Cover image for Dorothy Parker, in her own words
Dorothy Parker, in her own words
Parker, Dorothy, 1893-1967.
Personal Author:
First Taylor Trade Pub. edition.
Publication Information:
Lanham, Md. : Taylor Trade Pub., [2004]

Physical Description:
xv, 203 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Personal Subject:
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3531.A5855 Z47 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PS3531.A5855 Z47 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Despite her prolific output, ageless writer and wit Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) never penned an autobiography (although if she had, she said that it would have been titled Mongrel). Combing through her stories, poems, articles, reviews, correspondence, and even her rare journalism and song lyrics, editor Barry Day has selected and arranged passages that describe her life and its preoccupations-urban living, the theater and cinema, the battle of the sexes, and death by dissipation. Best known for her scathing pieces for the New Yorker and her membership in the Algonquin Round Table ("The greatest collection of unsaleable wit in America."), Parker filled her work with a unique mix of fearlessness, melancholy, savvy, and hope. In Dorothy Parker, the irrepressible writer addresses: her early career writing for magazines; her championing of social causes such as integration; and the obsession with suicide that became another drama ("Scratch an actor...and you'll find an actress."), literature ("This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.") and much more.

Author Notes

Poet and short story writer Dorothy Parker was born in New Jersey on August 22, 1893. When she was 5, her mother died and her father, a clothes salesman, remarried. Parker had a great antipathy toward her stepmother and refused to speak to her. She attended parochial school and Miss Dana's school in Morristown, New Jersey, for a brief time before dropping out at age 14. A voracious reader, she decided to pursue a career in literature. She began her career by writing verse as well as captions for a fashion magazine.

During the years of her greatest fame, Dorothy Parker was known primarily as a writer of light verse, an essential member of the Algonquin Round Table, and a caustic and witty critic of literature and society. She is remembered now as an almost legendary figure of the 1920s and 1930s. Her reviews and staff contributions to three of the most sophisticated magazines of this century, Vanity Fair, the New Yorker, and Esquire, were notable for their put-downs. For all her highbrow wit, however, Dorothy Parker was liberal, even radical, in her political views, and the hard veneer of brittle toughness that she showed to the world was often a shield for frustrated idealism and soft sensibilities. The best of her fiction is marked by a balance of ironic detachment and sympathetic compassion, as in "Big Blonde," which won the O. Henry Award for 1929 and is still her best-remembered and most frequently anthologized story.

The best of Dorothy Parker is readily and compactly accessible in The Portable Dorothy Parker. Her own selection of stories and verse for the original edition of that compilation, published in 1944, remains intact in the revised edition, but included also are additional stories, reviews, and articles.

Parker died of a heart attack at the age of 73 in 1967. In her will, she bequeathed her estate to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. foundation. Following King's death, her estate was passed on to the NAACP. (Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

In this latest addition to a series of literary autobiographies of sorts (most recently, Sherlock Holmes: In His Own Words and Wodehouse: In His Own Words), Day takes on Dorothy Parker (1893-1967), a writer who, as he notes, had the reputation of being the greatest wit since Oscar Wilde. The author of short stories, verse, criticism, and drama but never an autobiography, she is described as one of the defining literary figures of the first half of the last century and perhaps the most influential writer on being a woman at that time of change. Using quotations from her writings in a variety of genres, Day explores aspects like her career as a writer for film and magazines, membership in the famed roundtable of wits who met at New York City's Algonquin Hotel, relationships with men, love of dogs, flirtation with communism and investigation by the House Un-American Activities Committee, and preoccupation with death. Like Day's earlier series entries, this informative and entertaining volume lacks formal documentation, but it will nicely complement Marion Meade's more substanial Dorothy Parker: What Fresh Hell Is This? Recommended for public libraries. Denise J. Stankovics, Rockville P.L., Vernon, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. xi
1. "A Little Jewish Girl Trying to Be Cutep. 1
2. "Brevity Is the Soul of Lingerie"p. 9
3. Inconstant Reviewerp. 19
4. Queen Dorothy and the Round Tablep. 29
5. Hi-Ho-Hum Societyp. 41
6. The New Yorker and Its "Constant Reader"p. 53
7. The Sexesp. 71
8. Dogs: A Digressionp. 93
9. Writer at Workp. 101
10. "Hooray for Hollywood!"p. 115
11. "You Might as Well Live": Drink, Suicide, and Other Forms of Death and Destructionp. 131
12. Songs and Plays: An Intermissionp. 141
13. "Rose-Colored Bifocals": Parker and Politicsp. 161
14. "Did Ernest Really Like Me?"p. 171
15. Coda: The Lady of the Corridorp. 183
16. Envoi: "As Dorothy Parker Once Said..."p. 189
Indexp. 195
About the Authorp. 203