An American critic, satirical poet, and short-story writer, Dorothy Rothschild Parker is remembered as much for her flashing verbal exchanges and malicious wit as for the disenchanted stories and sketches in which she revealed her underlying pessimism. Starting her career as Vanity Fair's drama critic and continuing as the New Yorker's theatre and book reviewer, Parker enhanced her legend in the 1920s and early 1930s through membership in the Algonquin Hotel's celebrated Round Table.
Parker published her first light verse in Enough Rope (1927) and Death and Taxes (1931), volumes marked by an elegant economy of expression, sophisticated cynicism, and irony. These were followed by the short-story collections Laments for the Living (1930) and After Such Pleasures (1933), containing her single most famous story, "Big Blonde." Parker scripted films in Hollywood from 1933 to 1938 and in 1937 covered the Spanish Civil War for the New Masses.
Dorothy Parker was not all vitriol; indeed her disciplined technique and impeccable psychological timing by themselves mark her out as a writer of high calibre. But it is her constant preoccupation with death and with an ever-present pain that the reader perhaps finds most haunting. Beneath her carapace of electrifying wit, which reflected brilliantly the age she lived in, was a woman for whom happiness was, at best, precarious. She was, Brendan Gill remarked, one of the saddest people in the world.