Free-lance writer Dorothy Parker, 29, is worrying about how to handle the regular book club that she is hosting this evening here at her apartment.
Sixth Avenue and West 57th Street
They all will have heard; she lunches at the Algonquin Hotel most days with one of the regulars, New York Times reporter Jane Grant, 30, and her husband American Legion Weekly editor Harold Ross, also 30. Parker knows the writers who congregate there have been spreading rumors and trying to figure out why she did it.
Dottie is thinking it will be best to take the direct approach. She’ll greet each guest saying,
I slashed my wrists.”
That should get over some of the awkwardness.
That Sunday she had arrived back here at her apartment feeling really hungry. She called down and ordered delivery from that vile—but convenient—restaurant downstairs, the Swiss Alps.
When she went into the bathroom Parker saw the razor left behind by her estranged husband Edwin Pond Parker III, 29, when he took off to his family back in Connecticut last summer. She hadn’t noticed it before.
Parker took the blade and cut along the vein in her left wrist. Blood spurted all over the room. Her hand was so slippery she had a hard time slitting the other wrist.
And then the delivery boy arrived with dinner.
Call a doctor!”
Dottie shouted. The ambulance took her to Presbyterian Hospital.
Some of her friends’ comments around the lunch table have gotten back to her.
Playwright Marc Connelly, 32, thinks it was “just a bit of theatre.” A few feel Parker was looking for attention, or to have Eddie come back. Jane Grant is suspicious of the fortuitous arrival of the delivery boy.
Dorothy and Eddie Parker
Her family and some of her lunch friends came to visit Parker in the hospital. Dean of the New York columnists Franklin Pierce Adams (FPA), 41, stayed away. Connelly came; as did theatre critic Alexander Woollcott, about to turn 36. Most important of all was the visit from her best friend, Life magazine editor Robert Benchley, 33.
Eddie didn’t even keep his razors sharp,”
she told him.
In the hospital Parker had tied pale blue ribbons into little bows around the scars on her wrists. For the bridge club tonight, Dottie decides to use black velvet ribbons.
Next month I will be talking about the literary 1920s in Paris and New York City in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Carnegie-Mellon University.
Manager as Muse,about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in both print and e-book versions.
In Ireland, at Dublin’s Abbey Theatre, still run by one of its founders, Lady Augusta Gregory, 69, the company is finishing up, with a matinee and evening performance today, the run of a double bill including A Pot of Broth by one of its other founders, Irish poet William Butler Yeats, 56. The Abbey has been performing this little one act about gullible peasants since it was written over 15 years ago.
Throughout the country, violent atrocities are committed by the Irish Republican Army and the British Black and Tans, while in Dublin, in a huge leap forward for Irish independence, the government of the Irish Free State is finally coming into being.
Newspaper headline, December 8
In England, near Oxford, Yeats is encouraged by the news of the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, giving Ireland, including 26 of the island’s 32 counties, Dominion status in the British Commonwealth. He writes to a friend that he expects the Irish parliament, the Dail, will ratify the treaty, but
I see no hope of escape from bitterness, and the extreme party may carry the country.”
With the establishment of the Irish Free State, Yeats and his wife Georgie, 29, are thinking of moving back to Dublin in the new year with their two children, Anne, 2 ½, and the recently christened Michael Butler Yeats, four months old.
In Sussex, Virginia, 39, and her husband LeonardWoolf, 41, have come to their country home, Monk’s House, for the holidays.
The Hogarth Press, the publishing company they have operated out of their home in the Richmond section of London for the past four years, is steadily growing. In total they published six titles this year, a 50% increase over last.
A book of woodcuts by a friend of theirs, Roger Fry, 55, that they brought out just a few months ago is going in to its third printing.
They have hired an assistant, Ralph Partridge, 27, who was at first helpful. Now he works in the basement, sleeps over during the week and has a bad habit of leaving the press and metal type dirty, which drives Leonard crazy. Partridge’s profit-sharing deal has increased from last year, but is only £125.
