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Originally published: 2014-01-06 12:56:01
Last modified: 2014-01-06 12:56:47

Broyhill Civic Center to host Engle speaking on author O. Henry

Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute's J.E. Broyhill Civic Center will present lecturer Elliot Engle on at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 3 with a presentation on North Carolina native and short story author O. Henry.

Few authors have suffered more undeserved neglect than O. Henry. Engel redeems this master of the short story by emphasizing the forces that shaped his unique and universally appealing fiction.

Born William Sidney Porter in 1862 in Greensboro, he developed a love for reading as a child. 

He began working at his uncle's drugstore in 1879 and became a licensed pharmacist at the age of 19. 

At the drugstore, he also showed off his artistic talents by sketching cartoons of local patrons. 

In 1882, Porter moved to Texas in hopes of improving his health and worked on a sheep ranch as a shepherd, ranch hand, cook and baby sitter. 

Ranch life would play an important role in many of Porter's future literary works. 

In 1884, Porter moved to Austin and held several jobs. including work as a bank teller, draftsman and journalist. 

It was during this time that Porter first began to use his penname O. Henry, said to be derived from his frequent calling of "Oh, Henry," the family cat at his boarding house.

During his life, Porter was accused of embezzling funds, lost his wife to illness, and spent five years in an Ohio prison, which staged the circumstances for his remarkable comeback. 

From prison, Porter assumed his penname full time to shield his identity and moved to New York City where he published more than 300 stories and secured his place in America's literary history and gained worldwide acclaim as one of America's foremost short story writers.

Engel lives in Raleigh, where he has taught at the University of North Carolina, North Carolina State University and Duke University. 

He has lectured throughout the United States and on all the continents, including Antarctica.  Engel continues to teach outside the classroom and give literary and historical programs throughout the world.  

Tickets for the show are $12 for adults and $5 for children. CCC&TI students are admitted free with a valid student ID. 

For more information or for tickets, call the civic center box office at (828) 726-2407 or visit