Dorothy Parker, young Dorothy Parker
Bain News Service/LOC

Dorothy Parker, Literary Critic and Writer

October 29, 2010
by Kate Brack
Dorothy Parker was known for her biting wit and social commentary in the midst of women’s liberation of the 1920s. Parker’s legacy lives on with an extensive list of timeless quotes and poems.

Brief Biography of Dorothy Parker

Born Dorothy Rothschild on Aug. 22, 1893, and raised on the Upper West Side of New York, Parker lost her mother at age 4 and had a troubled childhood throughout. As an adult, Parker got her start as a writer by selling poems to Vogue Magazine in 1916. She would later go on to write for Vanity Fair and work as a literary critic for the New Yorker.

Alongside writer Robert Benchley and playwright Robert Sherwood, Parker formed the Algonquin Roundtable, which would later be infamously known as the Vicious Circle due in part to Dorothy’s no holds barred commentary.

Throughout her career Parker released a number of best-selling books of poems and verse. In 1929 she was awarded the O. Henry Award for her short story titled “Big Blonde.”

Resources for Studying Dorothy Parker

The Academy of American Poets offers a succinct overview of Parker’s life.

University of Cincinnati English professor Rhonda Pettit provides a biography and critical overview of Parker, and has compiled numerous essays and excerpts written by other literary experts.

PBS describes the Algonquin Round Table, which was the subject of an American Masters documentary.

The University of Toronto Libraries provides 14 of Parker’s poems.

Letters of Note presents a note written by Parker in the early 1960s when she was teaching at Cal Tech. Her acerbic wit is visible as she describes her students as “a grievous lot, hopeless, unattractive, and not even young.”

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