Author of more than 600 short stories, O Henry has been called America's answer to Maupassant. Like Maupassant, he is a master of surprise endings, but his stories are warmer and more optimistic. Humorous, dramatic, occasionally tragic, they catch the whole flavour of America in the last years of the 19th and the first years of the 20th centuries. O Henry's picturesque career, including a spell in prison, gave him a special feeling for the seamy side of life and provided him with a glorious array of characters - burglars, conmen, struggling artists, bumptious journalists, star-crossed lovers, gamblers, drunks and down-and-outs. Set in New York or small town America, his stories capture the pathos and heroism of ordinary lives and satirise the rich and famous. A hundred years after his death, this centenary selection pays homage to one of America's best-loved and most characteristic writers.--This text refers to the Paperback edition.