Anchor Books The O. Henry Prize Stories
About the Series Widely regarded as the nation's most prestigious awards for short fiction
O. Henry Bio
Publishing History
Author Spotlight
Winners
Prize Jury
About the Editor
Notable Magazines
Index of Literary Magazines
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Eight years after O. Henry's death, in April 1918, the Twilight Club (founded in 1883 and later known as the Society of Arts and Letters) held a dinner in his honor at the Hotel McAlpin in New York City. His friends remembered him so enthusiastically that a committee met at the Hotel Biltmore in December 1918 to establish an O. Henry memorial. The committee decided to award prizes in his name for short-story writers, and it formed the Committee of Award to read the short stories published in a year and to pick the winners. In the words of Blanche Colton Williams (1879-1944), the first of the nine series editors, the memorial intended to "strengthen the art of the short story and to stimulate younger authors."

Doubleday, Page & Company was chosen to publish the first volume of O. Henry Memorial Award Prize Stories 1919. In 1927, the Society sold to Doubleday, Doran & Company all rights to the annual collection. Doubleday published The O. Henry Prize Stories, as it came to be known, in hardcover, and from 1984-1996 its subsidiary, Anchor Books, published it simultaneously in paperback. Since 1997 The O. Henry Prize Stories has been published as an original Anchor Books paperback.

Over the years, the rules and methods of selection have varied. As of 2003, the series editor chooses twenty short stories, each one an O. Henry Prize Story. All stories originally written in the English language and published in an American or Canadian periodical are eligible for consideration.

Three jurors are appointed annually. The jurors receive the twenty prize stories in manuscript form, with no identification of author or publication. Each juror, acting independently, chooses a short story of special interest and merit, and comments on that story.

The goal of The O. Henry Prize Stories remains to strengthen the art of the short story.