Little Bits of History

“Excuse My Dust”

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 22, 2010

Dorothy Parker

August 22, 1893: Dorothy Rothschild Parker is born in the West End district of Long Branch, New Jersey. Dot or Dottie grew up in Manhattan and became a poet, writer, critic and above all a wisecracking wit.

Her mother died before Dottie turned five. She attend a Catholic grade school despite the fact that her father was Jewish and her stepmother was Protestant. She lost her stepmother when she was nine. Dottie went on to finishing school but her formal education ended when she was thirteen. Her uncle died on the Titanic and her father died a year later in 1913. Dottie jokingly said she married to get away from her Jewish name, divorcing Mr. Parker after a brief marriage.

Dorothy sold her first poem to Vanity Fair in 1914 and a few months later was hired as an editorial assistant for Vogue. She became a drama critic and staff writer for Vanity Fair in 1918. She began lunching with other literary wits at the Algonquin Hotel in NYC which has round tables in the corners. She and her caustically witty, cerebrally funny friends became the Algonquin Round Table’s leading members.

In the following years, she published several volumes of short stories and poetry. The morbid names of the works are themselves a succinct autobiography. Her stories were concise and bittersweet. She attempted suicide at least three times during her long life. She was a fierce civil libertarian and left her estate to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Foundation. She died in 1967 and was cremated. Her ashes remained unclaimed for seventeen years before they were interred.

“That would be a good thing for them to carve on my tombstone: Wherever she went, including here, it was against her better judgment”

“Look at him, a rhinestone in the rough.”

“It’s a small apartment, I’ve barely enough room to lay my hat and a few friends.”

If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised.

“I’m never going to be famous. My name will never be writ large on the roster of Those Who Do Things. I don’t do any thing. Not one single thing. I used to bite my nails, but I don’t even do that any more.” – all from Dorothy Parker

Also on this day, in 1920 Ray Bradbury is born.
Bonus Link: In 1851, the first America’s Cup
race is run.

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  1. […] on this day, in 1920 Ray Bradbury is born. Bonus Link: In 1893, Dorothy Parker is born. Leave a […]


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