Rolling Stone

By: Patrick L. Cox

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: June 1, 1995

The newspaper Rolling Stone was the first publication of William Sydney Porter, better known as O. Henry. The weekly newspaper was published in 1894–95 and reached a circulation of several thousand subscribers. Porter purchased the press of the Iconoclast from William Cowper Brann, and the first two issues by Porter used the name Iconoclast. At that time Brann decided to publish in Waco, and Porter changed the name to Rolling Stone. The first issue was published on Saturday, April 28, 1894, as Volume 1, Number 3. Subscription rates for the Rolling Stone were $1.50 per year, and the paper printed from eight to twelve pages weekly.

In the first issue Porter left no doubt that the paper was intended more for entertainment than news. He lampooned local politicians, social customs, business practices, the performing arts, and other local and state establishments. Throughout the life of the paper, fictionalized accounts of news appeared. Once Porter "reprinted" a page from the imaginary paper "Plunkville Patriot," complete with intentionally written typographical errors and confused syntax. He wrote most of the articles and took the rest from syndicates. Some of his own short stories were first published in the Rolling Stone. Porter raised money from friends and worked with a partner, James P. Crane. He may have kept the Rolling Stone alive with money embezzled from the First National Bank, where he worked as a teller. After being charged with the crime, he resigned and, without an income, was unable to continue publishing. The final issue of the Rolling Stone appeared on April 27, 1895.

Mary Sunlocks Harrell, O. Henry's Texas Contacts (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1935). O. Henry, Rolling Stones (New York: Doubleday, Page, 1913). Gerald Langford, Alias O. Henry: A Biography of William Sydney Porter (New York: Macmillan, 1957). Richard O'Connor, O. Henry: The Legendary Life of William S. Porter (Garden City: Doubleday, 1970). Fanny Elizabeth Ratchford, The Rolling Stone: The Life History of an O. Henry Rarity (New York: Colophon, 1934). Marilyn M. Sibley, "Austin's First National and the Errant Teller," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 74 (April 1971).
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Patrick L. Cox, “Rolling Stone,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 23, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 1, 1995