Bill Porter might have remained an obscure figure, working his way upwards in pursuit of the American Dream, first as a journalist, then a banker. But then he was charged with embezzling funds from the First National Bank. Though he protested his innocence, he nonetheless fled the country. This didn't help his case, and when he finally returned to be with his family, he was arrested. Found guilty at trial, he went to federal prison for three years. End of story, right?
Well, not exactly. This ho-hum tale actually occured over a hundred years ago. And this year marks the 100 year anniversary of Bill's death on June 5, 1910. But we remember him, not because of his life as prisoner number 30664, but because of what he did after he was convicted and sent to prison. He began writing stories and sending them to magazines, and along the way became one of the most celebrated writers of the 20th century.
Perhaps embarrased by his past, he wrote under a pen name, and it is by that moniker that we know him today... O. Henry.
And now you know, if not the rest of the story, at least part of it.
Read this fascinating article in the Wall Street Journal to learn more:
His Writer's Workshop? A Prison Cell