Dorothy Parker: Biography

Dorothy Parker

22 aug 1893

Dorothy Parker was a poet, critic, novelist and storyteller born in New Jersey in 1893. Her mother died when she was just 5 years old, her father remarried and she lived an unhappy childhood with a father and a stepmother who she famously hated. She attended Miss Diana’s Finishing School until she was 18, and had to play the piano to make a living once she graduated and her father passed away.

In 1914, she sold a poem to the magazine Vanity Fair and this marked the start of her writing career. She was hired to work at Vogue magazine just a few months later. She became a notorious critic, writing reviews which were often harsh but extremely cleverly observed and written. She was actually fired from Vanity Fair in 1920 after her reviews and observations had offended too many important people.

When The New Yorker was founded in 1925, Parker started to write for the magazine, with her first piece appearing in its second issue. She wrote short, funny poems which were often inspired by her strings of unsuccessful romantic attachments. She was extremely prolific, having hundreds of stories and poems published in the most widely-read magazines of the age. The 1920s also marked the beginning of Parker’s commitment to political activism. She went on to campaign for and against a huge number of political issues.

Dorothy Parker died in 1967 in New York. She suffered a fatal heart attack, aged 73.