50 Inspirational Quotes from O. Henry: Gleaning Wisdom from a Master Storyteller

William Sydney Porter, better known by his pen name O. Henry, was an American short story writer who lived from 1862 to 1910. He was known for his witty narration, plot twists, and characters that ranged from the sophisticated elite to the humble underdogs. He published hundreds of short stories, becoming popular for his play on words and unexpected endings.

O. Henry’s life was as unpredictable as his stories, a fact that contributed to his unique perspective. Despite facing financial difficulties, a prison term, and various other challenges, he remained resilient, always using his sharp wit and keen observation to portray the life he saw around him. O. Henry’s body of work is a testament to his ability to find humor, inspiration, and insight in even the most difficult of circumstances.

O. Henry’s tales and the wisdom gleaned from them are a testament to his belief in the inherent goodness of people, the significance of sacrifice, and the unpredictability of life. His quotes serve as powerful life lessons for each of us. Let’s explore 50 of these inspirational quotes from O. Henry:

Handpicked 50 Inspirational Quotes from O. Henry

  1. Life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.”
  2. “We can’t buy one minute of time with cash; if we could, rich people would live longer.”
  3. “Each of us, when our day’s work is done, must seek our ideal, whether it be love or pinochle or lobster à la Newburg, or the sweet silence of the musty bookshelves.”
  4. “Chance is the pseudonym of God when he did not want to sign.”
  5. “The true adventurer goes forth aimless and uncalculating to meet and greet unknown fate.”
  6. “It is said that love makes the world go ’round – the announcement lacks verification. It’s wind from the dinner horn that does it.”
  7. “Turn up the lights. I don’t want to go home in the dark.”
  8. “It brings up happy old days when I was only a farmer and not an agriculturist.”
  9. “By rights, you’re a king. If I was you, I’d call for a new deal.”
  10. “She plucked from my lapel the invisible strand of lint (the universal act of woman to proclaim ownership).”
  11. “A straw vote only shows which way the hot air blows.”
  12. “Write what you like; there is no other rule.”
  13. “There is one day that is ours. Thanksgiving Day is the one day that is purely American.”
  14. “Beauty is Nature in perfection; circularity is its chief attribute. Behold the full moon, the enchanting golf ball, the domes of splendid temples, the huckleberry pie, the wedding ring, the circus ring, the ring for the waiter, and the ’round’ of drinks.”
  15. “In dress, habits, manners, provincialism, routine and narrowness, he acquired that charming insolence, that irritating completeness, that sophisticated crassness, that overbalanced poise that makes the Manhattan gentleman so delightfully small in his greatness.”
  16. “There are stories in everything. I’ve got some of my best yarns from park benches, lampposts, and newspaper stands.”
  17. “Whenever he saw a dollar in another man’s hands he took it as a personal grudge, if he couldn’t take it any other way.”
  18. “The windows of my soul I throw wide open to the sun.”
  19. “Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.”
  20. “Love and business and family and religion and art and patriotism are nothing but shadows of words when a man’s starving!”
  21. “It ain’t the roads we take; it’s what’s inside of us that makes us turn out the way we do.”
  22. “The true adventurer goes forth aimless and uncalculating to meet and greet unknown fate.”
  23. “When one loves one’s Art no service seems too hard.”
  24. “I’ll give you the whole secret to short story writing. Here it is. Rule 1: Write stories that please yourself. There is no Rule 2.”
  25. “If there has been any crime, it must be punished. If there has been any property wrongfully disposed of, the property must be restored. Let the government do this much at least.”
  26. “No friendship is an accident.”
  27. “You can’t appreciate home till you’ve left it, money till it’s spent, your wife till she’s joined a woman’s club, nor Old Glory till you see it hanging on a broomstick on the shanty of a consul in a foreign town.”
  28. “Life is made up of little things. It is very rarely that an occasion is offered for doing a great deal at once.”
  29. “I have been the biscuit and the chicken. I have been the theater and the acting company, the whole cast, audience and critics. I have been the alley and the cat.”
  30. “Man is too thoroughly an egoist not to be also an egotist; if he love, the object shall know it.”
  31. “There is something about a wedding-gown prettier than any other gown in the world.”
  32. “Whenever my patient begins to count the carriages in her funeral procession, I subtract 50 percent from the curative power of medicines.”
  33. “Eat, drink, and love; what can the rest avail us?”
  34. “A burglar who respects his art always takes his time before taking anything else.”
  35. “There is a certain class of race problem-solvers who don’t want the patient to get well, because as long as the disease holds out they have not only an easy means of making a living, but also an easy medium through which to make themselves prominent before the public.”
  36. “Bohemia has no banner. It survives by discretion.”
  37. “It is so much easier not to believe in an invisible man.”
  38. “If man knew how women pass the time when they are alone, they’d never marry.”
  39. “Memories are always the best return from that investment.”
  40. “We may achieve climate, but weather is thrust upon us.”
  41. “The voice of Love seemed to call to me, but it was a wrong number.”
  42. “When one is truly in love, one not only says it, but shows it.”
  43. “Fortune is a prize to be won. Adventure is the road to it. Chance is what may lurk in the shadows at the roadside.”
  44. “Many of us spend half our time wishing for things we could have if we didn’t spend half our time wishing.”
  45. “It’s not the work that kills men; it’s worry. Work is healthy; you can hardly put more upon a man than he can bear. It’s worry that rots the heart and breaks the spirit.”
  46. “Your justification for a pessimistic opinion about humanity will be rejected unless you can pull out a cigar case and show a photograph of the man who did you out of a thousand.”
  47. “It’s the little things in life that tell us what’s going to happen in the big picture.”
  48. “If you want to read a perfect book there is only one way: write it.”
  49. “A dream is what makes people love life even when it is painful.”
  50. “After twenty years of dreaming for another, a man will wake up to find that he’s been dreaming of himself.”


O. Henry’s quotes reveal an extraordinary man who looked at life through a unique lens. His words reflect an understanding of the human condition in all its complexity, humor, and unpredictability. His belief in human potential, despite adversity, shines through.

The quotes are filled with wisdom and truth, showing us the importance of appreciating the small things, acknowledging the role of fate, and remaining resilient and true to oneself. These lessons from O. Henry are as relevant today as they were in his time, and continue to inspire us to embrace life with all its unpredictability, beauty, and challenge. In essence, O. Henry teaches us to see the extraordinary in the ordinary, to recognize that in every person and every situation, there is a story worth telling.