EPITAPH : WILLIAM PORTER

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Welcome to Epitaph for D’s Art Takes. Here we present the creative legacies of influential people, who are no longer among us. Today we invite you to take a look at the life of the American writer, William Sydney Porter. Also known as O Henry.

William Sydney Porter was born, in North Carolina, USA, in 1862. Young Porter nurtured a literary fascination from a young age. And read voraciously. After attending Eveline Maria Porter’s elementary school, he attended Lindsey Street High School. His first job was to serve as an assistant and clerk at his uncle’s pharmacy. Here, he spent his free moments drawing and sketching.

Life of a Writer : William Porter to O Henry

From his uncle’s shop, to a ranch in Texas, and then working at a bank. Porter had several different jobs and a range of experience. His entrepreneurial nature led to the launch of his weekly publication, The Rolling Stone. Despite seeing little success, Porter continued to write. He shut down the publication, and became a columnist for the Houston Post instead. He also worked as a journalist.

Around the late 1890s, Porter was arrested for embezzlement. He used his time in jail doing what he most loved – writing. He wrote a series of short stories that were later published as Cabbages and Kings (1904). Upon his release, Porter travelled to New York. And thus began his journey as a serious writer. He always wrote under the pseudonym O Henry.

New York became the setting for most of Porter’s short stories. Through his tales, he told the story of the middle class New Yorker. Some of his most famous series include The Four Million (1906), The Gentle Grafter and The Voice of the City (both 1908); Options (1909). His other books included Sixes and Sevens (1911); Rolling Stones (1912); Waifs and Strays (1917); O. Henryana (1920).

Porter died in 1910.


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