Dorothy Parker: some things worth remembering . . .

She was born Dorothy Rothschild (nothing to do with the bankers) in 1893 and died just over seventy in 1967. She was American, one of the founders of the wits’ Round Table at the Algonquin Hotel on West 44th Street, New York. She was not unhappy all her life, but never really happy. Here are some of the sayings she is remembered for:

On her premature birth: “The last time I was early for anything.”

On the rest of the staff in her office at Vanity Fair: “Four young men who go to pieces easily. Even when they are in the best of health, you have to stand on their insteps to keep them from flying away.”

On sharing a tiny office with Robert Benchley: “An inch smaller and it would have been adultery.”

On an abortion: “It serves me right for putting all my eggs in one bastard.”

On one of her lovers: “Poor John, his body went to his head.”

On being refused entrance to a gambling casino because she wasn’t wearing stockings: “So I went and found my stockings and then came back and lost my shirt.”

On suicide: “Razors pain you; rivers are damp; acids stain you, and drugs cause cramp. Guns are lawful; nooses give; gas smells awful; you might as well live.”

On giving up her job as a book reviewer on the New Yorker; “it cut in too much on my reading.”

On being separated from her husband actor Alan Campbell: “Oh, don’t worry about Alan. Alan will always fall on someone’s feet.”

On getting an interview with Cecil B. deMille: “it’s like riding a camel through the eye of a needle.”

On being lonely in her scriptwriter’s office: “unless someone comes near my office, I’m going to write MEN on the door.”

When challenged to produce a sentence with the word ‘horticulture’ in it: “you can lead a horticulture but you can’t make her think.”

The same challenge with the word ‘opium’: “I opium mother is better today.”

When she lost her garter at a grand New York cocktail party: “Nearer my garter Thee.”

On hearing that an actress acquaintance was pregnant without an available husband: “good work: we all knew you had it in you.”

On hearing that another actress friend had broken her leg working in London: “she must have done it sliding down a barrister.”

On Clare Boothe Luce, the extremely grand wife of an eminent magazine publisher, who was said to be kind to her inferiors: “wherever does she find them?”

On being asked by a female journalist ‘how do you do it?’: “Ask your analyst; he might have a word with your ovaries.”

On being asked if she had enjoyed a party: “Did I enjoy the party? One more drink and I’d have been under the host.”

On being asked, again, if she would marry a chap: “take me or leave me, or as is the usual order of things, both.”

A famous society hostess, approaching a door, stopped and ushered Dorothy through, saying at the same time, ‘age before beauty!’, to which Dorothy replied as she swept in: “pearls before swine!”

In what she called News Item, Dorothy pronounced; “men seldom make passes, at girls who wear glasses.”

On famous Frenchmen: “and I’ll stay off Verlaine too; he was always chasing Rimbauds.”

On being told that Calvin Coolidge was dead: “How do they know?”

On a Catherine Hepburn stage first night: “she ran the whole gamut of the emotions from A to B.”

On her own epitaph: “Excuse my dust.”

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