter of great talent; his-quickeye-and mind took in
colour", humorous situations, little specific signs that might
reveal a whole character. The conversation is slangy,- witty,
humorous, sometimes exaggerated but often unexpectedly
exact and precise. The backgrounds of all these elements are
varied, the details impressive, the style "snappy". All this
O.Henry bent to one purpose: to give the reader a shock of
surprise at the end. O".Henry planned every detail of his
stories with a sureness that seldom failed, and he always
gave much thought to his titles.
His narration is invariably ironic or playful. He uses metaphors
often but only for the purpose of disconcerting or amazing the
reader with the unexpectedness of the comparison, and make
a surprise of a literary nature.