The Great Gatsby is a classic American novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald and first published in 1925 during the height of the Roaring Twenties in America. The book became enormously successful.
At the time of The Great Gatsby’s release, Dorothy Parker, founding member of the Algonquin Round Table, was thirty-two years old, living and working in New York City, collaborating with George S. Kaufman on the movie script “Business Is Business” and contemplating her second suicide attempt.
The main character in The Great Gatsby is Jay Gatsby, a WWI veteran who desired to be reunited with Daisy Buchannan, the love he lost five years prior. Coincidentally, Dorothy Rothschild Parker’s 1st husband, Edwin Pond Parker II was also a WWI veteran, whose heart was broken by his true love, Dottie. Edwin wanted his wife to move with him from New York to Connecticut. She decided a divorce was in order. She kept Parker’s name.
Dorothy Parker’s ‘best friend’ and nemesis, Playwright, Lillian Hellman, published memoirs in which she revealed that Dorothy and F. Scott Fitzgerald had had a brief affair. One will never know, beyond The Great Gatsby, which of Fitzgerald’s writings were ever influenced by his friend and former lover.
F. Scott Fitzgerald and Dorothy Rothschild Parker had much in common. Both were celebrated and prolific authors who were raised in wealthy families. They attended private Catholic schools (though Dorothy’s father Jacob Henry Rothschild was Jewish). The two had a passion for writing and enjoyed early successes. Both authors thrived financially through the Depression era of the 1930’s.
Dorothy and F. Scott also enjoyed drinking alcohol to excess. Dorothy joked that she once attended Alcoholics Anonymous, but they wanted her to stop drinking right then and there!
F. Scott and Dorothy each led turbulent personal lives. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife Zelda was diagnosed with Bi-polar disorder and was committed to a hospital that caught fire, resulting in her death. Dorothy Parker’s 2nd and 3rd husband Allan Campbell (they were married twice) was Bi-sexual and died in bed with her from an overdose of pills.
During their lifetimes, both Parker and Fitzgerald wrote for the Saturday Evening Post and Esquire. Both were screenwriters in Hollywood, though Dorothy was successful in this field (nominated for an Academy Award for co-scripting A Star Is Born), Fitzgerald was not.
Ironically, the central character in The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby went from poverty to wealth before death. While both Dorothy Parker and F. Scott Fitzgerald in their own lifetimes went from wealth and success to struggle before their deaths.
F. Scott Fitzgerald died of a heart attack in 1940 at the age of 44 in the middle of writing his final novel, “The Love of the Last Tycoon.” Dorothy Parker attended his funeral… Dorothy Parker also died of a heart attack in 1967 at the age of 73, in the midst of writing her autobiography, “The Events Leading Up to the Tragedy.” Both writers left behind their unfinished manuscripts. Though, Dorothy’s autobiography mysteriously disappeared after her death…
F. Scott Fitzgerald died believing he was a failure because none of his writings came close to the success of The Great Gatsby. Dorothy Parker died nearly penniless after being Blacklisted in Hollywood during the McCarthy Era Commie scare. Dorothy was once quoted as saying, “I’ll never accomplish anything. That’s perfectly clear to me.”
Dorothy Parker’s life and struggles have been captured in films, plays and the author’s one woman show titled, “Dorothy Parker’s Room Enough For Two.” F. Scott Fitzgerald’s life has also been depicted in films – with The Great Gatsby being made into several feature motion pictures including the most recent starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
The Great Gatsby has become required reading for most every High School student in America over the past several decades; making F. Scott Fitzgerald a household name. As for Dorothy Parker, sadly, many people today do not recognize who she is…