Before they came down here to ring in the new year, the Woolfs had a visit from their friend, one of their former best-selling writers, Katherine Mansfield, 33. They discussed excerpts from a new work, Ulysses, by Irish novelist James Joyce, 39, to be published in Paris in a few months. Mansfield agrees that it is disgusting, but she still found some scenes that she feels will one day be deemed important.
About three years ago, Virginia and Leonard were approached about publishing Ulysses, but they rejected it. They don’t regret their decision.
In France, Paris has become home to over 6,000 Americans, enjoying being let out of the prison of Prohibition back home.
Writer Gertrude Stein, 47, who has lived here for almost 20 years, has been laid up recently after minor surgery. She is still writing, working on Didn’t Nelly & Lilly Love You, which includes references to her birthplace, Allegheny, Pennsylvania, and that of her partner for the past 14 years, Alice B. Toklas, 44, Oakland, California, and how the two of them met in Paris.
The author at Gertrude Stein’s house in Allegheny, Pennsylvania
Because she recently visited the nearby studio of another American ex-pat, painter and photographer Man Ray, 31, who just moved here last summer, Gertrude works into the piece “a description of Mr. Man Ray.“
In America, New York free-lance writer Dorothy Parker, 28, is attending, as usual, the New Year’s Eve party hosted by two of her friends from lunches at the Algonquin Hotel—New York World columnist Heywood Broun, 33, and his wife, journalist Ruth Hale, 34. Their party is an annual event, but bigger than ever this year because it is being held in their newly purchased brownstone at 333 West 85th Street.
Parker notes that they are directly across the street from one of the buildings that she lived in with her father.
Building across the street from the Brouns’ brownstone
Dottie is here alone. Her friends don’t expect her husband, stockbroker and war veteran Eddie Pond Parker, 28, to be with her. They joke that she keeps him in a broom closet back home.
She’s enjoying talking to one of her other lunch buddies, top New York Tribune columnist Franklin Pierce Adams [always known as FPA], 40, who is professing his undying love for Parker. While sitting next to his wife and keeping an eye on a pretty young actress in a pink dress.
All the furniture except for some folding chairs has been removed to make room for the 200 guests and a huge vat of orange blossoms [equal parts gin and orange juice, with powdered sugar thrown in]. No food or music. Just illegal booze.
As the turn of the new year approaches, the guests join the hosts in one of their favorite traditions. Dottie and the others each stand on a chair.
At the stroke of midnight they jump off, into the unknown of 1922.
Thanks to Neil Weatherall, author of the play, The Passion of the Playboy Riots, for help in unravelling Irish history.
On February 3, 2022, we will be celebrating the 148th birthday of my fellow Pittsburgh native Gertrude Stein, at Riverstone Books in Squirrel Hill. To register for this free event, or to watch it via Zoom, go to Riverstone’s website.
Manager as Muse, about Scribner’s editor Maxwell Perkins’ relationships with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, is also available on Amazon in both print and e-book versions.
The apartment that free-lance writer Dorothy Parker, 27, is planning to rent at the corner of Sixth Avenue and 57th Street on the Upper West Side, is not great.
But Parker feels that she and her husband, Eddie, also 27, a veteran of the Great War, really need a change.
Currently they are living farther uptown on 71st and West End Avenue. Eddie seems to have his morphine addiction under control, but still drinks. He has started back to work at Paine Webber, and she is selling lots of stories, articles and poems to magazines like Life, The Saturday Evening Post, Ladies Home Journal.
But the Parkers definitely need a change, and this could be it.
Dorothy has been looking around midtown and hasn’t come up with any better alternatives. One place an agent had shown her was much too big. She told him,
All I need is room enough to lay a hat and a few friends.”
This dusty three-story building, right near the rattling, noisy Sixth Avenue El, has a tiny place available on the top floor.
