Dorothy Parker's Birthplace
A National Literary Landmark on Jersey Shore
Dorothy Parker Day 2005 | Dorothy Parker Day 2007
Dorothy Parker was born at her family's beach cottage on Aug. 22, 1893, in West End, a village in Long Branch (Monmouth County), some sixty miles south of New York City. Her parents, Henry and Eliza Rothschild, were middle-class residents of Manhattan who vacationed in the charming seaside town. The former location of the cottage is 732 Ocean Avenue, Long Branch. [Google Maps link]. The house is long gone and apartments are in its place.
Parker, who died in 1967 in New York, was a bestselling poet and short story writer. She gained immortal fame as a member of The Algonquin Round Table, a collection of writers, playwrights, actors and wits who lunched at the Algonquin Hotel in the 1920s. Parker was also an Oscar-nominated screenwriter, a playwright, and the first female drama critic on Broadway. She also was a tireless fighter for social justice, civil rights and left-wing causes.
In her lifetime, Parker never disparaged or spoke ill of Long Branch. In a January 1928 essay in McCall's titled My Hometown, she says that she isn't a natural-born New Yorker. "You see, I have always lived in New York," she wrote. "I was cheated out of the distinction of being a native New Yorker, because I had to go and get born while the family was spending the Summer in New Jersey, but, honestly, we came back into town right after Labor Day, so I nearly made the grade."
The greatest achievement of the Dorothy Parker Society was when Friends of Libraries U.S.A. announced that the birthplace of Dorothy Parker would be added to the organization's roster of Literary Landmarks. On Sunday, Aug. 21, 2005, the landmark was dedicated in West End, New Jersey, the birthplace of the world-renowned poet, writer and critic. It was the first FOLUSA Literary Landmark for an author's birthplace in the State of New Jersey.
The plaque dedication was the highlight of a day-long schedule of events in the village to mark the debut of Dorothy Parker Day (story here; photos here). The Long Branch Free Public Library presented Parker's life and work, a "round table luncheon" helped channel her spirit, and a speakeasy party toasted her wit and charm. In the evening live jazz was performed outdoors at the West End public park.
Dorothy Parker Day was repeated in 2007 (story here; photos here); it was expanded with a dog parade past Parker's birthplace.
The schedule for future Dorothy Parker Day events will be in October, held the first Sunday after Columbus Day. If you want to attend future Dorothy Parker Day events, just signup for the newsletter.