O. Henry was one of best known American short story writers of all times. His more than 250 stories are famous for their suprise "twist" endings-something that the reader doesn´t expect up until the very end. His life was interesting and full of unexpected "twists". In fact, if he hadn´t ended up in jail, his career as a writer may never have begun.
O. Henry was only a pen name. He was actually William Sydney Porter in real life. As a sickly North Carolina boy, Will Porter moved West to live a life of leisure on a Texas ranch. After becoming a bank teller, he was jailed for stealing money from the bank. He later fled to Honduras in Central America. In nine years he earned a lot of money and fame as a writer but died in 1910 in a New York hospital with only 23 cents in his pocket. Will was a child of American Civil War. After mother´s dead he was sent to live with his aunt and he becoming a devilish naughty little boy. As a student, Will was frighteningly intelligent. He was able to calculate math sums with his right hand while drawing wiht his left hand at the same time. Later he began working as a pharmacist.
He was very ill, so he leave the stresses of city life and go live and work on a Texas sheep ranch. Texas in 1880 was a land full of rascals, outlaws, and questionable ladies all of which captured Will´s fertile imagination. This explains why many of O. Henry´s stories are actually Westerns, generously decorated with the colour of Texas slang and folklore. At the age of 21 he decided to move to the Texas town Austin. Years later, as a famous writer, O. Henry never wrote about or even discussed what happened to him during his years in Austin. He lived there twelve years. Porter was forced to take a job as a bank teller in times when Texas banks were not very carefully controlled. So when bank examiners found a large sum of money to be missing where Porter worked, he was accused of having stolen it righly or wrongly, we may never know. Though he was luckily pardoned by the courts he decided to head south of the U.S. border to Honduras. There he did little more than drink, living off of money stolen by trian robber friends he made there.
When he returned to Austin some time later, he was immediately arrested once again for the same reasons as before, but this time Porter ended up in prison. He was sent to prison in Columbus, Ohio. He refused to accept responsibility for the crimes he hed been charged for, claiming innocence till the end of his life. For this reason, Porter became very bitter and tried to ease his frustration by working nights at the prison pharmacy. After midnight, he wrote. He wrote letters to his daughter or short stories, some of whis were inspirated by conversations he had had wiht his fellow prisoners in the jail. During three years in prison, William Sydney Porter gradualy became a new person O. Henry. He adopted his pen name because he was afraid to use his real name. O. Henry once said: "Writing stories is... my way of getting money to pay room rent, to buy food and clothes and Pilsner." However, his ironic sence of humor stayed with him to the end, his last words being, "Turn up the lights. I don´t want to go home in the dark."
It was only on his gravestone that "Will Porter" appeared again for a final farewell to his admiring world.
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The Amazing Life of O. Henry
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