Monday, September 1, 2014

IWW Members' Publishing Successes



Barbara Johnson

Part Six of Accused? Guilty, is now online. The novel is serialized into forty-one parts, so will announce as each becomes available.

Theresa A. Cancro

My poem, “You Caught Me,” appears on the Brandywine Village Network's Memoir page.  Note: this website loads slowly. Click on the photos to read the writings.


“Jawbreaker,” appears in Kind of a Hurricane Press anthology, A Touch of Saccharine, now in print.


“Garnet,” and “Crimson Circle,” appear in Stormcloud Poets Second Anthology, also just out in print.

Judith Quaempts

My novel, A Place Called Winter chosen as a Top Pick and reviewed today in Underground Book Reviews.
 

 Some of Novels-L may remember critiquing this for me-because of the great crits I wound up cutting about 10,000 words and learning a heck of a lot. So thanks again for getting me this far.


Friday, August 29, 2014

Notes For August 29th, 2014


This Day In Writing History

On August 29th, 1833, Britain's Parliament passed the Mills and Factory Act, the first of many reforms enacted to improve the "health and morals" of child laborers - the most exploited members of the working class.

The Mills and Factory Act made it illegal for children under nine years old to work, limited the work week of children aged 9-12 to a maximum of 48 hours and limited the work week for teenagers to a maximum of 68 hours.

The Act also included minimum provisions for facilitating the education of child laborers and for protecting their health and safety. Although woefully inadequate by today's standards, the law was revolutionary for its time.

Why would Parliament, then notorious for its extreme reluctance to regulate British businesses in any way, pass the Mills and Factory Act, which for the first time ever granted national government inspectors unprecedented, unlimited access to factories?

And why, over the years, were more regulatory acts passed by Parliament - acts that were increasingly stricter, leading to the total outlawing of most forms of child labor?

It was all due to the efforts of England's greatest writers, whose works brought the horrific nature of unregulated child labor to national attention, sparking national outrage and demands for reform.

In 1789, the legendary poet William Blake published his classic poem The Chimney Sweeper, in which a child laborer tells of his unhappy plight:

When my mother died I was very young,
And my father sold me while yet my tongue,
Could scarcely cry weep weep weep weep.
So your chimneys I sweep & in soot I sleep...


Blake died in 1827 - six years before the Mills and Factory Act was passed. He spent his last years living in rooms off the Strand, near the alleyways where a child laborer named Charles Dickens walked en route to the job he detested.

Another great English writer who brought the horrors of child labor to national attention was Frances Trollope, whose classic novel, The Life and Adventures of Michael Armstrong, The Factory Boy was published in 1840.

To ensure the accuracy of her novel, Trollope thoroughly researched child labor, combing through contemporary documents and reading the testimony of the victims of unregulated child labor. Most influential was a memoir written by a man named Robert Blincoe.

Blincoe became a workhouse orphan at the age of four. When he was seven, he and eighty other workhouse children, both boys and girls, were taken to work in a horrific textile mill in Nottingham. He would later testify before a Parliamentary committee investigating child labor abuses:

I have seen the time when two weights have each been screwed to my ears. Then three or four of us have been hung on a beam over the machinery, hanging by our hands. Mind, we were apprentices without a mother or father to take care of us. Then we used to stand up, in a skip, without our shirts, and be beat with straps. Then they used to tie up a 28-pound weight to hang down our backs.

Of course, the English writer who contributed the most to reforming child labor was the aforementioned Charles Dickens, who exposed the horrors of child labor in classic novels such as Oliver Twist (1837) and David Copperfield (1850).

As a child laborer himself, he saw these horrors firsthand. Dickens, a child prodigy, had lived a comfortable upper middle class life. Like many others in a similar position, he had felt a sense of superiority and entitlement.

Then, when he was twelve, his father went broke and was sent to debtor's prison. Charles was forced to work to pay off his father's debts. Angrily bemoaning his situation at first, he soon developed a deep compassion for the poor and oppressed of all ages.

The passage of the Mills and Factory Act in 1833 and subsequent reforms to end the suffering caused by unregulated child labor is proof that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword.

