Dorothy Parker (August 22nd, 1893 – June 7th, 1967) was an American poet, short story writer and satirist, best remembered for her wit and wisecracks.
Born in New Jersey, Parker had an unhappy childhood, leading to a long and unhappy relationship with her own father. She first became well known in 1918 when she stepped in for P. G Wodehouse writing theatre criticism for Vanity Fair. While her caustic wit was popular with readers, she was eventually terminated after her criticisms began to offend powerful theatre producers.
During the 1920s, Parker released some of her best and well known work, publishing three hundred poems and free verses. Her first volume of poetry, Enough Rope was published in 1926, selling 47,000 copies and garnering impressive reviews. She couldn’t impress everyone, however and a New York Times review dismissed her work as flapper verse.
That aside, Dorothy Parker is still remembered today for her dazzling wit, caustic poetry, and honest humour written from a female perspective showing she was way ahead of her time.
“Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone.”
“That would be a good thing for them to cut on my tombstone: Wherever she went, including here, it was against her better judgment.”
“By the time you swear you’re his,
Shivering and sighing.
And he vows his passion is,
Lady make note of this —
One of you is lying.”
“If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.”
“I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I’m under the table,
after four I’m under my host.”
“Tell him I was too fucking busy– or vice versa.”
“It serves me right for putting all my eggs in one bastard.”
They hail you as their morning star
Because you are the way you are.
If you return the sentiment,
They’ll try to make you different;
And once they have you, safe and sound,
They want to change you all around.
Your moods and ways they put a curse on;
They’d make of you another person.
They cannot let you go your gait;
They influence and educate.
They’d alter all that they admired.
They make me sick, they make me tired.”
“If all the girls attending [the Yale prom] were laid end to end, I wouldn’t be at all surprised.”
“When I was young and bold and strong,
The right was right, the wrong was wrong.
With plume on high and flag unfurled,
I rode away to right the world.
But now I’m old – and good and bad,
Are woven in a crazy plaid.
I sit and say the world is so,
And wise is s/he who lets it go.”
He graduated form Oxford in 1928 and after spending a year in Germany returned to the UK to become a teacher.
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