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Dorothy Parker Quotes

Updated on September 17, 2014

Dorothy Parker, Witty Writer

Dorothy Parker was a witty writer, and it shows in these Dorothy Parker quotes. Dorothy Parker was born Dorothy Rothschild on August 22, 1893 in New Jersey, but grew up on the Upper West side in New York.

Dorothy Parker wrote poems, short stories, screenplays, and reviews or critiques of movies, books, and just about thing she felt like. Her writing of more than a few witty lines are repeated fondly every day. A few instances of her sharp wit showed up when she was still young:

- Her mother died when Dorothy was almost 5 and her father remarried a few years later. Dorothy called her stepmother "the housekeeper."

- Dorothy was asked to leave her Catholic school when she described Christ's conception as "spontaneous combustion."

Dorothy only went to school till age 14, when she left to take care of her father who was ill. She worked playing piano at a dance school. She wrote throughout her life and was active in left-wing causes such as the Spanish Civil War and organizing screenwriters.

Upon her death, she bequeathed her literary estate to Dr. Martin Luther King. Dorothy Parker died in 1967 at age 73 in New York City.

Information Source: Jewish Virtual Library

Photo of Dorothy Parker in her twenties. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Dorothy Parker Quote

"Men seldom make passes

At girls who wear glasses."

~ Dorothy Parker, Not So Deep as a Well

(1937), "News Item"

Dorothy Parker's Writing Career

Versatile Writer

Dorothy Parker worked as a writer her entire life. She sold her first poem to Vanity Fair in 1914 at age 21. She worked for or sold her writing (poems, short stories, and reviews) to the following major magazines:

- Vogue

- Vanity Fair

- The New Yorker

- Life

- McCall's

- The New Republic

In 1926, she published her first book of poetry, Enough Rope. Additional works include Laments for the Living, 1930; Death and Taxes, published in 1931; After Such Pleasures, 1933; Not So Deep as a Well; 1936; and Here Lies, 1939. Compilations of her work include The Portable Dorothy Parker, which was published in 1976.

Dorothy Parker Quote

When Dorothy Parker was challenged to use the word 'horticulture' in a sentence, she said:

"You can drag a horticulture,

but you can't make her think."

Books by Dorothy Parker - Dorothy Parker's Books of Poems and Short Stories

Dorothy Parker Quote

"If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid

end to end, I wouldn't be a bit surprised."

~ Dorothy Parker

Is Dorothy Parker Your Cup of Tea? - She has a way with words. Do you like it?

Do you like Dorothy Parker's razor sharp tongue and wit?

See results

Dorothy Parker Quote

"By the time you swear you are his,

shivering and sighing,

And he vows his passion

is infinite and undying-

Lady, make a note of this:

One of you is lying."

~ Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker's Love Life

She Married Three Times But Twice to the Same Man

In 1917, 24-year-old Dorothy Rothschild married Edwin Parker, who was a Wall Street stockbroker. She joked that she married to escape her Jewish name. He served in World War I, which separated the couple, which probably didn't help their relationship. They separated some more and were divorced in 1928.

She had affairs with Charles MacArthur, Robert Benchley, Seward Collins, and Alexander Woollcott. In 1934, Dorothy Parker married Alan Campbell then they divorced in 1947. He had an affair during World War II while in Europe and her drinking caused problems. They remarried in 1950 and remained married, though separated for a few years in there, until his death in 1963.

Dorothy Parker Quote

Her comment regarding an unwanted pregnancy

and subsequent abortion:

"It serves me right for putting all my eggs

in one bastard."

~ Dorothy Parker

The Algonquin Round Table of which Dorothy Parker was a member.
The Algonquin Round Table of which Dorothy Parker was a member.

The Algonquin Round Table

Writers at the Algonquin Hotel

Dorothy Parker was one of the few female members of the Algonquin Round Table, named for an actual table at the Algonquin Hotel in New York. The Algonquin Round Table was mostly a forum for writers, actors, and critics and their lively discussion.

They called themselves "The Vicious Circle." After the meals and drinks where the wit flew, members wrote of their conversations in newspaper columns.

In 1919, the meetings began, and charter members included the following writers, actors, and other related professionals of the day:

- Franklin Pierce Adams, columnist

- Robert Benchley, humorist and actor

- Heywood Broun, columnist and sportswriter (married to Ruth Hale)

- Marc Connelly, playwright

- Ruth Hale, freelance writer who worked for women's rights

- George S. Kaufman, playwright and director

- Dorothy Parker, critic, poet, short-story writer, and screenwriter

- Harold Ross, The New Yorker editor

- Robert E. Sherwood, author and playwright

- John Peter Toohey, publicist

- Harpo Marx, comedian and actor

- Alexander Woollcott, critic and journalist

Other occasional members included writer Edna Ferber, actor Tallulah Bankhead, and other writers and actors. The Vicious Circle hung in there for 10 years, but dissolved when members had drifted out of New York and on to other interests.

