Dorothy Parker

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Dorothy Parker (August 22, 1893 – June 7, 1967) was an American poet and satirist, best known for her wit, wisecracks, and eye for 20th century urban foibles.

From a conflicted and unhappy childhood, Parker rose to acclaim, both for her literary output in such venues as The New Yorker and as a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table. Following the breakup of the circle, Parker traveled to Hollywood to pursue screenwriting. Her successes there, including two Academy Award nominations, were curtailed as her involvement in left-wing politics led to a place on the infamous Hollywood blacklist.

Parker went through three marriages (two to the same man) and survived several suicide attempts, but grew increasingly dependent on alcohol. Dismissive of her own talents, she deplored her reputation as a "wisecracker". Nevertheless, her literary output and reputation for her sharp wit have endured.


Early life

Also known as Dot or Dottie, Parker was born Dorothy Rothschild to Jacob Henry[1] and Eliza Annie Rothschild (née Marston)[2] at 732 Ocean Avenue in the West End village of Long Branch, New Jersey,[3] where her parents had a summer beach cottage. Dorothy's mother was of Scottish descent, and her father was of German-Jewish descent (unrelated, however, to the Rothschild banking dynasty). Parker wrote in her essay "My Hometown" that her parents got her back to their Manhattan apartment shortly after Labor Day so she could be called a true New Yorker. Her mother died in West End in July 1898, when Parker was a month shy of turning five.[4] Her father was remarried in 1900, to a woman named Eleanor Francis Lewis.[5] Parker detested her father and stepmother, accusing her father of being physically abusive and refusing to call Eleanor either "mother" or "stepmother," instead referring to her as "the housekeeper."[6] She grew up on the Upper West Side, and attended Roman Catholic elementary school at the Convent of the Blessed Sacrament, despite having a Jewish father and Protestant stepmother.[7] She was asked to leave following her characterization of Christ's conception as "spontaneous combustion".[8] Her stepmother died in 1903, when Parker was nine.[9] Parker later went to Miss Dana's School, a finishing school in Morristown, New Jersey.[10] Her formal education ended when she was 13. Her father died in 1913. Following his death, she played piano at a dancing school to earn a living[11] while she worked on her verse.

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