The Sixth Avenue El
The studios are designed for artists to use, not necessarily live in. One of the illustrators here is Neysa McMein, 32, whose apartment is used as a drinking hangout by many of their mutual friends, writers who lunch regularly at the Algonquin Hotel, right off Sixth Avenue on West 44th Street, a short walk away.
Another advantage is the Swiss Alps restaurant, on the ground floor of the building. They deliver.
So Parker is determined to sign a lease and move in with her seed-spilling canary, Onan, her not yet housebroken Scottish terrier, Woodrow Wilson, and her still traumatized husband.
If that doesn’t save this marriage, nothing will.
“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago… is the basis for the book, “Such Friends”: The Literary 1920s, to be published by K. Donnelly Communications. For more information, email me at email@example.com.
Read about Dorothy Parker’s ashes being re-interred in New York City here.
My “Such Friends” presentations, Dorothy Parker and the Algonquin Round Table, and The Founding of the Abbey Theatre, are available to view on the website of PICT Classic Theatre.
Dorothy Parker, 26, is clearing out her desk on her last day as Vanity Fair’s drama critic.
She’d loved this job. She’d spent the past four years with Conde Nast publishing, first at Vogue. She was thrilled when she was moved up to Vanity Fair.
Vanity Fair, January 1920
Two weeks ago, the editor-in-chief, Frank Crowninshield, 47, had invited her for tea and scones at the Plaza Hotel. Dottie thought she was going to get that raise she had asked for.
Crownie apologetically explained that the regular drama critic she had replaced, P. G. Wodehouse, 38, was returning, so she’d have to go, of course. He also just mentioned that Mr. Nast, 46, wasn’t happy that so many Broadway producers complained about her negative reviews of their plays. Saying that Billie Burke, 35, the actress-wife of impresario Flo Ziegfeld, 52, had “thick ankles” was hardly theatrical criticism. Ziegfeld was threatening to pull his advertising.
Well, critics are supposed to give bad reviews too. That’s why they are “critics,” she thought. As she ordered the most expensive dessert.
Dorothy Parker, nee Rothschild
Back at her apartment, her husband, Eddie, 26, still getting over the war, was no help. Parker had called her best friend, Vanity Fair managing editor Robert Benchley, 30, at his home in Scarsdale. He had come right down on the next train.
Adding her firing to that of their colleague, Robert Sherwood, 23, who was replaced by Nast’s children’s piano teacher, showed Parker and Benchley a pattern that they weren’t happy about.
In the office the next morning, Benchley had written his resignation. He had explained to Crownie—who hadn’t expected to lose a good managing editor—that the job wasn’t worth having without his two colleagues.
Parker was astounded. Benchley had a wife and two sons in the suburbs. Gertrude, 30, had said she would support her husband’s decision, but she sure wasn’t happy about it.
It was the greatest act of friendship I’d known,”
Parker said later.
So now, on her last day, taking everything she could with her from the office, leaving nothing but the scent of her favorite perfume, Coty’s Chypre, behind, Dottie was conjuring up all the free-lance ways she could keep writing and earning. Crownie had suggested working from home. But she didn’t even know how to change a typewriter ribbon.
Two of their New York newspaper friends, the Times drama critic Alexander Woollcott, just turned 33, and the city’s most-read columnist, FPA, 38, at the Tribune, with whom they lunch almost every day at the nearby Algonquin Hotel, have promised to promote them in their papers. That would get those New York publisher tongues wagging.
Because of his contract, Benchley had to stay on until the end of the month—he plans to go out with a piece, “The Social Life of the Newt.” He is being replaced by Princeton grad Edmund “Bunny” Wilson, 24. All Parker remembers about him is that he had hit on her during his job interview.
“Such Friends”: 100 Years Ago… is the basis for the book, “Such Friends”: The Literary 1920s, to be published by K. Donnelly Communications. For more information, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.