This book was written while by a man on the lam, literally, in Honduras. O. Henry (whose real name was William Sydney Porter) was awaiting trial over bank embezzlement changes, and his father in law posted bail to keep him out of jail -- but the day before Porter was due to stand trial he fled, first to ...
New Orleans and later to Honduras. While holed up in a Trujillo, Honduras, hotel for several months, he wrote Cabbages and Kings.
This is the book where Henry coined the term "banana republic" to describe the country; the term went on to be used to describe almost any small, unstable tropical nation in Latin America. And then his wife's long-term illness took a turn for the worse: she was dying of tuberculosis. Porter packed his bags and went back to face trial in Houston.
This volume is the only work of O. Henry's which approaches being a novel. The stories are related and should be read in the sequence in which they occur in the book