Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Favorite Dorothy Parker Quotes

by Ellen Meister

"I hate writing, I love having written."

That quote comes from Dorothy Parker, one of America's greatest wits. And while I understand exactly what she meant (writing is often an exercise in compressed angst, after all) I'm a little too ambivalent to get on board. Writing gives me enough moments of exquisite rapture to love it at least as much as I hate it.

But today I want to talk to you about a byproduct of my writing that's brought me joy, my Dorothy Parker Facebook page. Several years ago, when I was just beginning to write Farewell, Dorothy Parker (a novel that resurrects the great wit's ghost), I started the page as a lark. I was just curious to see how easy it would be to find fellow Dorothy Parker fans online. I thought it might be fun if I connected with as many as a few hundred like-minded souls.

Little did I know that within a few years the page would have over 100,000 followers. I'm still awestruck.

But here's the most surprising part: running the page is a blast. The followers are smart, challenging, funny and completely engaged. In honor of that, I'm going to share with you some of  the followers' favorite Dorothy Parker quotes ...

"The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue."

When a certain garrulous woman was described to Dorothy Parker as "outspoken," she replied, "Outspoken by whom?"

Asked to use the word "horticulture" in a sentence, Dorothy Parker replied, "You can lead a horticulture but you can't make her think."

"Heterosexuality is not normal, it's just common."

“Take me or leave me; or, as is the usual order of things, both.”

 "Don't look at me in that tone of voice."

 "Brevity is the soul of lingerie."

 On an unwanted pregnancy: "It serves me right for putting all my eggs in one bastard."

 "If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn't be a bit surprised."

 "I was always sweet, at first. Oh, it's so easy to be sweet to people before you love them."

When told Calvin Coolidge had died, Dorothy Parker remarked, "How can they tell?"

 "Salary is no object: I want only enough to keep body and soul apart."

 "Ducking for apples -- change one letter and it's the story of my life."

 “If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.”

If you have a favorite Dorothy Parker quote, please share it below. And if you're not a follower of the Facebook page, what are you waiting for?
Ellen Meister is the author of four novels, including Farewell, Dorothy Parker and The Other Life. She teaches creative writing at Hofstra University Continuing Education, and is working on a follow-up novel about the ghost of Dorothy Parker. For more information visit her website at ellenmeister.com.


  1. Go, Ellen. Enter fun! I had no idea your page had that many followers...it's fabulous. Am hoping your book continues to soar.

  2. Love this, Ellen! My favorite quote is the one up top: I hate writing, I love having written.

  3. I love writing quotes, and Dorothy Parker gave us some of the best ones. I love the "having written" one. :)