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Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker (born Dorothy Rothschild) (August 22, 1893-1967), was born in West End, New Jersey. Having sold some poems to Vogue magazine in 1916 she worked there for a short while captioning fashion photographs, before beginning her career writing theatre criticism for Vanity Fair[?] (initially as a stand-in for the vacationing Robert Benchley[?]), during which time she met and married Edwin Pond Parker II, whom she later divorced. When Harold Ross founded The New Yorker she and Benchley joined its staff. Mrs. Parker contributed many of her greatest short stories to the magazine, before pursuing a career as an independent writer of poems and short stories and making a name for herself as an acerbic wit. She married a young writer named Alan Campbell with whom she had a rocky relationship, untroubled by fidelity, but they lived together on-and-off until his death in 1963.

Mrs. Parker was a member of the noted Algonquin Round Table[?] in New York. She published three volumes of poetry (Enough Rope, Sunset Gun, and Death and Taxes), and numerous short stories (her most noted was entitled "Big Blonde"). After she left the staff of the New Yorker she continued to work as a reviewer, as well as a playwright and screenwriter, often involved in "polishing" other peoples scripts. Politically liberal, she was investigated by the FBI for her suspected involvement in Communism during the McCarthy era and bequeathed the copyright to her work to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Mrs. Parker became famous for her short, viciously humorous poems, many about the perceived ludicrousness of her many (largely unsuccessful) romantic affairs and many others wistfully considering the appeal of suicide. She never considered these poems as her most important works. She is also famous for her eminently quotable wisecracks, which were repeated by her literary friends and also appeared liberally throughout her works.

Dorothy Parker reading her own poem, Men


Men seldom make passes
At girls who wear glasses.
Entire text of her poem "News Item"

  • "Brevity is the soul of lingerie."
  • "This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force."
  • "She delivered a striking performance that ran the gamut of emotions, from A to B." (review of an actress on Broadway.)
  • "Excuse me, I need to go to the lady's room. Actually, I need to make a telephone call, but I was too embarrassed to say."

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