William Porter started writing under the pen name “O. Henry” while in the Ohio State Penitentiary, serving a five year sentence for embezzlement. The name “O. Henry” first appeared in 1899 on a short story, and very quickly O. Henry became arguably the most popular short story writer in America. This collection of short stories was published in 1907, a few years before his death in 1910.
Heart of the West is a collection of 19 short stories about the American west – mostly Texas – in the 1880s. At that time, Porter was in his 20s and living in Texas. His experiences there and then shaped the stories in this collection.
Do not think that these stories are like the spaghetti westerns with simple stories and cowboys and guns. All are very entertaining reads, many of the stories feature a romantic-comedy theme of two young men competing for the attention of a woman, and all are studies of the human condition in the 1880s American West, with the surprise endings for which O. Henry is famous.