Dorothy Parker Additional Biography


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Though her reputation declined sharply after the 1920’s and 1930’s, Dorothy Parker has been rediscovered by biographers, feminist writers, and literary critics who more fully appreciate the social and political sides of her works. Her experiments in fictional form and voice especially have garnered her renewed critical interest. One could argue that of all the Algonquin Table members, Parker’s literary reputation is now among the highest. In any case, general readers continue to enjoy her writings.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Educated at Miss Dana’s School in Morristown, New Jersey, Dorothy Rothschild Parker wrote fashion blurbs and drama criticism for Vanity Fair, short stories for The New Yorker irregularly, Hollywood screenplays at intervals (1934-1954), and Esquire book reviews (1959-1962). Her marriage to Edwin Pond Parker (1917-1928) was succeeded by two marriages to bisexual actor-writer Alan Campbell (1934-1947; 1950-1963, when Campbell died). Campbell, Lillian Hellman, and others nurtured Parker, but they could not control her drinking and her worsening writer’s block that kept her from finishing many of her literary attempts during her last fifteen years.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Dorothy Parker, born Dorothy Rothschild, was the daughter of a prosperous Jewish clothier, Henry Rothschild (no relation to the banking family), and the Protestant Eliza Marston, who died shortly after childbirth. Her childhood loneliness was exacerbated by her mixed religious ancestry and the fact that her hated stepmother sent her for some years to the Blessed Sacrament Convent school in West End, New Jersey. She later said she wanted to write her autobiography if only for the sake of calling it Mongrel, an epitomization of her self-image as “a mongrel that wanted to be a thoroughbred.”

After a year (1911) at the fashionable Miss Dana’s School in Morristown, New Jersey, Parker gradually developed as a...

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(Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

ph_0111207205-Parker.jpg Dorothy Parker. Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Beginning her career as a caption writer for Vogue, and later a literature and drama critic for Vanity Fair, Dorothy Parker developed a style of writing that was always witty, sometimes pointed, and often sardonic. While at Vanity Fair, Parker became friends with Robert Sherwood, the dramatic editor, and Robert Benchley, the managing editor. The three regularly took lunch at the Algonquin Hotel, where they were joined by Franklin Pierce Adams, a humor columnist for the New York Tribune, and Harold Ross, the founder of The New Yorker. This group was to form the center of a large lunch group of journalists, playwrights, and actors known as the Algonquin Round Table.

Parker married Edwin Parker II, a stockbroker, in 1917. The marriage was tumultuous and the pair separated in 1919. That same year, Parker was fired by Vanity Fair for what its owners considered overly harsh theatrical reviews. She decided to try to support herself as an independent writer, supplementing sales of her poetry and fiction with book reviews for The New Yorker. At age thirty-three, she published Enough Rope, a book of poetry. The work, which became a best-seller, was followed by three others—Sunset Gun, Death and Taxes, and Not So Deep as a Well. Her short story “Big Blonde” earned the 1929 O. Henry Award and established Parker as an important literary figure. Her short story collections Laments for the Living and After Such Pleasures drew wide acclaim.

Divorced from her second husband in 1928, Parker married actor Alan Campbell in 1933 and the two moved to Hollywood to work as scriptwriters. There, Parker became involved in left-wing politics. She was outspoken against Fascism in Nazi Germany, supported the republican movement in Spain, and expressed sympathies for the Communist Party. In the McCarthy era Parker found herself on the film industry blacklist; thereafter, she was unable to find work in Hollywood. After Campbell’s death in 1963, Parker returned to New York City, where she lived in isolation until her death in 1967. Parker’s writing drew its power from her deft observations of the contrasts between external appearances and internal realities. Her use of inner and outer voices explored subtle layers of psychology, and her economic style elicited a distilled dramatic impact.


(Masterpieces of Women's Literature, Critical Edition)

Author Profile

Irreverent and shrewd, Dorothy Parker punctured the pretensions of books and films in her reviews and spoke out for social causes, including civil rights and labor organizing. She is remembered for her acerbic wit, for such ironic short stories as “Big Blonde” (1929), and for the self-mocking humor of her poetry. Feminists have admired Parker’s staunch independence, which she maintained even after it jeopardized her screenwriting career in Hollywood.


Calhoun, Randall. Dorothy Parker: A Bio- bibliography. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1993. A helpful guide for the student of Parker. Includes bibliographical references and an index....

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(Critical Guide to Censorship and Literature)

Author Profile

Dorothy Parker was the youngest child of J. Henry Rothschild, a prosperous Jewish clothing manufacturer, and Eliza A. Marston, a Scottish Presbyterian, who died while she was an infant. She was educated at the Blessed Sacrament Convent School, New York City. After her father’s death in 1914 she tried freelance writing. In June, 1917, she married Edwin Pond Parker II, a young stock broker who soon volunteered as an ambulance driver in World War I. They were divorced in 1928, but Parker called herself Mrs. Dorothy Parker for the rest of her life.

Parker’s witty and satiric remarks about people and events appeared frequently in New York City newspapers, making her famous for her...

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(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Dorothy Parker, called the wittiest woman in America during her heyday in the 1920’s, was born Dorothy Rothschild in West End, New Jersey, in 1893. Her Scottish Presbyterian mother died when she was still an infant; her Jewish father was a strict disciplinarian who showed her little affection. After being gently asked to leave a Catholic convent school for her somewhat heretical wit, she attended Miss Dana’s School for Young Ladies in Morristown, New Jersey, where she was matriculated in 1911. After one year there, however, she left, and for the next few years, she lived in a Manhattan boardinghouse, supporting herself as best she could and writing poetry, which was regularly rejected.

Parker’s life began to...

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(Short Stories for Students)

Parker was born Dorothy Rothschild on August 22, 1893, in West End, New Jersey, to a Jewish garment manufacturer and his Baptist wife. Though...

(The entire section is 491 words.)


(Poetry for Students)

Dorothy Rothschild Parker was born in 1893 in West End, New Jersey, to Eliza Marston Roths- child, a Scottish Protestant who died shortly...

(The entire section is 409 words.)


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Dorothy Rothschild was born to J. Henry Rothschild, a rich, well-known Jewish clothing merchant, and Eliza A. Rothschild, a schoolteacher of Scottish descent who died a few years after Dorothy’s birth. Dorothy’s unhappy, lonely childhood was further saddened by the death of her stepmother a couple of years later and eventually the deaths of her brother in 1912 and her father in 1913. She was expelled from Blessed Sacrament Convent School after insisting that the Immaculate Conception was “spontaneous combustion,” and was then sent to Miss Dana’s finishing school in New Jersey. There she studied and imitated Latin writers such as Horace and Martial, whose epigrams influenced her early poems and witticisms.


(The entire section is 980 words.)