Heritage, Summer 2005 Page: 33
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@ kL1 A C ~~
Dr. Jenny Lind Porter, a distant relative
of the writer O. Henry (W.S. Porter), has
done a great service to readers everywhere
by bringing to light a never-before published
short story by the noted author.
According to Jenny Lind Porter, bibliographies
of William Sydney Porter do not
mention the short story, Joe and Billy nor
is it included in any of O. Henry's collected
works. Because of the good condition of
the manuscript when it was found, Porter
believes that it was written during the
time that O. Henry lived on a LaSalle
County ranch in Texas. Furthermore, she
thinks that the story might have been
given to someone who took great care
with it over the years. Explaining this further,
Porter says, "It might seem strange
that an unknown O. Henry story could
appear 94 years after his death. However it
is not unusual for a family, a friend, a collector
to hold on to documents for many
years. In time, children and grandchildren
decide to part with things."
Porter first saw an announcement of the
unpublished manuscript, which was available
for sale, in a rare book catalogue. She
notified Valerie Bennett, curator of the 0.
Henry Museum, and the City of Austin,
operator of the facility, stepped forward to
buy the manuscript. It is now included in
the archives of the 0. Henry Museum in
Austin. This gave Porter opportunity to
study the rare find in great detail.
Citing minor flaws and awkward sentence
constructions, Porter believes that the manuscript
is probably one of O. Henry's earliest
efforts. But, she wrote in the story's forward,
"These imperfections do not cancel the
human appeal of the story, its compelling
warmth and sweetness."
In addition to the short story, Porter, an
O. Henry scholar, provides additional
insight into the life of the man whose life
included time spent as a banker, a mapmaker,
a prisoner, and finally a successful
writer. Perhaps one of the most interesting
facts is the light that Porter has shed on
the origin of the 0. Henry pseudonym.
Using the Dispensatory of the United
States of America, a drugstore recipe-type
book that was widely used in the 1800s,
Porter was able to find reference to a
French chemist-pharmacist named Etienne
Ossian Henry. Further, in an excerpt
from the reference book, Porter saw
Henry's name abbreviated O. Henry.
Knowing that the American writer was a
registered pharmacist, Porter was able to
substantiate what one 0. Henry biographer
had long thought: the French pharmacist's
shortened name may have been
the source for the American writer's pen
This book, which includes the short
story, beautiful illustrations, a copy of the
original manuscript, and the forward by
Dr. Porter, is filled with many fascinating
tidbits about O. Henry's diverse life. It is
an interesting read that both adults and
children will enjoy.-Gene Krane
Joe and Billy
By W.S. Porter (O. Henry)
Introduction by Jenny Lind Porter
Illustrations by Kay Sims Campbell
Review by Kelly Schaefer-Flake
Kelly Schaefer-Flake is in
sixth-grade at Fulmore
Middle School in Austin.
I liked this book a lot.
It is a very sweet story
I think that this book is for kids of any
age, although children under the age of
seven might not be ready yet to read it. I
know that it would have been a little too
challenging for me at age five or six, but I
think that any kid will be able to grasp the
concept of the story even if it is read to
them by someone else.
The book is about a little boy and one of
the animals on his father's ranch and how
the boy has to save his friend Billy, the
ram. I felt that I wanted to cry just because
it was so great that the little boy went to
desperate measures to save the animal that
had befriended him, and how the animal
did the same for the boy.
O. Henry is known for his short stories
and their surprise endings. While this
story did not have a surprise ending, it was
still very good.
I am excited that I was able to read a
story that took place in Texas and was
written a long time ago by a writer who
lived in Austin. I hope that other kids
have the opportunity to read and enjoy
this book as much as I did.
I think that anyone who starts reading
this book will not want to stop until they
$25; order from Southwest Classics Press,
PO. Box 5391, Austin, Texas 78763-5391.
H E R I TA G E U SUMMER 2005
An Unknown Children's Story by the Famous Atho
For Children Five to Ninety-Five
Introduction by JEY LIND PORrT
Sixteen llustatio by KAY SoMS CAMPBE-L
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Summer 2005, periodical, Summer 2005; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45369/m1/33/: accessed October 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.