The Mills and Factory Act was passed not because of a violent revolution at the workplace, but because England's greatest writers had the courage to speak out against the suffering of child laborers and use the power of their words to bring about change.


Quote Of The Day

"In the little world in which children have their existence, whosoever brings them up, there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt, as injustice." - Charles Dickens


Vanguard Video

Today's video features a reading of the first chapter of Charles Dickens' classic novel, David Copperfield. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Notes For August 28th, 2014


This Day In Writing History

On August 28th, 1749, the legendary German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born. He was born in Frankfurt, where he lived with his family in a large house.

Goethe's siblings, except for his younger sister Cornelia, died at early ages. As a boy, Goethe received his education from tutors, as his father was determined to give his children all the educational advantages he never had.

The young Goethe quickly developed an interest in literature, with Homer and the German poet Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock among his earliest favorite authors. He was also devoted to the theater and particularly fond of the puppet shows staged in his home.


When he was sixteen, Goethe began studying law in Leipzig, but came to detest it. He fell in love with a girl named Käthchen Schönkopf and wrote her love poems, but failed to win her heart.

Three years later, in 1768, Goethe returned to Frankfurt, as his studies were going nowhere. In 1770, he published his first book anonymously. It was a poetry collection called
Annette.

Goethe began writing prolifically, but soon fell seriously ill. His relationship with his father strained, he was nursed back to health by his mother and sister. Bored during his convalescence, he wrote in bed. After he recovered, his father sent him to Strasbourg to finish his studies.


In Strasbourg, Goethe met poet and philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder, and they became close friends. Herder got him interested in Shakespeare's plays and in volkspoesie - folk poetry.

After he finished his law studies, Goethe's thesis, based on his own ideas, was published. He was offered a job in the French government but rejected it and returned to Frankfurt, where he was certified to practice law.

Working for the local government, Goethe tried to make the law more humane and progressive. As a result, he was reprimanded and terminated from his position.


Disgusted with law, Goethe decided to pursue a literary career. This time, his father was supportive of his decision and even helped him out. Goethe became an editor for a literary magazine, but he couldn't support himself on his small salary.

So, in 1772, he went to Wetzlar to practice law again. Two years later, in 1774, he published his first novel,
The Sorrows of Young Werther. The tragic tale was an important novel of the Sturm und Drang (Storm and Stress) era of German literature.

Goethe's novel, which mostly takes the form of a collection of letters, tells the story of Werther, a young, sensitive aspiring artist.

While staying in the fictional village of Wahlheim, Werther meets a beautiful girl named Lotte, who has been caring for her siblings since their mother died. Werther falls in love with Lotte, even though she's already engaged to marry Albert, a man eleven years her senior.

Werther becomes close friends with both Lotte and Albert, but his love for Lotte causes him too much pain, so he goes to Wiemar, where he suffers more embarrassment. Returning to Wahlheim, Werther finds that Lotte and Albert have married.


Lotte, feeling both sorrow for her friend and respect for her husband, decides that Werther shouldn't visit them so often. He makes one final visit, where he delivers a memorable recitation of a portion of Ossian.

Werther ultimately realizes that this painful love triangle can only be dissolved by the death of himself, Albert, or Lotte, but he is unable to harm Albert or Lotte.

Seeing no other choice, Werther has Lotte send him two pistols. He commits suicide, dying twelve hours after shooting himself. Neither Lotte nor Albert nor a clergyman attends his funeral.

The Sorrows of Young Werther was considered controversial and accused of romanticizing suicide, which was considered sinful by Christian doctrine. Suicides were denied Christian burial.

From a young age, Goethe loathed the Church, whose history he described as "a hotchpotch of mistakes and violence." He had no use for its doctrines.


The Sorrows of Young Werther became a huge success for Goethe and made him world famous, but it didn't make him rich. Copyright law was virtually nonexistent at the time and pirated editions of literary works were common.

Goethe thwarted the pirates by periodically authorizing "new" and "revised" editions of his works. His new found fame won him an invitation to the court of Carl August, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach. So, he went to Weimar, where he lived the rest of his life and held several offices, eventually becoming the Duke's chief adviser.


