When we were in Austin, Texas we had the pleasure of stopping into the O. Henry Museum. The English Major in me just had to check it out, and as an added bonus: it’s free. O. Henry was the pen name used by William Sydney Porter. He was a renowned short story writer. Among his most famous works are: “The Gift of the Magi” and “The Ransom of Red Chief”.
The museum is quite small, but I still enjoyed walking through it. I love antiques.. I think I’ve talked about that before. This place is full of them. Many of them are furniture and knick knacks that belonged to William Sydney Porter and his family. While this is called a museum it isn’t one in the typical sense, it’s more like walking through a house decorated with furnishing from the late 1800’s.
The Porters occupied this house between 1893 and 1895. It was really interesting to see the outside of the house as well. This cute little cottage is surrounded by high-rise buildings. It gives you an idea of how drastically the scenery has changed over the years.
In 1896 Porter was indicted for embezzlement. He chose to run: first to New Orleans and then to Honduras. When Porter learned that his wife had fallen ill he returned to Austin in 1897. Upon his return his father-in-law posted bail so he could be with his dying wife and their daughter. Upon his wife’s death, Porter was found guilty of embezzlement and sentenced to five years in prison. While in prison he continued publishing stories under various pen names, the most popular of which was, O. Henry.
William Sydney Porter had an interesting life; full of sadness and strife which I dare say added to his writing. If you’re ever in Austin, this little place is definitely worth a stop in.