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O. Henry Memorial Award Prize Stories of 1920   By:

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E text prepared by Stan Goodman


Chosen by the Society of Arts and Sciences

With an Introduction by Blanche Colton Williams

Author of "A Handbook on Story Writing," "Our Short Story Writers," Etc.

Associate Professor of English, Hunter College of the City of New York.

Instructor in Story Writing, Columbia University (Extension Teaching and Summer Session).


EACH IN HIS GENERATION. By Maxwell Struthers Burt

"CONTACT!" By Frances Noyes Hart

THE CAMEL'S BACK. By F. Scott Fitzgerald

BREAK NECK HILL. By Esther Forbes



THE ARGOSIES. By Alexander Hull

ALMA MATER. By O. F. Lewis

SLOW POISON. By Alice Duer Miller

THE FACE IN THE WINDOW. By William Dudley Pelley

A MATTER OF LOYALTY. By Lawrence Perry


THE THING THEY LOVED. By "Marice Rutledge"

BUTTERFLIES. By "Rose Sidney"

NO FLOWERS. By Gordon Arthur Smith

FOOTFALLS. By Wilbur Daniel Steele

THE LAST ROOM OF ALL. By Stephen French Whitman


O. HENRY MEMORIAL AWARD PRIZE STORIES 1919, in its introduction, rendered a brief account of the origin of this monument to O. Henry's genius. Founded in 1918 by the Society of Arts and Sciences, through the initiative of Managing Director John F. Tucker, it took the form of two annual prizes of $500 and $250 for, respectively, the best and second best stories written by Americans and published in America.

The Committee of Award sifted the periodicals of 1919 and found thirty two which, in their opinion, were superior specimens of short story art. The prize winners, determined in the manner set forth, were Margaret Prescott Montague's "England to America" and Wilbur Daniel Steele's "For They Know Not What They Do." For these stories the authors duly received the awards, on the occasion of the O. Henry Memorial dinner which was given by the Society at the Hotel Astor, June 2, 1920.

Since it appeared to be a fitting extension of the memorial to incorporate in volume form the narratives chosen, they were included, either by title or reprint, in the first book of the series of which this is the second. Thus grouped, they are testimony to unprejudiced selection on the part of the Committee of Award as they are evidence of ability on the part of their authors.

The first volume has met favour from critics and from laymen. For the recognition of tedious, if pleasant, hours necessary to a meticulous survey of twelve months' brief fiction, the Committee of Award are grateful, as they are indebted to the generous coöperation of authors and publishers, but for whom the work would have been impossible of continuation.

The committee express thanks for the approval which affirms that "No more fitting tribute to the genius of William Sidney Porter (O. Henry) could possibly have been devised than that of this 'Memorial Award,'" [1] which recognizes each story as "a definite expression of American life as O. Henry's was," [2] which knows by inescapable logic that a story ranking second with five judges is superior to one ranking first with only one of these. A number of reviewers graciously showed awareness of this fact.

[Footnote 1: New York Times , June 2, 1920.]

[Footnote 2: Chicago Tribune , Paris Edition, August 7, 1920.]

The Committee of Award for 1920 consisted of

BLANCHE COLTON WILLIAMS, Ph.D., Chairman EDWARD J. WHEELER, Litt.D. JUDGES ETHEL WATTS MUMFORD MERLE ST. CROIX WRIGHT, D.D. and JOHN F. TUCKER, Managing Director of the Society, Founder of the O. Henry Memorial.

As in preceding years the Committee held regular meetings at which they weighed the merits of every story candidate presented. By January, 1921, one hundred and twenty five remained, among which those rated highest are as follows:[3]

Babcock, Edwina Stanton, Gargoyle ( Harper's , Sept... Continue reading book >>

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