As a writer, Goethe remained prolific and authored a large body of works, mostly poetry and plays, along with the occasional novel.

Some of his classic poems include
Prometheus (1773), Hermann and Dorothea (1798), and Roman Elegies (1790). Roman Elegies, aka Erotica Romana, was a collection of poems written during Goethe's two year visit to Italy.

During his lifetime (and afterward) some of these poems were suppressed due to their sexual imagery. Goethe's poetry has inspired the works of legendary composers such as Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert.


As a playwright, Goethe was best known for his masterpiece, Faust. It was written in two parts. The first, Faust Part One, was published in 1808, and the second, Faust Part Two, which Goethe completed shortly before his death in 1832, was published posthumously.

In the play, God bets Mephisto (the Devil) that he can't tempt His favorite scholar, Dr. Faust. So, Mephisto offers Faust a bargain - he'll do Faust's bidding on Earth if Faust will do his bidding in Hell when he dies.


Unsatisfied by his scientific studies, Faust has a clause added to the contract: Mephisto must provide him something that will satisfy him - a moment that Faust would want to last forever. Mephisto agrees, so Faust signs the contract in blood.

God allows Faust to be led astray so He can lead him to the right path, teaching the scholar that "man must still err while he doth strive." Faust's attempts to satisfy his desires have disastrous consequences for those he cares about.


Faust became Goethe's best known work, one that still influences popular culture today. Goethe's play has been adapted for the opera and for the screen.

The most famous movie adaptation was the 1926 German silent feature film classic directed by F.W. Murnau, starring Emil Jannings as Mephisto.


In addition to his writing and practice of law, Goethe was also involved in scientific work. He had a keen interest in natural science and wrote scientific books on subjects such as insect morphology, homology, and color theory.

But he was best known for his fiction, poetry, and plays, with which he established himself as one of Germany's greatest writers. He died in 1832 at the age of 82.



Quote Of The Day

"None are more enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Vanguard Video

Today's video features a complete reading of Goethe's classic play, Faust! Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Notes For August 27th, 2014


This Day In Writing History

On August 27th, 1871, the famous American writer and journalist Theodore Dreiser was born. He was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, the twelfth of thirteen children. The popular songwriter Paul Dresser was Dreiser's older brother.

In 1889, Dreiser entered Indiana University, but he flunked out a year later. Several years after flunking out of university, Theodore Dreiser became a journalist, writing first for the Chicago Globe, then for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.

He wrote articles about famous writers such as Nathaniel Hawthorne and John Burroughs and interviewed public figures such as Andrew Carnegie and Thomas Edison. On December 28th, 1898, Dreiser married his girlfriend, Sara White. The couple separated in 1909, but never divorced.

In 1900, Theodore Dreiser's acclaimed first novel, Sister Carrie, was published. The controversial novel told the story of 18-year-old Caroline "Carrie" Meeber, a young girl living an unhappy life in rural Wisconsin.

So, Carrie takes a train to Chicago, where she has made arrangements to move in with her older sister Minnie and her brother-in-law, Sven. On the train, Carrie meets a traveling salesman named Charles Drouet. He is attracted to her and they exchange information.

Carrie finds life at her sister's apartment not much happier than it was in Wisconsin. To earn her keep, Carrie takes a job at a shoe factory. She finds her co-workers (both male and female) vulgar and the working conditions squalid. The job takes a toll on her health.

After getting sick, Carrie loses her job. She is reunited with Charles Drouet, who is still attracted to her. He takes her to dinner, where he asks her to move in with him, lavishing her with money. Tired of living with her sister and brother-in-law, Carrie agrees to be Drouet's kept woman.

Later, Drouet introduces Carrie to George Hurstwood, the manager of his favorite bar. Hurstwood, an unhappily married man, falls in love with Carrie, and they have an affair. But she returns to Drouet because Hurstwood can't provide for her financially.

So, Hurstwood embezzles a large sum of money from the bar and persuades Carrie to run away with him to Canada. In Montreal, Hurstwood is trapped by both his guilty conscience and a private detective and returns most of the stolen money.

