Witty & Wise Dorothy Parker Quotes & Verses

Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker (1893 – 1967) was American journalist, short story writer, and poet. She’s best remembered for her trenchant wisecracking and wit, which she used to great effect in her reviews, nonfiction, and verse. She was also one of the founding members of the Algonquin Roundtable, an exclusive group of New York City literati. Here’s you’ll find a sampling of quotes by Dorothy Parker that show off her wit and wisdom.

Parker got her start in magazine writing, including theatre criticism for Vanity Fair. In the 1920s, she became known for her book review column, “Constant Reader,” in the New YorkerHer reviews — some snarky, others sensitive, always pithy — were a pleasure to read. The magazine also published some of her short stories.

“Big Blonde,” one of her most widely read short stories, won the O. Henry Award in 1929.  Other well-known works include the collections Enough Rope, Here Lies, and Laments for the Living. Many of the quotes and verses following come from these works as well as The Portable Dorothy Parker.

. . . . . . . . . .

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

. . . . . . . . . .

I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I’m under the table,
after four I’m under my host.

. . . . . . . . . .

“Creativity is a wild mind & a disciplined eye.”

. . . . . . . . . .

“Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bone.” 

. . . . . . . . . .

If I didn’t care for fun and such,
I’d probably amount to much.
But I shall stay the way I am,
Because I do not give a damn.

. . . . . . . . . .

Dorothy Parker biography
8 Short and Not-so-Sweet Verses by Dorothy Parker
. . . . . . . . . .

“I’ve never been a millionaire but I just know I’d be darling at it.”

. . . . . . . . . .

“I don’t care what is written about me so long as it isn’t true.” 

. . . . . . . . . .

Résumé

Razors pain you,
Rivers are damp,
Acids stain you,
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful,
Nooses give,
Gas smells awful.
You might as well live.

. . . . . . . . . .

“This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.” (on The Cardinal’s Mistress by Benito Mussolini)

. . . . . . . . . .

“I hate writing, I love having written.”

. . . . . . . . . .

Dorothy Parker on writing and revising

Learn more about Dorothy Parker

. . . . . . . . . .

“I can’t write five words but that I change seven.”

. . . . . . . . . .

“The last time I was early for anything.” (On being born prematurely)

. . . . . . . . . .

“If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.”

. . . . . . . . . .

“You can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think.” 

. . . . . . . . . .

“There’s a hell of a distance between wise-cracking and wit. Wit has truth in it; wise-cracking is simply calisthenics with words.”

. . . . . . . . . .

“I require three things in a man: he must be handsome, ruthless, and stupid.” 

. . . . . . . . . .

“I’m never going to accomplish anything; that’s perfectly clear to me. I’m never going to be famous. My name will never be writ large on the roster of Those Who Do Things. I don’t do anything. Not one single thing. I used to bite my nails, but I don’t even do that any more.”

. . . . . . . . . .

“Money cannot buy health, but I’d settle for a diamond-studded wheelchair.”

. . . . . . . . . .

“The two most beautiful words in the English language are ‘cheque enclosed.'”

. . . . . . . . . .

If wild my breast and sore my pride,
I bask in dreams of suicide,
If cool my heart and high my head
I think ‘How lucky are the dead.’

. . . . . . . . . .

“Ducking for apples — change one letter and it’s the story of my life.” 

. . . . . . . . . .

“It always seems impossible until it is done.”

. . . . . . . . . .

Men

They hail you as their morning star
Because you are the way you are.
If you return the sentiment,
They’ll try to make you different;
And once they have you, safe and sound,
They want to change you all around.
Your moods and ways they put a curse on;
They’d make of you another person.
They cannot let you go your gait;
They influence and educate.
They’d alter all that they admired.
They make me sick, they make me tired.

. . . . . . . . . .

“It’s a small apartment, I’ve barely enough room to lay my hat and a few friends.”

. . . . . . . . . .

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”

. . . . . . . . . .

