Wherever She Went, Including Here, It Was Against Her Better Judgment

Dorothy Parker? Apocryphal?

grave10Dear Quote Investigator: The notable wit Dorothy Parker was once asked to create an epitaph for her tombstone. Apparently, she crafted several different candidates for inscription over the years. I am interested in the following:

Wherever she went, including here, it was against her better judgment.

Did the coruscating Algonquin Round Table member compose this statement?

Quote Investigator: QI plans to examine at least five different epitaphs that have been ascribed to Dorothy Parker. Here is a link to a webpage that will have pointers to the five separate analyses when they are completed.

The expression given by the questioner above was published in a short story written by Parker that was published in “The New Yorker” magazine in 1929. Parker included herself as a character within her own story, and the Parker character recommended the inscription for her own gravestone. At the beginning of the tale, the character was expressing regret about her decision to attend a dinner party. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1

Oh, I should never have come, never. I’m here against my better judgment. Friday, at eight-thirty, Mrs. Parker vs. her better judgment, to a decision. That would be a good thing for them to cut on my tombstone: Wherever she went, including here, it was against her better judgment. This is a fine time of the evening to be thinking about tombstones.

Parker’s tone was humorous, and the statement was not inscribed on her actual grave marker.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

In 1937 a condensed version of the short story was published in the mass-circulation periodical “The Reader’s Digest”. The original title of the tale in “The New Yorker” was “But the One on the Right”, and when the work was reprinted in 1937 this rubric was slightly altered to yield “But the One on My Right”: 2

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

In 2012 the diligent quotation collector Robert Byrne included the expression in his compendium “The 2,548 Wittiest Things Anybody Ever Said”: 3

Wherever she went, including here, it was against her better judgment.
—What Dorothy Parker (1893–1967) suggested for her tombstone

In conclusion, Dorothy Parker did write this expression in a short story in 1929, and she made the jocular proposal that it appear on her tombstone. When Parker’s ashes were interred and a grave marker was dedicated in 1988 it did not include this statement.

Image Notes: Grave marker generated at tombstonebuilder website. Dorothy Parker picture from 1910 or early 1920s via Wikimedia Commons.

Notes:

  1. 1929 October 19, The New Yorker, But the One on the Right by Dorothy Parker, Start Page 25, Quote Page 25, The F-R. Publishing Corporation, New York. (Verified on microfilm)
  2. 1937 June, Reader’s Digest, But the One on My Right by Dorothy Parker (Condensed from The New Yorker), Start Page 72, Quote Page 72, Column 1, The Reader’s Digest Association. (Verified on paper)
  3. 2012, The 2,548 Wittiest Things Anybody Ever Said by Robert Byrne, Quote Page Unnumbered, Quote Number 1343, A Touchstone Book: Simon & Schuster, New York. (Google Books Preview)