He agrees to marry Carrie and the couple move to New York City, where they live under the assumed names George and Carrie Wheeler. Carrie believes she may have finally found happiness, but then she and George grow apart.

After George loses his source of income and gambles away the couple's savings, Carrie, who has been trying to build a career in the theater, leaves him. She becomes a rich and famous actress, but finds that wealth and fame don't bring her happiness and that nothing will.

When it was first published, Si
ster Carrie sold poorly. Due to its controversial nature, even though Dreiser had cut some material himself and other parts had been altered by editors, the publisher initially reneged on his agreement to publish the novel. Fortunately, a new agreement was reached and the novel was published.

Unfortunately for Dreiser, the publisher refused to promote it and gave it a bland, red cover, with only the names of the novel and the author on it. When the publisher's wife complained that the novel was too sordid, he withdrew it from circulation.

Later, it was republished when Frank Norris, a reader for Doubleday & McClure, sent a few copies to reviewers. All the subsequent editions of the novel came from the first publisher's edited version of the manuscript.

In 1981, Dreiser's original, unexpurgated manuscript of Sister Carrie was finally published by the University of Pennsylvania Press. Still, even in its edited version, Sister Carrie was regarded as a classic American novel. In his 1930 Nobel Prize Lecture, Sinclair Lewis said of it:


Dreiser's great first novel, Sister Carrie, which he dared to publish thirty long years ago and which I read twenty-five years ago, came to housebound and airless America like a great free Western wind, and to our stuffy domesticity gave us the first fresh air since Mark Twain and Whitman.

Theodore Dreiser wrote more classic novels, including his Trilogy of Desire series, The Financier (1912), The Titan (1914), and The Stoic (1947). But his 1925 novel, An American Tragedy, became his first commercial success. It's also considered a classic novel.

Inspired by a real life criminal case and set in Kansas City, it tells the story of Clyde Griffiths, the son of poor, devoutly religious parents who force him to join in their street missionary work. Dreaming of better things, he takes a job as bellboy at a local hotel

There, the other boys introduce him to alcohol and prostitutes. He falls in love with a girl, Hortense Briggs, and does everything he can to impress her.
While driving a stolen car, Clyde accidentally kills a child. He flees Kansas City.

After staying briefly in Chicago, Clyde reinvents himself as a foreman at a collar factory in Lycurgus, New York, owned by his long-lost uncle. Clyde promised himself that he wouldn't let his passions cause his downfall again, but then he falls for Roberta Alden.

Roberta is a poor farm girl who works under him at the factory. He enjoys their secret relationship (which is forbidden by company rules) and manipulates Roberta into having sex with him.

Clyde is not about to marry a poor farm girl; later, he He falls for Sondra Finchley, an elegant rich girl whose father is a friend of his uncle's.
Just as his relationship with Sondra shows promise, Clyde learns that Roberta is pregnant.

His attempt at arranging an illegal abortion proves unsuccessful, and Roberta threatens to reveal their relationship unless Clyde marries her. He decides to murder her instead. He takes her for a canoe ride and ends up hitting her with his camera.

The boat capsizes, and Roberta, who can't swim, drowns while Clyde swims back to shore, unwilling to save her.
The narrative is deliberately unclear as to whether Clyde really attempted to kill Roberta, or just struck her out of anger.

But the circumstantial evidence suggests murder, and the authorities are so determined to convict Clyde that they resort to manufacturing evidence to secure a conviction.

Despite a strong defense by lawyers hired by his uncle, Clyde is convicted and sentenced to death. The novel's greatest scenes of pathos take place in prison, where Clyde corresponds with his mother until the day of his execution.


In addition to his novels, Theodore Dreiser also wrote short story collections and non-fiction books about political issues. A devout socialist, Dreiser wrote of his 1927 trip to the Soviet Union in Dreiser Looks at Russia

He criticized American capitalism in
Tragic America (1931) and America is Worth Saving (1941). But he was best known for his fiction and is rightfully considered to be one of the all-time greatest American novelists.

Theodore Dreiser died 1945 at the age of 74.



