Here she developed “the rapier wit” which brought her fame, but also cost her a job: she was fired from Vanity Fair in 1920 for mocking actress Billie Burke, the wife of one of the magazine’s major advertisers. However, the 1920s remained a productive period for Parker. She reviewed plays for Ainslee’s, and submitted poetry and short stories to a variety of magazines. She became one of the most quotable women in new York and lived the surface glamour of the Roaring Twenties, complete parties, drinking, speakeasies, trips to Europe, and gatherings at the Algonquin Hotel(3). These gatherings, known as the Algonquin Round Table, included such notable writers as Robert Benchley, Robert Sherwood, James Thurber and George S. Kaufman. Parker was the only female founding member(2).
Her life and her writing became more political in the 1930s. While she continued to publish poetry and short stories, she moved to Hollywood and began screen writing. She raised money for Loyalist Spain and travelled to Spain during its civil war(3). Called before Joseph McCarthy’s House Committee on Un-American Activities, she refused to name names and was later the subject of testimony herself(2). Parker left her estate to Martin Luther King Jr., transferred upon his death to the NAACP. Her ashes are interred in the memorial garden named for her at the NAACP headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland(3).
1: Hiaasen, Rob. “Fans hope writer’s ashes won’t be left in the dust.” Baltimore Sun 5/28/2006.
2: “Dorothy Parker.” 2000.
3: Pettit, Rhonda. “Bio-Critical Summary and Selected Bibliography.”
Photo from Sound and Fury