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Gift of the Magi

by O. Henry  |  Grades: 8+  |  Ages: 14+  

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry Teacher Guides, Lesosn Plans, Novel Unit, ActivitiesAbout The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

O. Henry's classic tale of the wisest gifts of Christmas

In a shabby New York flat, Della sobs as she counts the few coins she has saved to buy a Christmas present for her husband, Jim. A gift worthy of her devotion will require a great sacrifice: selling her long, beautiful hair. Jim, meanwhile, has made a sacrifice for Della that is no less difficult. As they exchange gifts on Christmas Eve, the discovery of what each has done fills them with despair, until they realize that the true gifts of Christmas can be found more readily in their humble apartment than in any fine store. O. Henry paints a masterly portrait of unfaltering love, a haven from the harsh world outside. 

A Biographical Note About O. Henry

For nearly a century, the work of William Sydney Porter, aka O. Henry (1862 - 1910) has delighted readers with its humor, irony and colorful, real-life settings. The writer's own life had more than a touch of color and irony.

Born William Sidney Porter in Greensboro, North Carolina in 1862, he worked on a Texas ranch, then as a bank teller in Austin, then as a reporter for the Houston "Post."

Adversity struck, however, when he was indicted for embezzlement of bank funds. Porter fled to New Orleans, then to Honduras before he was tried, convicted and imprisoned for the crime in 1898. In prison he began writing stories of Central America and the American Southwest that soon became popular with magazine readers. After his release Porter moved to New York City, where he continued writing stories under the pen name O.
Henry. Other works include The Ransom of Red Chief, The Last Leaf, and The Cop and the Anthem, among others.

Though his work earned him an avid readership, O. Henry died in poverty and oblivion scarcely eight years after his arrival in New York.  

Available Teacher Guides, Lesson Plans, Novel Units, and Activities for The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry: