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.
Bennett Cerf was born in 1898, in Manhattan. He was educated at Columbia University. In 1925 he acquired the Modern Library with Donald Klopfer, providing the foundation for their next publishing venture, Random House. A major figure of American publishing for more than four decades, Cerf died in 1971.