The Last Leaf

"The Last Leaf" is a short story by O. Henry published in 1907 in his collection The Trimmed Lamp and Other Story. The story is set in Greenwich Village during a pneumonia epidemic. It tells the story of an old artist who saves the life of a young neighboring artist, dying of pneumonia, by giving her the will to live. Through her window she can see an old tree (growing against a nearby wall), gradually shedding its leaves as autumn turns into winter, and she has taken the thought into her head that she will die when the last leaf falls. The leaves fall day by day, but the last lone leaf stays on for several days. The ill woman's health quickly recovers. At story's end, we learn that the old artist, who always wanted to produce a masterpiece painting but had never had any success, had one night spent considerable time painting with great realism a leaf on the wall. Furthermore, the old artist himself dies of pneumonia contracted while being out in the wet and cold.

"The Last Leaf"
AuthorO. Henry
CountryUnited States
Genre(s)Short story
Published inThe Trimmed Lamp and Other Stories
Publication date1907


"The Last Leaf" has been adapted frequently on the stage and the big screen.[1] Notable short film adaptations include

  • The 1912 film Falling Leaves is a very loose adaptation.
  • The 1917 two-reel silent film The Last Leaf, one of a series of O. Henry works produced by Broadway Star Features.[2]
  • In 1952 it was one of five stories adapted for O. Henry's Full House. In this adaptation, the protagonist's nickname is Jo, and Susan (Sue) is portrayed as a sister, not a friend.[3]
  • In 1983 a second screen adaptation was done as a 24-minute film produced by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.[4] This adaptation is the same as the 1952 film version from O. Henry's Full House.
  • Paranoia Agent's 9th 'Etc' episode contains a segment depicting it within the context of the series.
  • The 2013 Hindi film Lootera is loosely based on "The Last Leaf".[5]


  1. Hischak, Thomas S. (2012). American Literature on Stage and Screen: 525 Works and Their Adaptations. McFarland. pp. 113–114. ISBN 978-0-7864-9279-4.
  2. "The Last Leaf". Stories of the Films. Moving Picture World. 34 (11): 1675. December 15, 1917. Retrieved 2015-10-01 via Internet Archive.
  3. "O. Henry's Full House". Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved 2015-10-01.
  4. "Easter TV Special To Affirm LDS Belief in Resurrected Christ". News of the Church. Ensign. April 1984. Retrieved 2015-10-01.
  5. "5 films that take their cue from short stories". CNN-IBN. July 9, 2013.
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