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What You Want & Other Stories

by O. Henry


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William Sidney Porter (11th September, 1862 – 5th June, 1910) was born in Greensboro, North Carolina to a father who was a doctor and a mother who died when he was three. Consequently he was raised by his grandmother and aunt, left school early and had a range of jobs mainly in Texas where he moved and met his first wife, Athol. Together they toured with music and theatre groups but eventually Porter took regular work to support them, and encouraged by his wife in 1884, he started a satirical weekly publication called Rolling Stone that featured his short stories and sketches. Whilst it failed to turn a profit, it did bring him attention and a job on the Houston post. However, his developed creative writing did not really start until he was in prison for embezzlement in 1898 and in New York, after his release when he became prolific, writing hundreds of short stories. Porter was a heavy drinker, and his health deteriorated markedly in 1908, which affected his writing. He died of cirrhosis of the liver, complications of diabetes, and an enlarged heart. After funeral services in New York City, he was buried in the Riverside Cemetery in Asheville, North Carolina. In Roads of Destiny, the protagonist, poet David Mignot, is literally at a crossroads and the story reveals what would happen if he took the left branch, right branch or main road. It is a fine example of O Henry's witty and warm style, his characteristic twists in the tale and surprise endings.

Publication Details

Deadtree Publishing
Miniature Masterpieces
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What You Want & Other Stories
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