Excerpt from O. Henry, a Memorial Essay
No one locality, with local or provincial pride, is eh titled to boast that from its soil and out of its life was the artist, 0. Henry, created and moulded. In an unique sense, his stories are a part of all that he had seen, of all whom he had known, of all the strange and familiarplaces that he had visited in his nomadic wanderings. North Carolina has the honor of being the State of his birth and his last resting place. Greensboro, his birth place, cherishes the memory of this son of Guilford, born on September the eleventh, eighteen hundred and sixty two. His father, Dr. Algernon Sidney Porter, was a physi cian of skill and distinction; his mother, Mary Jane Vir ginia Swaim, was a devotee of literature, and certain of her poems appeared in The Greensboro Patriot, at one time edi ted by her father, William Swaim. His grandmother on the paternal side was a sister of Governor Jonathan Worth of North Carolina, who once said, in a private letter, that so far as he had ever heard, there was not a blemish spot upon any of the race as to integrity and honor. Left motherless at the age of three, he was reared by his aunt, Miss Eve lena Porter, a woman of powerful individuality and striking ability as a teacher. With the exception of a term or two at graded school, young Porter received his early education under the tutelage of his Aunt Lena; and the books habitually read to him by his aunt during the recess hour went far to develop his taste for reading and love of good books. The school children, who gathered at Miss Lena's on Friday nights, customarily indulged in a game of story telling, one of the party beginning the story and each in turn taking up the thread of the narrative until it was con cluded. It is not fanciful to surmise that, in this innocent and amusing game, his talent for narrative and his idio syncrasy for the unexpected denouement first found its original impulse. After the thorough schooling with its Spur to literary aspiration given him by his aunt, young Porter attended the academy; but in the light of the man's own Bohemian nature, we may be sure that he learnedmore from his private reading than from his more rigidly prescribed studies. I did more reading between my thirteenth and my nineteenth years, he once naively con fessed, than I have done in all the years since. And my taste was much better then. Iused to read nothing but classics. Burton's 'anatomy of Melancholy' and Lane's translation of the 'arabian Nights' were my favorites.
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