O. Henry Ending

   William Sydney Porter (1862-1910) was one of the most renowned and intriguing short-story writers in the United States. But his earl life was a hard-luck epic filled with trials and tribulations.
   Born in Greensboro, North Carolina, Porter was only three when he lost his mother. At fifteen, he left school. Five years later, he migrated to Texas, where he was unsuccessful at various employments. In 1891, he became a bank teller at an Austin bank and was indicted for embezzlement in 1896. Protesting his innocence (the amount was small, and he claimed mismanagement), he fled to Honduras and South America, leaving behind his wife and young son. When Porter learned that his wife was dying, he returned to Texas, was tried and convicted of embezzlement, and served three years in a federal penitentiary. During his incarceration, his son died.
   By the time Porter was thirty-five, he had lost everything: His wife and son had died and his association with an Austin humor magazine that he had once edited was gone. While in prison, Porter began writing, using a pseudonym to disguise his identity. On his release, he headed for New York and began a career in journalism. Although troubled by alcoholism, Porter was a prolific writer in the twelve years between his confinement and his death. He wrote 700 stories, publishing Cabbages and Kings in 1904, The Four Million in 1906, Voice of the City in 1908, and Options in 1909. His stories, which featured everyday people, were characterized by the use of coincidence and ironic surprise endings. The author's deep emotions penetrated his writings. His "Gift of the Magi" became a classic almost from the time it was written.
   Porter had a constant bout with hypoglycemia. He summarized his condition by saying, "I was born eight drinks below par." His last words were an order to a nurse: "Pull up the shades. I don't want to go home in the dark."

Dictionary of eponyms. . 2013.

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