About Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker—one of the 20th century's most clever, caustic, witty writers—held her own as one of the few women at a table of (almost) equally smart and wisecracking men.

She married stockbroker Edwin Parker when she was in her early 20s. But he was sent immediately to Europe in World War I. By the time he came back, they had grown apart, and Dorothy's career had taken off. As a member of the Algonquin Round Table, she became famous as much for her biting remarks as for her brilliant writing.

A prolific poet and critic, Dorothy published more than 300 poems in the 1920s. The collection of her writing, The Portable Dorothy Parker, has never gone out of print.

In the 1920s and afterward, Dorothy Parker contributed to the New Yorker and Esquire, and even earned two Academy Award screenplay nominations. She took up pet political causes—and numerous pets—and eventually bequeathed her literary estate to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. After his assassination, her estate passed to the NAACP. For her tombstone epitaph, she suggested “Excuse My Dust.”

About the Algonquin Round Table

Algonquin Hotel Round Table roomThe Algonquin Round Table was an elite group of journalists, editors, playwrights and critics who gathered daily for lunch in the dining room of New York’s Algonquin Hotel in the 1920s. Eating lunch became secondary to trading insults, wisecracks and witticisms, which earned the Round Tablers notoriety in local and national newspaper columns (including some of their own).

The Algonquin Round Table didn’t start out at a round table. It actually started as a prank at a long rectangular table. Friends of Alexander Woollcott had become tired of his inflated opinion of himself. In an effort to deflate his ego, they gathered a large group of Manhattan’s literati at the Algonquin and “roasted” Woollcott. The plan backfired. Woollcott had so much fun as the center of attention that he recruited many of the attendees to return to the Algonquin every day for lunch and laughter. Before long, the manager of the Algonquin Hotel moved the group—who called themselves The Vicious Circle—to a specially-dedicated round table in the center of the hotel’s dining room. This lunch went on for ten years.

The stock market crash of 1929 brought the giddy, raucous Roaring 20s to a close, and largely marked the end of the daily gathering of the Algonquin Round Table.

In addition to Dorothy Parker, the core members of the Algonquin Round Table included:

  • Franklin Pierce Adams, columnist
  • Robert Benchley, critic and humorist
  • Heywood Broun, sports writer and columnist
  • Marc Connelly, playwright
  • George Kaufman, playwright
  • Harold Ross, editor and founder of The New Yorker
  • Robert Sherwood, author and playwright
  • Alexander Woollcott, critic and journalist
  • Occasional members of the Algonquin Round Table included:

  • Edna Ferber, novelist and playwright
  • Jane Grant, reporter and co-founder of The New Yorker (with husband Harold Ross)
  • Ruth Hale, reporter and women’s rights advocate (married to Heywood Broun)
  • Harpo Marx, comedian and actor
  • Neysa McMein, magazine artist
  • Donald Ogden Stewart, playwright and screenwriter
  • John Peter Toohey, publicist