Quote Of The Day

"Art is the stored honey of the human soul, gathered on wings of misery and travail." - Theodore Dreiser


Vanguard Video

Today's video features a reading of Theodore Dreiser's classic essay, The Factory. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Notes For August 26th, 2014


This Day In Writing History

On August 26th, 1904, the famous English writer Christopher Isherwood was born in High Lane, Cheshire, England. His father was a Lieutenant Colonel in the British Army, and moved the family often to wherever he was stationed.

Lt. Col. Isherwood was killed in action during World War I. Afterward, Christopher Isherwood and his mother lived in London and Wyberslegh. Isherwood attended St. Edmund's prep school in Surrey.

There, he met W.H. Auden, a soon to be famous writer who would become Isherwood's protege and close friend. After St. Edmund's, Isherwood attended Repton School, where he met writer Edward Upward, who would become a lifelong friend.

Isherwood and Upward collaborated on a short story collection, The Mortmere Stories. Although famous in literary circles, only one of the stories would be published during Isherwood's lifetime. The whole collection of stories was published posthumously in 1994.

Christopher Isherwood entered Corpus Christi College, Oxford, but deliberately failed his exams and left the college without a degree in 1925. He took a job as secretary for violinist André Mangeot and his string quartet, living with Mangeot and his family for the next three years.

In his spare time, Isherwood studied medicine and wrote a book of nonsensical poetry called
People One Ought To Know, which was illustrated by Mangeot's 11-year-old son, Sylvain.

Later in 1925, Isherwood was reunited with W.H. Auden. He became Auden's literary mentor and occasional lover. Auden introduced him to writer Sir Stephen Spender, whom he would later spend time with in Berlin.

Isherwood's first novel,
All The Conspirators, was published in 1928. It was about a young man, Philip, who longs to escape the office where he works, but is torn between pleasing his oppressive, domineering mother and living out his dream of becoming an artist. Philip's only ally is his sister, Joan.

Around the time his first novel was published, Isherwood studied medicine at King's College, London, but dropped out in six months to join W.H. Auden in Berlin. He had rejected his upper class roots and was openly gay though homosexuality was still a crime in England.

Isherwood came to love Berlin, which, before the rise of Hitler and Nazism, was known as one of Europe's most cultured and liberal cities. He took advantage of the sexual freedom in Berlin and indulged in his passion for handsome young men. He met one, Heinz, who became his first great love.


Isherwood's second novel, The Memorial, was published in 1932. It was another tale of conflict between mother and son, based on Isherwood's family history. While writing his third novel, Mr. Norris Changes Trains (1935), Isherwood worked as a tutor.

When Hitler came to power in Germany, Isherwood left Berlin and traveled around Europe, living in cities such as Sintra, Portugal, and Copenhagen, Denmark. Around this time, he collaborated on three plays with W.H. Auden:
The Dog Beneath The Skin (1935), The Ascent Of F6 (1936), and On The Frontier (1939).

In 1939, Isherwood published one of his masterpieces, a collection of short stories and novellas called The Berlin Stories. They were inspired by Isherwood's time living in Berlin and his experiences with its sexual underground.

The book's stories would be adapted as a play called
I Am A Camera and a popular, Tony Award winning Broadway musical, Cabaret, which would be adapted as an acclaimed feature film in 1972 starring Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey.

The city of Berlin would erect a plaque in Isherwood's memory on the house in Schoneberg, Berlin, where he had lived.
In 1939, after visiting New York City on their way back to England, Isherwood and Auden decided to emigrate to the United States.

This decision, made just months before England declared war on Germany, officially beginning World War II, was seen as a kind of betrayal by the patriotic crowd in England. Isherwood stayed in New York with Auden for a few months, then moved to Hollywood, California.


In Hollywood, he met mystic and historian Gerald Heard, who introduced him to Swami Prabhavananda and his Vedantic brand of Hindu spirituality and philosophy. Isherwood joined a group of mystic explorers that included writer Aldous Huxley and philosopher Bertrand Russell.

He embraced Vedanta and, working with the Swami, translated Hindu scriptures, wrote Vedanta essays, and the biography
Ramakrishna and His Disciples. He also wrote Vedanta themed novels and plays.

