Dorothy Parker was a revered poet, author, and reviewer in the early 20th century in America.

She was one of the members of the Algonquin Round Table, an elite membership that clearly demonstrates her prowess with words.

Parker's most well-known work is her poetry, which was widely published in three early volumes "Enough Rope" (1926), "Sunset Gun" (1929), and "Death and Taxes" (1932). Parker was one of the first women writers to step out of traditonal gender roles in her poetry, expressing sentiments of sexuality, anger, sadness, and arrogance -- all traits that were almost entirely absent from preceeding women poets. Parker, in a nutshell, changed not only how women wrote poety, she helped change how women were allowed to think.

Pursuant to E2 Copyright Changes, permission to post Dorothy Parker's work was requested of the Baltimore, Maryland law firm that represents the interests of the NAACP. The NAACP in turn holds the rights to Dororthy Parker's estate, having received them as part of Martin Luther King Jr.'s estate. Dorothy Parker left her estate to King when she died in 1967. He died the following year.

The following is the law firm's response, received on Tuesday, 12 August 2003:

I am in receipt of your email message today to [name of laywer] regarding the posting of Dorothy Parker's works on the everything2 web site. ... We appreciate your proactive stance regarding permissions and the heads up telling us that some of your users have submitted portions of Mrs. Parker's works to be posted on your database.

The copyright holder of Dorothy Parker's works is the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). We are attorneys who assist the NAACP with the granting of permissions. It has always been the policy of the NAACP NOT to permit Mrs. Parker's works to be posted on the Internet. Additionally, the NAACP does not permit its own documents to be posted on the Internet.

Kindly remove Dorothy Parker's materials from your web site and decline to accept any new postings of such material.

We appreciate your cooperation.


[Helpful person]
[Name of law firm]
Baltimore, MD

As such, Dorothy Parker's poetry should not be posted on E2, although original commentary about her and her work is of course welcome. Thank you for respecting the NAACP's wishes and E2's responsibilities in this matter.

- Lord Brawl
August 2003

Dorothy Rothschild was born in 1893 in West End, New Jersey; any hopes of a humble, traditional upbringing were shattered at the age of four, with the death of her mother. Educated until she was 13 at a typical catholic school, she could often be found earning money playing piano music at a local dancing school. In 1914, Dorothy only 21 years of age, she was hired as an editorial assistant for another Condé Nast magazine, Vogue after selling a poem to them for publication. Three years later, she married veteran, alcoholic, and morphine addict Edwin Parker II—a mere two years later the couple divorced.

Her employment at Vogue was short lived; she could be found writing for Vanity Fair between 1917 and 1920. Her editor “later recalled that she had ‘the quickest tongue imaginable, and I need not to say the keenest sense of mockery.’” While working at the magazine she met writers Robert Benchley and Robert Sherwood and the three soon began lunching together. This was the humble beginning of the famous Algonquin Round Table, it would be later joined by fellow American wits Franklin Adams, Alexander Woollcott, and Harpo Marx. One could consider The Algonquin Round Table to be the American wits’ equivalent to The Inklings, a society frequented by C.S Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien (among others) during their years as professors. The collaborators of the Round Table greatly helped publicize the works of Dorothy, who was almost unheard of at the time.

It worked: in 1926, Parker published Enough Rope, her first collection of poems. It soon became a best-seller, and its content is often referenced in today’s media and literature. Only a year after Enough Rope’s release, Dorothy landed a job writing book reviews for The New Yorker, a position which she held until 1933. Even after her departure from the publication, Dorothy occasionally submitted articles up until her death. In 1928 she released a second volume of poetry, which would be followed by many others.

Much left unsaid, Dorothy Parker’s life may seem to be and American ideal of sorts: a humble, self-dependent upbringing to the life of a minor celebrity. However, her reputation during the 1920s was dubious:

“...Parker had extra-marital affairs, she drank heavily and attempted suicide three times, but maintained the highs quality of her texts. Her brief affair with F. Scott Fitzgerald while he was married to the unstable Zelda was motivated, according to the gossip columnist Sheilah Graham, by compassion on her part and despair on his.” (CUNY)

Dorothy married Allan Campbell in 1917, whom she divorced (and proceeded to marry a second time) in 1950. She remained with Campbell for the remainder of her life, during which she continued to write poetry, stories, plays as well as screenplays. She died in 1967 at age 74 of a heart attack, discovered by her maid, although even in death her sense of humor proved to be quite lively:

Susan Shapiro argues that she may have written her own eulogy, which may have included quotes from her poem "The Braggart," stating, "You will be frail and musty/with peering, furtive head/, While I am Young and Lusty/ Among the roaring dead." (CUNY)

A most notable characteristic of Dorothy is her individuality and progressive nature, one could consider her to be on of the earliest of beatniks: she thought for herself and “illustrated the real effects of poverty, economic and spiritual ideas upon women who had lacked education as a result of social class and sex.” (CUNY)

A self-proclaimed Communist in an era succeeding the Nazi regime in Germany and preceding the Cold War, to call Dorothy Parker “ahead of her time” is hardly description enough.

Celebrities are often forgotten through the decades, and Dorothy Parker is not exempt from this generalization: I find that many of my educated peers at school have not heard of her. Perhaps this is because leisure reading is a fading trend in an age of electronics—Dorothy’s works are usually too ‘taboo’ to be assigned school reading. Her life filled was riddled with tragedy, drama, wit and ideology- Parker’s talents were of a manifold variety: she was a wit, playwright, reporter, communist, romantic, and truly a philosopher of modern times, and it would be a great tragedy if her works were to become forgotten by younger generations.

"Dorothy Rothschild Parker 1893-1967." College of Staten Island Library. 25 Oct. 2006 .

"Dorothy Parker (1893-1967)." 25 Oct. 2006 .

"Dorothy Parker." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 23 Oct 2006, 05:38 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 25 Oct 2006 .

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