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O. Henry (William Sydney Porter)



O. Henry (William Sydney Porter)
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 9 to 12
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.94

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    algernon, draftsman, indictment, pennames, sentimentality, following, unrelenting, mandolin, paternal, pessimistic, irony, recognition, bailed, drugstore, bookkeeper, better
     content words:    William Sydney Porter, North Carolina, Algernon Sidney Porter, One Thousand, One Nights, City Quartet, Athol Estes, In September, New Orleans, Athol Porter


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O. Henry (William Sydney Porter)
By Jamie Kee
  

1     William Sydney Porter, better known as O. Henry, was an American writer born on September 11, 1862, in Greensboro, North Carolina. Porter lost his mother to tuberculosis at the age of three, so he and his father, Dr. Algernon Sidney Porter, moved in with Porter's paternal grandmother.
 
2     Porter was a passionate reader during his youth and was especially fond of One Thousand and One Nights. He spent his youth in North Carolina where he continued his schooling until age fifteen. Porter then worked in his uncle's drugstore and became a licensed pharmacist in 1881 at nineteen years old. It was there where he often created drawings of the local townspeople.
 
3     Because of an unrelenting cough, Porter moved to Texas in March of 1882. He initially lived on a sheep ranch and worked as a shepherd, ranch hand, and cook. He learned Spanish and German from the immigrant ranch hands.
 
4     Porter's life in Texas was very active and social. He was both a good singer and musician and was involved in singing and drama groups. Porter was a member of the "Hill City Quartet" and played the guitar and mandolin. It was during this time that Porter met and courted his future wife, Athol Estes. Despite her mother's objections, they later eloped and were married on July 1, 1887. The following year they had their first child who, unfortunately, died shortly after birth. In September 1889, Athol gave birth to their daughter, Margaret.
 
5     Porter worked a variety of jobs while in Texas such as a pharmacist, draftsman, bank teller, and journalist. This was when Porter began writing on the side, which was encouraged by his wife, Athol. He submitted his works to various magazines and newspapers.

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