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O. Henry. Early Life O. Henry was born William Sydney Porter, son of a doctor and an artistic mother, on September 11, 1862 in North Carolina. O. Henry.

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Presentation on theme: "O. Henry. Early Life O. Henry was born William Sydney Porter, son of a doctor and an artistic mother, on September 11, 1862 in North Carolina. O. Henry."— Presentation transcript:

1 O. Henry

2 Early Life O. Henry was born William Sydney Porter, son of a doctor and an artistic mother, on September 11, 1862 in North Carolina. O. Henry was born William Sydney Porter, son of a doctor and an artistic mother, on September 11, 1862 in North Carolina. According to O. Henry, “I did more reading between my thirteenth and my nineteenth years than I have done in all the years since.” According to O. Henry, “I did more reading between my thirteenth and my nineteenth years than I have done in all the years since.”

3 Jobs At age fifteen O.Henry’s formal schooling ended, and he took an apprenticeship at his uncle’s pharmacy. At age fifteen O.Henry’s formal schooling ended, and he took an apprenticeship at his uncle’s pharmacy. At age nineteen he became a licensed pharmacist. At age nineteen he became a licensed pharmacist. This job choice was ironic since O.Henry began suffering from tuberculosis around that same time. This job choice was ironic since O.Henry began suffering from tuberculosis around that same time.

4 The Writing Begins Shortly after his marriage in 1887, O. Henry began perfecting his short stories which he previously had written simply to entertain friends. Shortly after his marriage in 1887, O. Henry began perfecting his short stories which he previously had written simply to entertain friends. To pay the bills, he took on a job as a banker and worked as a reporter and occasional cartoonist for a Houston newspaper. To pay the bills, he took on a job as a banker and worked as a reporter and occasional cartoonist for a Houston newspaper.

5 Eventually, O. Henry wrote around 300 short stories (sixty-five in 1904 alone!), during his 10 year literary career. Eventually, O. Henry wrote around 300 short stories (sixty-five in 1904 alone!), during his 10 year literary career. Nearly all stories included his signature surprise ending, or “snapper” as he called it. Nearly all stories included his signature surprise ending, or “snapper” as he called it.

6 “Snappers” O. Henry’s own life was full of twists and turns, making his interest in the surprise, twisty endings understandable. O. Henry’s own life was full of twists and turns, making his interest in the surprise, twisty endings understandable. For instance, while serving time in prison O. Henry- in the right place at the right time- saved a warden who had overdosed on arsenic. As a reward, O. Henry was allowed to roam freely about the jail, telling stories, and gathering stories from fellow prisoners. For instance, while serving time in prison O. Henry- in the right place at the right time- saved a warden who had overdosed on arsenic. As a reward, O. Henry was allowed to roam freely about the jail, telling stories, and gathering stories from fellow prisoners.

7 Philosophy on Writing “I’ll give you the whole secret of short-story writing…Rule 1: Write short stories that please yourself. There is no Rule 2.” – O. Henry “I’ll give you the whole secret of short-story writing…Rule 1: Write short stories that please yourself. There is no Rule 2.” – O. Henry “You can’t write a story that’s got any life in it by sitting at a writing table and thinking. You’ve got to get out into the streets, into the crowds, talk with people, and feel the rush and throb of real life- that’s the stimulant for a story writer.” – O. Henry, “You can’t write a story that’s got any life in it by sitting at a writing table and thinking. You’ve got to get out into the streets, into the crowds, talk with people, and feel the rush and throb of real life- that’s the stimulant for a story writer.” – O. Henry, 1902.

8 Philosophy on Writing cont. O. Henry’s exemplified his philosophy in his variety of life experiences and travels: O. Henry’s exemplified his philosophy in his variety of life experiences and travels: North Carolina North Carolina Texas Texas New Orleans New Orleans Escaped the police who tried to arrest him on false charges of embezzling $1,000 from the bank where he worked Escaped the police who tried to arrest him on false charges of embezzling $1,000 from the bank where he worked

9 Fled to Honduras Fled to Honduras Went to trial, was found guilty, and was sentenced to five years in a federal penitentiary in Columbus, Ohio Went to trial, was found guilty, and was sentenced to five years in a federal penitentiary in Columbus, Ohio Upon release- after three years for good behavior- went to New York City where his popularity as a writer soared. Upon release- after three years for good behavior- went to New York City where his popularity as a writer soared.

10 Important Historical Influences Civil War prior to O. Henry’s birth Civil War prior to O. Henry’s birth A year after O. Henry’s birth, Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation (1863). A year after O. Henry’s birth, Abraham Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation (1863). Lincoln assassinated in Lincoln assassinated in Rise of small-press publishing around making it possible for more people to have access to a variety of literature- coincided with O. Henry’s rise to fame. Rise of small-press publishing around making it possible for more people to have access to a variety of literature- coincided with O. Henry’s rise to fame.

11 “Local Color” During the heydey of O. Henry’s writing career (early 1900’s), a literary genre called “local color” sprang up to combat post-Civil War social separation. During the heydey of O. Henry’s writing career (early 1900’s), a literary genre called “local color” sprang up to combat post-Civil War social separation. Local color involved focusing on a specific regional culture as a source for strength- finding common qualities between different American regions. Local color involved focusing on a specific regional culture as a source for strength- finding common qualities between different American regions.

12 “Local Color” continued O. Henry’s region of choice was New York, though he also wrote stories set in the West, the deep South, and New Orleans. O. Henry’s region of choice was New York, though he also wrote stories set in the West, the deep South, and New Orleans. He also convincingly wrote stories about a variety of people: crooks, chiefs, policemen, cowboys, aristocrats, con-men, poverty-stricken, and millionaires. He also convincingly wrote stories about a variety of people: crooks, chiefs, policemen, cowboys, aristocrats, con-men, poverty-stricken, and millionaires.

13 O. Henry’s Life and “Gift of the Magi “Gift of the Magi” showed O. Henry’s interest in “local color” by giving a glimpse of a poverty-stricken couple in New York. “Gift of the Magi” showed O. Henry’s interest in “local color” by giving a glimpse of a poverty-stricken couple in New York. This short story also exhibited O. Henry’s knowledge of regional dialect in the characters’ dialogue. This short story also exhibited O. Henry’s knowledge of regional dialect in the characters’ dialogue. The ending is his traditional “snapper.” The ending is his traditional “snapper.”

14 The “local color” genre sought to draw society together by finding common ground between different kinds of people The “local color” genre sought to draw society together by finding common ground between different kinds of people Unlikely characters- such as destitute Jim and Della- take center stage and become the central “spectacle.” Unlikely characters- such as destitute Jim and Della- take center stage and become the central “spectacle.” In “Gift of the Magi” O. Henry shows all readers- rich or poor- a glimpse of how love, generosity, and self-sacrifice can be exhibited even in the most humble circumstances. In “Gift of the Magi” O. Henry shows all readers- rich or poor- a glimpse of how love, generosity, and self-sacrifice can be exhibited even in the most humble circumstances.


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