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Christmas Eve always brings surprises. Austin, Texas, 1897: young Will Porter is yanked from his wife and daughter, charged with embezzlement at the bank where he works. Frightened and bewildered, Will moves to Houston, then New Orleans and Honduras – to escape prosecution.
In Central America, his mind is stimulated by new surroundings. He creates the Cisco Kid and other characters that will populate his future stories. Will returns to Austin when he learns his wife has Tuberculosis. He is arrested immediately, tried and convicted. He is transported to prison in Ohio, days after his wife dies.
Devastated and humiliated, Will struggles behind bars – considering suicide. He writes a story about a man who has nothing to live for -- sends the manuscript to friend in New Orleans, who forwards it to a New York magazine. To further hide his identity, Will signs his story "O.Henry."
The magazine buys the story and wants more. Will writes and sells a dozen short stories in prison, sending each to publishers via New Orleans, signed with his new pen name. When he is released, O.Henry is famous. Will goes to New York where he becomes Doubleday's best-selling author.
After a night of being toasted at a gathering of New York literati as the world's greatest short story writer, the master of surprise twists – O.Henry wanders Times Square listening to carols and bells. He realizes it's Christmas Eve. He thinks back, years ago, to that Christmas Eve with his wife and daughter. He sits on a cold curb, takes out a pad and writes his famous "Gifts of the Magi."
Highlights of several O.Henry stories are dramatized throughout, including "The Last Leaf," "Cop and the Anthem," "Cisco Kid," "Ransom of Red Chief," "Voice of the City," "Whistling Dick's Christmas Stocking" and "Gifts of the Magi" – featuring people and events that inspired Will Porter. This factual biography is based on my father's book "TIME TO WRITE – How William Sidney Porter Became O.Henry"
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