About the Series
Prize Story Selection
About the Series Editor and Prize Jury
ABOUT THE SERIES
What is THE O. HENRY PRIZE STORIES?
The O. Henry Prize Stories is an annual collection of the year's twenty best stories published in American and Canadian magazines, written in English.
Who was O. Henry?
O. Henry was the pen name of William Sydney Porter (1862-1910), who wrote and published more than 250 short stories between 1903 and 1910. Among his best- known stories: "The Gift of the Magi," "The Last Leaf," and "The Ransom of Red Chief."
Read more about the life of O. Henry.
What is the origin of the series?
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 to meet 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 a 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."
The firm of 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, and Doubleday continued to publish The O. Henry Prize Stories, as it came to be known, until 1996. Anchor Books, an imprint of Random House, Inc., is now the publisher and continues the work.
How is the dedication chosen for The O. Henry Prize Stories?
Starting in 2003, The O. Henry Prize Stories is dedicated to a writer who has
made a major contribution to the art of the short story; the first dedication
was to Mavis Gallant, a Canadian writer who lives in Paris. The O.Henry Prize
Stories 2005 was dedicated to the great Russian writer Anton Chekhov
Is there a list of past winners available anywhere?
Yes! Posted on this site is a list of O. Henry Prize Stories from 1919 to present--alphabetically, by author. Some day, we hope to post a searchable database of O. Henry Prize Stories on the Internet. For now, you will also find lists of the authors most frequently represented, other notable O. Henry Award-winners, and magazines that have published O. Henry Award-winning stories.
Why was there no O. Henry Prize Stories 2004?
The O. Henry Prize Stories 2005 was published in January rather than the
traditional date of October. There was always a difference between the year in
which the stories were published in a magazine and the year in which The O.
Henry Prize Stories was published, but it may appear that we skipped
considering stories from 2004. In fact, The O. Henry Prize Stories 2006 will be
based on stories originally written in English and published in Canada and the
United States in 2004.
PRIZE STORY SELECTION
Who chooses the stories for each volume of The O. Henry Prize Stories?
The series editor chooses 20 prize stories and up to fifteen recommended stories from among the thousands published in the 260 or so magazines submitted.
What kind of stories are considered for The O. Henry Prize Stories?
The O. Henry Prize Stories are selected from the submitted magazines. Stories must be originally written in English and published in Canada and the United States during the previous calendar year. There are no restrictions on genre. Novel excerpts and works in translation are not considered.
How does a story get nominated for The O. Henry Prize Stories?
There are no official nominations. The series editor chooses the prize stories from the magazines submitted throughout the year.
Is the nationality of the author a factor in selection?
No. The story must be originally written in English and published in a Canadian or American magazine. The nationality of the author is not a factor.
Are stories published only online eligible for the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories?
No, they are not. Our submission guidelines are as follows:
All stories originally written in the English language and published in an American or Canadian periodical are eligible for consideration. Online publications are not eligible for submission to the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories. Only print magazines are considered. Stories are not nominated; magazines submit the year's issues in their entirety by May 1. Individual stories may not be submitted by agents, editors, readers, or writers.
The series editor alone chooses the twenty PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories.
How do magazines submit to the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories?
Most magazines simply put the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories on their comp list. It's important that the editors check that the list carries over from year to year to be sure the PEN/O. Henry series editor is receiving the magazine.
Is there a deadline for submitting stories?
There is a new deadline for The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories. Stories must reach the series editor by May 1. If a finished magazine is unavailable before the deadline, magazine editors may submit scheduled stories in proof or in manuscript. Stories may not be submitted or nominated by agents or writers.
Where does a magazine editor submit issues to The O. Henry Prize Stories?
The address for submission is:
Laura Furman, series editor, The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories
The University of Texas at Austin
English Department, B5000
1 University Station
Austin, TX 78712
Should magazine editors select the stories they think best or should they send an entire issue?
The series editor wishes to read magazines in their entirety, not as individual selections. Please send complete issues at the time of publication.
Can stories be submitted individually by writers or other interested parties?
No. Submissions from authors and agents are not accepted.
Are all submitting magazines listed in The O. Henry Prize Stories?
Listing is not automatic; magazines must be approved to be added to the list. The criterion for being added to the list is the seriousness of the magazine's commitment to short fiction.
May a book of previously unpublished stories be considered for The O. Henry Prize Stories?
No. Only stories published in a Canadian or American periodical or magazine will be considered for The O. Henry Prize Stories.
ABOUT THE SERIES EDITOR and PRIZE JURY
How many series editors have there been in the eighty-year history of the series?
There have been nine series editors:
How are the prize winners determined?
1919-32 -- Blanche Colton Williams
1933-40 -- Harry Hansen
1941-51 -- Herschel Brickell
1952-53 -- series interrupted by Brickell's death
1954-59 -- Paul Engle
1960 -- Mary Stegner
1961-66 -- Richard Poirier (assisted by William Abrahams, 1964-66)
1967-96 -- William Abrahams
1997-2002 -- Larry Dark
2003-present -- Laura Furman
Currently, the editor selects the pieces for inclusion in The O. Henry Prize Stories. All are considered to be prize winners.
Who are the jurors and how are they chosen?
Each year, three distinguished fiction writers are asked annually to be jurors for the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories. Jurors evaluate the entire collection and write an appreciation of the story they most admire. The twenty PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories are presented in a blind manuscript, that is, one without identification of author or publication. The jurors act independently of each other and the series editor.
What do the jurors do?
The jurors read the twenty prize-winning stories in manuscript form so that they have no way of knowing who the authors are or where the stories were published. Without consulting one another, they each select their favorite and write a short essay about what led them to their choice. Thus, the exciting possibility exists that all three jurors will pick the same favorite.
Has the jury always picked their favorite stories included in the collection?
No. From the inception of the series until 1951, a committee or jury selected the top-prize winners. Past jurors included writers, academics, critics, and, in the early days, members of the Society of Arts and Sciences. From 1954, when Paul Engle became series editor, until 1997, the series editor chose the top-prize winners as well as the stories included in each volume.
The jury was brought back in 1997 when Larry Dark became series editor. The jurors read the stories and discussed them. Each juror voted for a first, second, and third prize winner. The series editor tallied the votes and, in consultation with the jurors, broke any ties.
The present jury system began with The O. Henry Prize Stories 2003.
How can teachers and professors obtain exam copies of The O. Henry Prize Stories?
For more information, and to request desk and exam copies, visit our Academic Resources Web site.