Poet and short story writer Dorothy Parker was born in New Jersey. When she was 5, her mother died and her father, a clothes salesman, remarried. Parker had a great antipathy toward her stepmother and refused to speak to her. She attended parochial school and Miss Dana's school in Morristown, New Jersey for a brief time before dropping out at age 14. A voracious reader, she decided to pursue a career in literature. She began her career by writing verse as well as captions for a fashion magazine. During the years of her greatest fame, Dorothy Parker was known primarily as a writer of light verse, an essential member of the Algonquin Round Table, and a caustic and witty critic of literature and society. She is remembered now as an almost legendary figure of the 1920s and 1930s. Her reviews and staff contributions to three of the most sophisticated magazines of this century, Vanity Fair, the New Yorker, and Esquire, were notable for their put-downs; and many of the most famous bright remarks of the time were attributed to her---only some of them justly so. For all her highbrow wit, however, Dorothy Parker was liberal, even radical, in her political views, and the hard veneer of brittle toughness that she showed to the world was often a shield for frustrated idealism and soft sensibilities. The best of her fiction is marked by a balance of ironic detachment and sympathetic compassion, as in "Big Blonde," which won the O. Henry Award for 1929 and is still her best-remembered and most frequently anthologized story. Parker was twice married, once to Sinclair Lewis. Her private life did not mirror her public one. Besides her failed marriages, she had a number of unhappy love affairs and one-night stands. There were also abortive suicide attempts, abortions, and great bouts of drinking. She died alone in her New York apartment. The best of Dorothy Parker is readily and compactly accessible in The Portable Dorothy Parker. Her own selection of stories and verse for the original edition of that compilation, published in 1944, remains intact in the revised edition, but included also are additional stories, reviews, and articles.