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Cover for O. Henry

O. Henry

101 Stories (LOA #345)

O. Henry, Ben Yagoda (Editor)


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The ultimate O. Henry: an annotated edition of classic tales by America's master storyteller

Texas troubadour, convicted embezzler, and adopted New Yorker William Sidney Porter—better known as O. Henry—was one of the world’s great storytellers. A master of cunning plots and a gifted humorist, he is best known today for his beloved tale “The Gift of the Magi.” But O. Henry’s palette of moods and methods was as expansive as his exuberant imagination.
This Library of America volume offers a fresh look at the full range of his literary genius. Here are 101 stories, including such favorites as “The Ransom of Red Chief,” “The Last of the Troubadours,” and “The Cop and the Anthem,” alongside lesser-known and previously uncollected stories, including three early tales published here for the first time. With full annotation and a newly researched chronology of Porter’s life and career, this is a definitive edition for modern readers of a major American writer.

Praise For O. Henry: 101 Stories (LOA #345)

"The book’s appearance in this distinguished series provides fresh evidence that, despite occasional skepticism from critics and scholars, O. Henry has secured a place in the country’s literary pantheon. . . . More than a century later, O. Henry keeps on getting the last laugh." —The Wall Street Journal

“To most American readers, though, O. Henry is known mainly for two anthology standards, “The Ransom of Red Chief,” in which two naive rogues kidnap an insufferable little boy, and “The Gift of the Magi,” the tale of the impoverished young couple who find just the right Christmas presents for each other. Both these mini-classics are perfectly executed, but as this new Library of America volume, “O. Henry: 100 Stories,” edited by Ben Yagoda, demonstrates again and again, there are many others just as good.” —Michael Dirda, The Washington Post

"A treasure vault of work by a master of the short story form. . . . Yagoda’s well-selected anthology follows O. Henry through all his phases, from Texas bank clerk to fugitive (on account of embezzlement) in Honduras, federal prisoner, and, finally, reasonably successful New Yorker. The volume’s highlight, of course, is Henry’s best-known and much-loved story, 'The Ransom of Red Chief,' in which two con men kidnap a 'boy of ten, with bas-relief freckles, and hair the colour of the cover of the magazine you buy at the news-stand when you want to catch a train,' who makes their lives a bit of hell on Earth. Most of the stories, 'Red Chief' foremost among them, read as if freshly written. . . . The volume provides ample evidence for why one of American literature’s most eminent literary awards should be named for the author.  Essential for students of the short story and for fans of Henry’s work." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Library of America, 9781598536904, 840pp.

Publication Date: July 13, 2021

About the Author

O. Henry, the pen name of William Sydney Porter (1862-1910), was a prolific American short story writer whose collections included Cabbages and Kings, The Four Million, Whirligigs, and The Heart of the West.

Ben Yagoda, editor, is the author or editor of thirteen books, including The B-Side: The Death of Tin Pan Alley and the Rebirth of the Great American Song; About Town: The New Yorker and the World It Made; and How to Not Write Bad. His work has been published in The American Scholar, The Atlantic, Esquire, the New York Times Magazine, Slate, and many other publications. A Guggenheim Fellow, he is Professor Emeritus of English and Journalism at the University of Delaware.