parker.gif Dorothy Parker (1893-1967)

		Razors pain you; Rivers are damp; 
		Acids stain you; And drugs cause cramp.
		Guns aren't lawful; Nooses give; 
		Gas smells awful; You might as well live. 


An American critic, satirical poet, and short-story writer, Dorothy Rothschild Parker, b. West End, N.J., Aug. 22, 1893, d. June 7, 1967, is remembered as much for her flashing verbal exchanges and malicious wit as for the disenchanted stories and sketches in which she revealed her underlying pessimism. Starting her career as Vanity Fair's drama critic (1917-20) and continuing as the New Yorker's theater and book reviewer (1927-33), Parker enhanced her legend in the 1920s and early 1930s through membership in the Algonquin Hotel's celebrated Round Table.

Parker published her first light verse in Enough Rope (1927) and Death and Taxes (1931), volumes marked by an elegant economy of expression, sophisticated cynicism, and irony. These were followed by the short-story collections Laments for the Living (1930) and After Such Pleasures (1933), containing her single most famous story, "Big Blonde." Parker scripted films in Hollywood from 1933 to 1938 and in 1937 covered the Spanish Civil War for the New Masses. In collaboration with others she also wrote two Broadway plays: Close Harmony (1924), with Elmer Rice, and Ladies of the Corridor (1953), with Arnaud d'Usseau.

Bibliography: Frewin, Leslie, The Late Mrs. Dorothy Parker (1987); Keats, John, You Might As Well Live: The Life and Times of Dorothy Parker (1970; repr. 1986); Kinney, Arthur F., Dorothy Parker (1978); Meade, Marion, Dorothy Parker (1988); Parker, Dorothy, The Portable Dorothy Parker, rev. ed., (1976).

Text Copyright © 1993 Grolier Incorporated

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