April 27, 2017

"What Fresh Hell Is This?"

The title is one of my favourite quotes from the late, great writer and poet, Dorothy Parker. As part of my #ThisIsBaltimore2017 quest, I decided to go find her grave. And yes, she is interred here in Baltimore!

In her will, she specified that her ashes, and her estate be given to Martin Luther Kings, and if he was deceased, to the NAACP, which is headquartered here in Baltimore. Lillian Hellman was the executor of her estate, and thought that Dorothy should have left her literary rights to her, and so after Parker's death, she really held up publishing permissions. 

And the ashes remained in a drawer of a filing cabinet for 15 years after Parker's death. A small site in the back of the HQ building was cleared and a circle of bricks and stones was laid, in homage to the famed Algonquin Roundtable. 

I knew some of this, so decided to go find the grave. I was very disappointed to find it in the back of the building, with broken cement benches scattered around, a tipped over plant laying on top of the plaque and the whole site in general disrepair. If I had a broom with me, I would have cleaned it up a bit, but alas...

The NAACP is her literary agent, and I am sure they get a significant sum from acting as such. The least they could do is care for Dorothy Parker's final resting place. 


  1. Are you on twitter?.....if so, try posting with accompanying hashtags and @'s....like NAACP, #DorothyParker...etc etc.
    It may get the right persons attention. Thanks for posting....k

  2. Very sad. She was one of the greats. My favourite Dorothy Parker quote is "If all the young women at this party were laid end-to-end.....I wouldn't be at all surprised".
    CLICK HERE for Bazza’s blatherskite Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

  3. This is very sad. I am happy that you found her but wish that she was in a a better place.

  4. She was an amazing person. I never knew she was so socially committed but I love her more now. And I LOVE "what fresh hell is this" and I'm pretty damn fond of "age before beauty, pearls before swine. "I hope someone sweeps up that mess. I suspect she'd have a very good withering comment to make about it.

  5. Hello Meg, Parker's entire life was ironical, so it seems natural that her death and resting place would be too. Isn't there an important cemetery to which her remains could be moved? So many people more could honor her, and the back of an office building seems inappropriate and below her dignity.

  6. My favourite:
    “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.”

  7. A true individual! Always admired her bold, intelligent nature. She deserves to have an honorable resting place that is well tended. Thank you for remembering her.

  8. That is a shame about her grave being where/how it is. As a long time cemetery photographer, I have swept off and straightened headstones, removed litter, and tried to help keep complete strangers' gravesites nice. Vandalism of graveyards is one of my pet peeves. The utter disregard for Ms. Parker's resting place does need to be addressed! Glad you sought her out.

  9. Also - The Bloggess has a dog named Dorothy Barker, in honor of the poet. Just thought that was awesome...

  10. My friend who worked at NAACP said it looks like a manhole cover. And that they get about $80k in royalties a year.

  11. Have you listened to the History Chicks' Podcasts on Dorothy Parker?
    Very interesting.


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