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Porter, Henry

Sound clips from the song.
Date: Thu, 23 Mar 1995 18:20:17 -0500
From: 00jwerickson@BSUVC.BSU.EDU
Subject: Brownsville Girl Question

Forgive me if this question has been asked in the past but it's really bothering me that I don't know the answer. The question is...

In the song Brownsville Girl, who is Henry Porter? Is he a historical figure, someone that Dylan made up, or otherwise? I first heard the song about four years ago, and still don't know who he is. Please post if you know the answer. Thanks.

Joel Erickson
Ball State University

Date: Fri, 24 Mar 1995 16:00:21 GMT
From: nate (nates@LL.MIT.EDU)
Subject: Re: Brownsville Girl Question

henry porter is the actual name that O. Henry is the penname for. O. Henry wrote a lot of well regarded short stories, including "The Gift of the Magi".

so O. Henry's real name is Henry Porter.

- nate
( but a closed mouth gathers no foot )

Date: Sat, 25 Mar 1995 17:06:23 -0500
From: jr (jroberts@SPIDER.LLOYD.COM)
Subject: Re: Brownsville Girl Question

where did you get your information. I thought his name was William Porter. I look it up in a book about O. Henry and it confermed my thoughts. Does anyone else have any ideas about Henry Porter. Was he real or a product of Dylan's great mind
John Roberts

Date: Sat, 25 Mar 1995 22:27:07 GMT
From: William Routhier (Routhier@WORLD.STD.COM)
Subject: Re: Brownsville Girl Question

No. Not true. O Henry's real name was William Sidney Porter.
Henry Porter is, likely, a made up name. And the only thing they really
knew about Henry Porter was that his name really wasn't Henry Porter.

Bill Routhier (check your facts, jack!)

why should i? it worked twice.

- nate

Date: Mon, 27 Mar 1995 16:51:53 GMT
Subject: Hey Porter(s)

William Sidney Porter = O. Henry
Edwin S. Porter = Director of "The Great Train Robbery"
Henry Porter = Henry Porter

Those are the only things we know for sure.

Catherine Yronwoode said (October 4, 1996):
Now, this black/white ambiiguity is made even clearer if one recalls that there was some discussion in rmd about "Henry Porter" and the recently deceased author Anatole [?] Brossard who was a black man who passed as white beginning in the 1940s and who wrote a famous short story which, as i recall, was about a black man named Henry Porter who was passing as white man.
Date: Fri, 22 Nov 1996 00:53:55 -0800
Subject: Henry Porter

A character who used the name Henry Porter appeared in an episode of Rawhide I saw a few months ago in a motel room in North Platte, Nebraska. I only caught the last half of the show, but apparently he is an escaped convict who assumes another man's identity and befriends a girl. He ends up lying to Clint Eastwood and his friends when they find him, and he trips up in his story. Eventually the girl gives the whole story away and they confront "Henry Porter" and prove that his name is not Henry Porter. And yes, that ended up being the only thing they knew for sure about the guy. I hope someone has seen this episode (it was the only one I've ever watched as we don't get cable here) and can fill in the missing pieces. I believe that given the other references in Brownsville Girl, this is as close as anything to the source for this character's name. I have always believed, though, that this fellow symbolizes Dylan in the song, as most of the song is about Bob, and one could say that the only thing we know for sure about Bob Dylan is that his real name isn't Bob Dylan.

Fra: Ed Ricardo (
Dato: 30. november 1998 16:50
Emne: Rawhide vs Gunsmoke as most important influence on our cowboy...

Henry Porter

While the influence of Gunsmoke and Matt himself on our hero is
often commented upon how many references to Rawhide are readers seeing? 

And would our boy have done so well if he was called Bob Favor?
Gil Zimmerman? And in any case the name could have come from 
Nando in the film Forced Landing?  Did that Bobby Dillon only
make one film?  (An American pilot helps a young woman locate 
her father who is being held captive by Nazis somewhere in the 

Henry Porter is of course in a Rawhide episode, but are there
other references to other characters, events and places in
television western serials watched in Hibbing every week? 

Given the Shepard connection of course we might be talking 
playwrights and then everyone thinks of Henry Porter's Two 
Angry Women of Abingdon... 

wikipedia entry on Henry Porter (from Ron)

'I'm ready' (Guardian 20.09.2006)

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