Cabbages and Kings

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Author: Henry, O [PSEUD William Sydney Porter (1862-1910)]

Year: 1904

Publisher: McClure, Phillips & Company

Place: New York


[6], 344 pages. Small octavo (7 1.2" x 5") bound in publisher's decorative black cloth stamped in orange and green, lettered in orange, bottom page edge untrimmed. Author's first book. First issue with spine imprint "McClure / Phillips / & Co. (BAL 16270) First Edition, First Issue.

William Sydney Porter (September 11, 1862 - June 5, 1910), known by his pen name O. Henry, was an American writer. O. Henry's short stories are known for their wit, wordplay, warm characterization, and clever twist endings. Porter graduated from his aunt Evelina Maria Porter's elementary school in 1876. He then enrolled at the Lindsey Street High School. His aunt continued to tutor him until he was fifteen. In 1879, he started working in his uncle's drugstore and in 1881, at the age of nineteen, he was licensed as a pharmacist. Porter traveled with Dr. James K. Hall to Texas in March 1882, hoping that a change of air would help alleviate a persistent cough he had developed. He took up residence on the sheep ranch of Richard Hall; while on the ranch, he learned bits of Spanish and German from the mix of immigrant ranch hands. Porter's health did improve and he traveled with Richard to Austin in 1884, where he decided to remain and was welcomed into the home of the Harrells, who were friends of Richard's. Porter led an active social life in Austin, including membership in singing and drama groups. He was a good singer and musician. Porter met and began courting Athol Estes, then seventeen years old and from a wealthy family. Her mother objected to the match because Athol was ill, suffering from tuberculosis. On July 1, 1887, Porter eloped with Athol to the home of Reverend R. K. Smoot, where they were married. Porter began working at the First National Bank of Austin as a teller and bookkeeper. The bank was operated informally and Porter was apparently careless in keeping his books and may have embezzled funds. In 1894, he was accused by the bank of embezzlement and lost his job. Porter and his family moved to Houston in 1895. While he was in Houston, the First National Bank of Austin was audited by federal auditors and they found the embezzlement shortages that had led to his firing. A federal indictment followed and he was arrested on charges of embezzlement. He fled, first to New Orleans and later to Honduras, with which the United States had no extradition treaty at that time. While holed up in a Trujillo hotel for several months, he wrote Cabbages and Kings, in which he coined the term "banana republic" to describe the country, a phrase subsequently used widely to describe a small, unstable tropical nation in Latin America with a narrowly focused, agrarian economy.


Spine sunned, spine and corners a bit rubbed, a few small stains to top of front panel and throughout pages, very slight foxing else very good or better.

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