O Henry

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Henry, O


(pen name of William Sydney Porter). Born Sept. 11, 1862, in Greensboro, N.C.; died June 5, 1910, in New York. American author.

Leaving school, O. Henry went to work in a drugstore and obtained a certificate in pharmacy. In 1894 he edited and published a humorous weekly in which he printed his first literary attempts. He worked as a teller in a bank and was accused of embezzlement, but he avoided being brought to trial for six months by fleeing to Honduras. When he returned, he spent more than three years in prison, from 1898 to 1901. In prison he wrote several short stories, some of which were published in New York magazines.

O. Henry is the author of a number of short-story collections, including The Four Million (1906), The Trimmed Lamp (1907), and The Heart of the West (1907). He also wrote the novel Cabbages and Kings (1904), which is actually a cycle of novellas unified by a single theme. His works are noted for their ingenious plots, surprise endings, and mocking humor. They constitute a fairy-tale-like American adventure story, full of accurate descriptions of everyday life and apt social observations. The real hero of O. Henry’s stories is the ordinary American, with his right to happiness. Although O. Henry was far from being a writer of satirical exposés, he sometimes wrote with caustic sarcasm about the vices of capitalist America.


Works: Biographical Edition, vols. 1–18. New York, 1925.
In Russian translation:
Izbr. proizv., vols. 1–2. Moscow, 1959.


Levidova, I. O. Genri i ego novella. Moscow [1973].
Current-Garcia, E. O. Henry. New York, 1965.
O’Connor, R. O. Henry. Garden City, N.Y., 1970.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Henry, O

. his plots characterized by unexpected dénouements. [Am. Lit.: Benét, 457]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.