Photo of some of the members of the Algonquin Round Table: Art Samuels, Charlie MacArthur, Harpo Marx, Dorothy Parker and Alexander Woollcott in 1919. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Dorothy Parker Quote

"I'd rather have a bottle in front of me,

than a frontal lobotomy."

~ Dorothy Parker

Movies and Books About The Algonquin Round Table - Another Era, Another Time

Dorothy Parker Quote

Referring to the actress Katharine Hepburn:

"She runs the gamut of emotions from A to B."

~ Dorothy Parker

Book Reviews by Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Park wrote book reviews. Here's part of one:

"This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly.

It should be thrown with great force."

~ Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker and the Movies - Versatile Writer

Dorothy Parker lived in Hollywood for 25 years with her (second and third) husband, Alan Campbell. She wrote for Hollywood. The Dorothy Parker IMDb page details her work as a writer on movies for Paramount Pictures.

Sometimes she developed or collaborated on the story, sometimes she wrote or co-wrote the screenplay, and sometimes movies or shorts were made based on her short stories. She was nominated for an Oscar for the screenplays for the movies The Little Foxes and Smash-Up.

She even wrote the lyrics to Bing Crosby's song I Wished on the Moon.

Some of her movie titles (and that song) follow:

Dorothy Parker Quip

"The first thing I do in the morning

is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue."

~ Dorothy Parker

Suicide and Dorothy Parker

She couldn't get it right.

Dorothy Parker attempted suicide several times but never succeeded in ending her life. Alcohol was a major factor, and she was later quoted as saying about the Algonquin Round Table, "These were no giants. Think who was writing in those days--Lardner, Fitzgerald, Faulkner and Hemingway. Those were the real giants.

The Round Table was just a lot of people telling jokes and telling each other how good they were. Just a bunch of loudmouths showing off, saving their gags for days, waiting for a chance to spring them.... There was no truth in anything they said. It was the terrible day of the wisecrack, so there didn't have to be any truth...."

Source: Hermann, Dorothy. 1982. With Malice Toward All: The Quips, Lives and Loves of Some Celebrated 20th-Century American Wits. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons.

Poem by Dorothy Parker

Resume

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.

~ Dorothy Parker

Books About Dorothy Parker

Here are a few of the many books that have been written about Dorothy Parker.

The Vicious Circle - A Movie About Dorothy Parker's Life

Jennifer Jason Leigh plays Dorothy Parker in this 1994 film. I loved watching this take on Dorothy Parker's life, especially her recitation of the poem Resume to the shock of fellow party goers.

Epitaph of Dorothy Parker

"Pardon my dust."

~Dorothy Parker's epitaph

Inventory

Four be the things

I'd have been better without:

love, curiosity, freckles and doubt.

Four be the things

I am wiser to know:

Idleness, sorrow, a friend, and a foe.

Three be the things

I shall never attain:

Envy, content, and

sufficient champagne.

Three be the things

I shall have till I die:

Laughter and hope and

a sock in the eye.

~ Dorothy Parker

Amazon Affiliate Disclosure

Peggy Hazelwood is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Please leave a message about your thoughts on Dorothy Parker.

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    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 5 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      Yep, love her, love the lens:)

    • Franksterk profile image

      Frankie Kangas 5 years ago from California

      I love her writing. Thanks for reminding me about her and her wit. Bear hugs, Frankster

    • Scarlettohairy profile image
      Author

      Peggy Hazelwood 5 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      @Franksterk: Thanks, Heather and Frankster for dropping by. Dorothy and I appreciate it!

    • profile image

      poutine 5 years ago

      Pretty witty.

      Thanks for introducing her quotes to me.

    • oxfordian profile image

      oxfordian 5 years ago

      I love these! DP is one of my favorite authors and I can't believe how many I had forgotten. They made my day. Thanks!!

    • PearlHowie profile image

      PearlHowie 5 years ago

      Love them!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I've loved Dorothy Parker since I first heard of her. She was such a sharp wit and a sharp tongue to match. My guy and I like to joke that we're Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley! No wonder we're perfect for each other. Great lens on a great woman!

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 5 years ago

      I think Dorothy Parker and I would have been great friends. Blessed lens - very well done, Peggy.

    • Joan Haines profile image

      Joan Haines 5 years ago

      !rekraP yhtoroD teem su gnipleh rof sknahT

    • BLouw profile image

      Barbara Walton 5 years ago from France

      Wonderful - I shall have to buy more Dorothy Parker books!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thanks to your lens I now know that Ms. Parker was a really cool lady.

      "Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses." I always thought Marilyn Monroe said that. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I spent my childhood reading Dorothy Parker books. My childhood wasn't very long so it was the not so known DP, from about 12y old, it was this DP. I like to think I'm also witty, I know I am a smart ass for my quips are just as saucy as hers. I too have tried to CS. Wasn't successful just like her. We don't die until we're supposed to, that's what I tell myself b/c of my belief in God. I'm now writing my first fiction novel. This is the first time I've opened this site and have never done research on her before. Just today I realized how much she effected my life. I was born in 1953.

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