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The Last Leaf

O. Henry is best known for his witty short stories with unexpected endings. Born William Sydney Porter, this author decided to use a pen name for his writings while he was in prison and afterwards. O. Henry brought his own information about prison and “the life of crime” into his stories. This paired with wit and plot twists is what made him such a renowned author. While O.Henry’s style is to use inspiration from his own life to aid his stories, another big part of his style is to have ironic, witty endings. O. Henry wrote some of his stories based off of where he has lived. For example, he lived in New York, North Carolina, Texas, and Honduras which all provided great inspiration for his stories. The Last Leaf, a short story by O. Henry, published in 1907 in his collection The Trimmed Lamp and Other Stories. The story is set in Greenwich Village during a pneumonia epidemic. It tells the story of an old artist who saves the life of a young artist, dying of pneumonia, by giving her the will to live. She believes that when the ivy vine on the wall outside her window loses all its leaves, she will also die. Seemingly, it never does fall, and she survives. We learn that in reality, the vine lost all its leaves. What she thought she saw was a leaf, painted on the wall with perfect realism, by the old artist, her neighbour Behrman. Johnsy recovers, but for Behrman, that leaf on the wall was his last masterpiece… You can listen online to free English audiobook “The Last Leaf” by O. Henry on our website.

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