In 1946, Isherwood became a naturalized American citizen. This made him eligible for the draft, however, he had already established himself as a conscientious objector. Throughout the late 40s and early 50s, Isherwood spent most of his time with his Vedanta writings.

On Valentine's Day, 1953, while spending time on the beach with friends, the 48-year-old Isherwood was introduced to an 18-year-old aspiring artist named Don Bachardy. Despite a 30-year age difference and being interrupted by affairs and separations, Bachardy and Isherwood would remain partners until Isherwood's death.


During the early months of their relationship, (which would be chronicled in the acclaimed 2008 documentary Chris & Don: A Love Story) Isherwood finally completed The World In The Evening (1954), a novel he'd been working on for a few years. Bachardy typed up the manuscript.

When he wasn't writing, Isherwood taught creative writing at California State University, Los Angeles.
In 1962, Isherwood's novel Down There On A Visit was published. A semi-sequel to The Berlin Stories, the novel is narrated by a hedonistic writer who proves himself to be a man of extremes.

He relentlessly pursues physical pleasures, but interrupts his binges of debauchery to engage in meditation and take up disciplines such as learning a foreign language. He meets a famous male prostitute and the two men decide to take up a spiritual life dedicated to self-denial and meditation.


Two years later, in 1964, Isherwood published his other masterpiece, A Single Man. Told in a stream of consciousness narrative, the novel takes place during one day in the life of George Falconer, a middle-aged gay Englishman and professor living in Los Angeles, as he struggles to cope with the sudden death of his partner Jim in a car accident.

The novel's frank and honest treatment of homosexuality and gay relationships proved to be a shocker in 1964, but it was Isherwood's dazzling prose that made the novel a masterpiece.

Isherwood's fellow English writer Anthony Burgess declared it "a testimony to Isherwood's undiminished brilliance as a novelist." An acclaimed feature film adaptation of A Single Man was released in December of 2009, starring Colin Firth as George Falconer.


For the rest of his life, Christopher Isherwood lived with his partner Don Bachardy in Santa Monica, California. He died of prostate cancer in 1986 at the age of 81, after which, Bachardy's portraits (he had become a successful draughtsman and painter) of his dying partner became famous.


Quote Of The Day

"The Nazis hated culture itself, because it is essentially international and therefore subversive of nationalism. What they called Nazi culture was a local, perverted, nationalistic cult, by which a few major artists and many minor ones were honored for their Germanness, not their talent." - Christopher Isherwood


Vanguard Video

Today's video features a 1969 BBC TV documentary on Christopher Isherwood. Enjoy!


Monday, August 25, 2014

IWW Members' Publishing Successes



Barbara Johnson

A review of my novel, Accused? Guilty on Political Truth Serum.  (Monday, August 18, 2014)

Jeannette de Beauvoir

St. Martin's will be publishing my novel, Asylum, in early 2015. I'm over the moon about the cover.

Theresa A. Cancro

My poem, “Glower Scrapings,” published on Napalm and Novocain, Sunday, August 17th.


Two poems – “Berceuse In Terra,” and “Spring Burgeons,” up at Jellyfish Whispers.


Friday, August 22, 2014

Notes For August 22nd, 2014


This Day In Writing History

On August 22nd, 1893, the legendary American writer Dorothy Parker was born. She was born Dorothy Rothschild in Long Branch, New Jersey.

Her mother, Eliza Marston, was Scottish; her German Jewish father, Jacob Henry Rothschild, was not related to the wealthy Rothschild banking family.

Dorothy would famously quip, "My God, no, dear! We'd never even heard of those Rothschilds." Born two months premature, she would quip that her birth was the first time she was early for anything.

A month before Dorothy's fifth birthday, her mother died. She hated her father because he was physically abusive, and when he later married a woman named Eleanor Lewis, Dorothy referred to her as "the housekeeper."

As a little girl, Dorothy attended the Convent of the Blessed Sacrament Catholic elementary school along with her sister Helen - despite the fact that both girls were the daughters of a Jewish father and Protestant mother.

Dorothy would be expelled from the school for referring to the Immaculate Conception as "spontaneous combustion." She later attended a finishing school for young ladies in Morristown, New Jersey.

