The more than 600 stories written by O. Henry provided an embarrassment of riches for the compilers of this volume. The final selection of the thirty-eight stories in this collection offers for the reader's delight those tales honored almost unanimously by anthologists and those that represent, in variety and balance, the best work of America's favorite storyteller. They are tales in his most mellow, humorous, and ironic moods. They give the full range and flavor of the man born William Sydney Porter but known throughout the world as O. Henry, one of the great masters of the short story.
About O. Henry
William Sydney Porter (1862-1910) published all of his worka novel and some 300 short storiesunder the pseudonym 0. Henry. His talent for vivid caricature, local tone, narrative agility, and compassion tempered by irony made him a vastly popular writer in the last decade of his life. He was born in Greensboro, North Carolina, to ordinary middle-class parents and worked in an uncle’s drugstore as a youth, becoming a certified pharmacist. Like many Southerners after the Civil War, he sought his fortune in the West, holding various jobs (newspaper work, clerking in a land office, a teller at an Austin bank). Charged with embezzlement in 1894, he fled to Honduras, returning in 1897 to be with his ill and dying wife. His conviction was caused more by his eluding trial than by the conflicting evidence of theft. In the Ohio State Penitentiary (1898-1901), he began to write the stories that made him famous. He moved to New York, remarried, and kept his identity a secret from all but a few friends. He is buried in Asheville, North Carolina. He is universally honored for his mastery of the short story and for his humane spirit.
About Bennett Cerf
Bennett Cerf was born in 1898 in Manhattan and graduated from Columbia University with a degree in journalism. In 1925 he acquired the Modern Library with Donald Klopfer, providing the foundation for their next publishing venture, Random House. A major figure of American publishing for more than four decades, Bennett Cerf died in 1971.
Christopher Cerf is an author, editor, and Emmy- and Grammy-winning songwriter and television producer. A longtime contributor to Sesame Street, and cofounder and creative producer of the PBS literacy-education series Between the Lines, Christopher Cerf is a former contributing editor of National Lampoon and a former senior editor at Random House.