O. Henry is the pen name of William Sidney Porter, who was born on September 11, 1862 in Greensboro, North Carolina. Porter was a licensed pharmacist and worked on a sheep ranch in Texas. He was a draftsman for the General Land Office and a teller for the First National Bank of Texas. He was convicted of embezzlement and eventually served five years in prison. While in prison, he began writing short stories under his pseudonym and eventually wrote over 300. As O. Henry, Porter is one of America's best known writers, and his stories, such as "The Gift of the Magi" and "The Ransom of Red Chief", are still taught in schools. In 1918, the O. Henry Awards, an annual anthology of short stories, was established in his honor. Porter died on June 5, 1910.
Author, artist, literary critic and translator Guy Davenport was born on November 23, 1927 in Anderson, South Carolina. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Duke University in 1948 and was selected as a Rhodes Scholar. He earned a Bachelor of Literature from Merton College, Oxford University in 1950 and a Doctor of Philosophy from Harvard University in 1961. He taught English at several universities from 1951 until his retirement in 1990. He received numerous awards including the O. Henry Award for short stories, the 1981 Morton Douwen Zabel award for fiction from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and translation awards from PEN and the Academy of American Poets. He died on January 4, 2005 in Lexington, Kentucky.