In 1913, when Dorothy was twenty years old, her father died. She supported herself by playing piano at a dancing school and took up writing poetry in her spare time.

Best known as a poet, Dorothy began her career as a magazine writer in 1914 when Vogue hired her as an editorial assistant after one of her poems appeared in its sister magazine, Vanity Fair.

In 1917, Dorothy married her first husband, Edwin Pond Parker, and she would use her first married name, Dorothy Parker, as her professional name. She divorced Edwin in 1928.

After working at Vogue for two years, Dorothy was transferred to Vanity Fair to work as a staff writer. By 1918, she had become the magazine's guest drama critic, filling in for the vacationing P.G. Wodehouse.

It was in this capacity that Dorothy Parker began developing the rapacious wit that would make her famous. Her reviews were often brutal. She offered this advice to potential audiences of one particular musical comedy: "If you don't knit, bring a book."

She reviewed a production of Leo Tolstoy's Redemption by saying, "I went into the Plymouth Theater a comparatively young woman, and I staggered out of it three hours later, twenty years older."

Infuriated by Dorothy's scathing reviews of their plays, the wealthy, powerful producers flexed their considerable muscle to get her fired. Her friends and fellow Vanity Fair writers, Robert Benchley and Robert E. Sherwood, resigned in protest.

Together, they formed the Algonquin Round Table, a famous group of New York City writers, actors, critics, and wits. Another founding member of the group was Harold Ross, who would found the New Yorker magazine in 1925.

Ross named Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley as members of the magazine's board of editors, which made his investors happy. Over the next fifteen years, Dorothy would reach her peak of productivity and success.

Her first poetry collection, Enough Rope, was published in 1926. It sold nearly 50,000 copies and received great reviews. The Nation newsmagazine described her poetry as "caked with a salty humor, rough with splinters of disillusion, and tarred with a bright black authenticity."

Within the next four years, she would publish over 300 poems in the New Yorker and many other national magazines. In addition to her poetry, she also wrote humorous pieces, essays, columns, and book reviews for the New Yorker. She also served as the magazine's drama critic for over five years.

Then she tired of drama - and of the drama her reviews created - and resigned as drama critic. She continued writing book reviews - under the byline Constant Reader - until 1933.

Dorothy Parker's writing talent and sparkling wit was noticed by Hollywood, and she became a screenwriter. Her husband at the time, Alan Campbell, was an actor and aspiring screenwriter.

In 1937, she co-wrote the hit film, A Star Is Born and earned an Academy Award nomination. Her political activism would eventually derail her Hollywood career.

She served as a correspondent for the communist magazine New Masses, reporting on the Spanish Civil War. In 1936, before her success with A Star Is Born, she founded the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League.

During the McCarthy era of the 1950s, Dorothy protested the government's relentless and mostly illegal persecution of suspected communists and communist sympathizers.

She never joined the Communist Party, but she did declare herself a sympathizer. The FBI deemed her a subversive and compiled a dossier on her that would reach 1,000 pages in length.

Dorothy Parker was never charged with a crime, but her former Hollywood studio bosses blacklisted her for years. In 1957, she moved back to New York City and served as a book reviewer for Esquire magazine for the next five years.

Dorothy died of a heart attack in June of 1967 at the age of 73. She left her estate to Martin Luther King, Jr. After his assassination, it was passed on to the NAACP.

In 1988, the NAACP interred Dorothy's ashes in a memorial garden outside its Baltimore headquarters. The plaque in the garden reads as follows:

Here lies the ashes of Dorothy Parker (1893–1967) humorist, writer, critic. Defender of human and civil rights. For her epitaph she suggested, 'Excuse my dust'. This memorial garden is dedicated to her noble spirit which celebrated the oneness of humankind and to the bonds of everlasting friendship between black and Jewish people. Dedicated by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. October 28, 1988

Four years later, to celebrate Dorothy's 99th birthday, the United States Postal Service honored her with a commemorative postage stamp.


Quote Of The Day

"Writing is the art of applying the ass to the seat." - Dorothy Parker


Vanguard Video

Today's video features Dorothy Parker reading her classic poem, Inscription for the Ceiling of a Bedroom. Enjoy!

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