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Dorothy Parker Biography | Poet

Photo of Dorothy Parker

Sarcastic, raw and deep describe many of Dorothy Parker's satirical poems, short stories, articles and journalism pieces. Dorothy was born in New Jersey on August 22, 1893 to J. Henry and Elizabeth Rothschild. She grew up on Manhattan's West Side and attended a Catholic grade school and then a finishing school. At 14, her education halted, and by 1913, when she was just 20 she had lost her mother, step-mother, uncle and father. She had many sad times and found comfort in writing with a brutal honesty that still surrounds her memory.

“If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of "The Elements of Style." The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.”---Dorothy Parker

Professional Career

In 1914 she sold her first poem to Vanity Fair, and then in 1916 at 22 she took a job as Editor for Vogue and continued to write for magazines and journals including The New Yorker. She was a member of the Algonquin Round Table group and became known for her "biting wit" and intense poetry. The group itself was an informal gathering of somewhat well known writers that resided in New York City. It was definitely an interesting group of amazing, yet dark writers.

In 1917, she began working at Vanity Fair as an editor. In 1922, she published her first short story, "A Pretty Little Picture," and in 1925, she was on the Editorial Staff for the New Yorker. She continued contributing poems and critiques for many years to the publication. Parker’s first poetry collection, Enough Rope, was published in 1926. It was a bestseller. The next two collections, Sunset Gun in 1928 and Death and Taxes in 1931 were also very popular. In 1930 a collection of fiction was published, Laments for the Living. In 1937, she wrote "A Star is Born", won an Academy Award for it and then in 1942 she wrote Hitchcock's, "Sabateur."

She was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1959 and was a visiting professor at California State College in Los Angeles in 1963.

She had a great sense of dark humor that combined her depressive temperament and her brilliant intelligence. She suffered tremendously from depression, addiction and even a suicide attempt. Often, artists and writers are pained by their emotions but this may also be the well where they go for inspiration, so it is tragic to know that Parker and so many other artists experienced so much turmoil and chaos.

Relationships Were Sstrained

Dorothy married a stock broker named Edwin Parker in 1917 and later they divorced in 1928 after a difficult marriage. She befriended many other writers of her time including Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. She was seem as a socialite of sorts and traveled often to Europe. In 1934 she married Alan Campbell and they moved to California. They spent time together writing for MGM and Paramount. Their relationship took a toll on them and they divorced in 1947 and remarried in 1950. During their relationship they were a well-known and well-paid team. There were many ups and downs for the two and Alan had a moody disposition. In 1963, he died from an overdose.


Dorothy was a self-declared socialist and member of the Communist party. She was blacklisted because of her association with it, but she continued to write and be a political woman throughout this rough time for writers and actors in history. During the proceedings for the Un-American Activities in 1955 she plead the Fifth. She was also a staunch civil rights believer and upon her own death from a heart attack on June 6, 1967, her estate was donated to Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.which was later bequeathed to the NAACP.


Dorothy was a true leader for women, writers, thinkers and activists. She definitely walked the walk. She courageously survived many losses in her life, lived on both American coasts, traveled extensively and had a robust personal and professional life. Her prolific collection of her work is innovative and creative and continues to show incredible genius and imagination to writers today. Although for Parker life was a constant transition of ups and downs, she had the consistency of her talent and voice to pull her through, even the darkest of times.

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” 

Dorothy Parker: Poems | Best Poems | Short Poems | Quotes