“Heterosexuality is not normal, it’s just common.”

. . . . . . . . . .

Dorothy Parker

You might also like: Gems from Dorothy Parker’s Book Reviews

. . . . . . . . . .

What time the gifted lady took
Away from paper, pen, and book,
She spent in amorous dalliance
(They do those things so well in France). — on George Sand

. . . . . . . . . .

“Don’t look at me in that tone of voice.”

. . . . . . . . . .

“Women and elephants never forget.” 

. . . . . . . . . .

“What fresh hell is this?”

. . . . . . . . . .

By the time you swear you’re his,
Shivering and sighing.
And he vows his passion is,
Infinite, undying.
Lady make note of this —
One of you is lying.

. . . . . . . . . .

“Tell him I was too fucking busy — or visa versa.”

. . . . . . . . . .

“She was pleased to have him come and never sorry to see him go.” 

. . . . . . . . . .

“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.”

. . . . . . . . . .

Drink and dance and laugh and lie,
Love, the reeling midnight through,
For tomorrow we shall die!
(But, alas, we never do.)

. . . . . . . . . .

“Brevity is the soul of lingerie.”

. . . . . . . . . .

“I’d like to have money. And I’d like to be a good writer. These two can come together, and I hope they will, but if that’s too adorable, I’d rather have money.” 

. . . . . . . . . .

“That would be a good thing for them to cut on my tombstone: Wherever she went, including here, it was against her better judgment.”

. . . . . . . . . .

The Portable Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker page on Amazon
. . . . . . . . . .

In youth, it was a way I had,
To do my best to please.
And change, with every passing lad
To suit his theories.

But now I know the things I know
And do the things I do,
And if you do not like me so,
To hell, my love, with you. 

. . . . . . . . . .

“This wasn’t just plain terrible, this was fancy terrible. This was terrible with raisins in it.”

. . . . . . . . . .

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

. . . . . . . . . .

“That woman speaks eighteen languages, and can’t say ‘No’ in any of them.”

. . . . . . . . . .

Four be the things I am wiser to know:
Idleness, sorrow, a friend, and a foe.
Four be the things I’d been better without:
Love, curiosity, freckles, and doubt.
Three be the things I shall never attain:
Envy, content, and sufficient champagne.
Three be the things I shall have till I die:
Laughter and hope and a sock in the eye.

. . . . . . . . .

“Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves.”

. . . . . . . . . .

And if my heart be scarred and burned,
The safer, I, for all I learned.

. . . . . . . . . .

Symptom Recital

I do not like my state of mind;
I’m bitter, querulous, unkind.
I hate my legs, I hate my hands,
I do not yearn for lovelier lands.
I dread the dawn’s recurrent light;
I hate to go to bed at night.
I snoot at simple, earnest folk.
I cannot take the gentlest joke.
I find no peace in paint or type.
My world is but a lot of tripe.
I’m disillusioned, empty-breasted.
For what I think, I’d be arrested.
I am not sick, I am not well.
My quondam dreams are shot to hell.
My soul is crushed, my spirit sore;
I do not like me any more.
I cavil, quarrel, grumble, grouse.
I ponder on the narrow house.
I shudder at the thought of men….
I’m due to fall in love again.

. . . . . . . . . .

“It serves me right for putting all my eggs in one bastard.”

. . . . . . . . . .

“A hangover is the wrath of grapes.” 

. . . . . . . . . .

*This post contains affiliate links. If the product is purchased by linking through this review, Literary Ladies Guide receives a modest commission, which helps maintain our site and helps it to continue growing!

2 Responses to “Witty & Wise Dorothy Parker Quotes & Verses”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to The Literary Ladies Guide weekly newsletter

Celebrating women’s voices
with inspiration for readers and writers

  • Find your next great read
  • Get writing advice from authors you love
  • Enjoy fascinating facts and quotes
  • Discover women’s literary history

... and lots more (look for a bonus in your welcome letter!)
Email address
Secure and Spam free...