Last Updated 11 Jan 2023

A Review of O. Henry’s Famous Short Story “The Gift of the Magi”

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The Gift of the Magi, by O. Henry, is the most famous short story he has written. This story. like many of his other short stories, was written while he was at the Ohio Penitentiary. O. Henry wrote in a manner that most readers were able to identify with the situations in the story. "The Gift of the Magi" was no different, as it showed what one couple does for love in the face of financial destitution. O. Henrys life influenced his stories.

William Sydney Porter, better known to readers as O. Henry, was born on September 11, 1862, in Greensboro, North Carolina (W.S. Porter 1 of 1). He was the son of Algernon and Mary Virginia Swaim Porter. His father was a physician and his mother spent her time writing poems. Unfortunately, his mother died of tuberculosis when he was only three-years-old (American Literature 1846).

Upon his mothers death, he was left to be raised by his grandmother and his Aunt Lina (American Literature 1846). His aunt and his grandmother frequently read to him when he was a child. Henry didnt have many friends as a child. He spent most of his time at home (Linder 1 of 1). O. Henry loved to read and developed a lifelong love for literature (Kirjasto 1 of 1).

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Henry was not like many other famous writers. He left school at the age fifteen (Kirjasto 1 of 1). He didnt attend college nor did he receive any other formal education. The only education he got was from his Aunt Lina (W.S. Porter 1 of 1).

Henry didnt established many long lasting relationships in his lifetime. Henry got married in July of 1887 to Athol Estes. He and Athol had one daughter together, Margaret (American Literature 1846). Athol became ill in 1897 and died a few months later (W.S. Porter 1 of 1). He later remarried to his childhood friend, Sarah Lindsay Coleman. His marriage with Sarah was not a happy one though; they separated in 1908 after only a year (Kirjasto 1 of 1).

Henrys first job came at the age of fifteen (O. Henry 1 of 1). He worked at his uncles pharmacy and soon became a licensed pharmacist (American Literature 1846). In 1882, he was sent to Texas due to health problems and began to work on a sheep ranch (W.S. Porter 1 of 1). Henry moved to Austin in 1884 and held several jobs there; he was a pharmacist, a clerk, a draftsman, and then a banker (O. Henry 1 of 1). He became popular for his singing, cartooning, and storytelling during his stay in Austin (American Literature 1846).

His writing career began when he started the humorous weekly, The Rolling Stone. The weekly was a failure, so he joined the Houston Post as a reporter and a columnist (O. Henry 1 of 1). Shortly after, he was convicted for embezzling money from the First National Bank in Austin and as a result, he was sent to the Ohio Penitentiary. He started to write short stories while in prison to earn money to support his daughter (Kirjasto 1 of 1). He adapted his pen name, O. Henry, from prison (American Literature 1846). Most of O. Henrys best work was written during his three years in prison.

He published more than 300 short stories. His stories have been collected in about twenty volumes, with about thirteen actually being published. Henry was honored after his death when an award was named after him. The O. Henry Memorial Awards debuted in 1919. The stories winning the award are published annually in a single volume (Werlock 210).

In 1908, Henry moved to North Carolina because of his deteriorating health. On a trip to New York City in June of 1910, Henry collapsed and was hospitalized (American Literature 1846). He died a few days later on June 5, 1910 at the young age of forty-seven. His last words were, Turn up the lights I dont want to go home in the dark(Linden 1 of 1). He died of tuberculosis, which was worsened by his abuse of alcohol and his diabetes (O. Henry 1 of 1).

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