Life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating. -O. Henry

This week the U.S. Postal Service commemorated the 150th anniversary of the birth of O. Henry (the pen name of William Sydney Porter) with an O. Henry (Forever®) stamp in its  Literary Arts series. O. Henry is the twenty-eighth writer to be honored in the series.

“O. Henry was one of America’s wittiest and most popular short fiction writers,” said U.S. Postal Service chief operating officer and executive vice president Megan Brennan. “Beginning today, O. Henry will travel wherever the U.S. Mail goes, and we are proud to share his legacy with millions of Americans through this new stamp.”

Born September 11, 1862, on a plantation on the outskirts of Greensboro, North Carolina, O. Henry was one of the most popular and prolific storytellers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, writing nearly three hundred short stories for newspapers and literary magazines.

According to Beyond the Perf, the Postal Service’s online site for background on stamp subjects, O. Henry’s short stories are “beloved for their irony and skillful unfolding of plot; often, they end with a surprise twist.”

The Postal Service doesn’t mention one of the most intriguing things about the life of this celebrarted writer. Peggy Caravantes, author of Morgan Reynolds’ Writing is My Business: The Story of O. Henry, writes “William Porter began to use the pen name ‘O. Henry’ while he was in prison in the Ohio State Penitentiary. During his incarceration Porter began to write and sell stories to support his daughter. He needed a pseudonym because he did not want publishers to know he was a convict.”

Caravantes continues, “Success and fame did not bring O. Henry happiness. He wrote for hire, and always felt that he had never lived up to his true literary potential.” Obviously, not everyone felt as O. Henry did, as evidenced by the enduring legacy of this literary icon.

Sharon F. Doorasamy

Managing Editor

To learn more about O. Henry, check out Writing is My Business: The Story of O. Henry,by Peggy Caravantes (ISBN: 9781599350318)


Published in: on September 13, 2012 at 2:12 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Sharon, this is great!

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