0. Henry’s original name was William Sydney
Porter. As a young man, he moved to Austin, Texas
where he worked as a bank teller. He moved again
to Houston, Texas in 1895 and became a
In 1896, however, he was called back to Austin,
where he was charged with embezzling money
from the bank where he had worked. Not wanting
to go to prison for his crime, 0. Henry fled to
Honduras, and stayed there for six months before
returning back to the United States.
Upon his return, the court tried him and put him
in Ohio prison for three years. While in prison, he
began writing short stories and it is there that he
took the pen-name 0. Henry for his writings.
After his release from prison in 1901, he moved to
New York, which is the plot for many of his
stories. He had authored over 250 stories and was
most famous for his use of surprise endings. You
can notice these surprises in the endings to The
Last Leaf, The Green Door, and perhaps his most
famous story, The Gift of the Magi.