Dorothy was born Dorothy Rothschild in 1893. Her first memory was watching then rain “when, without warning, my heart beat wild in my breast with pain.”
My first memory is David, The Gnome, probably.
Then, in 1915, Dorothy went to work at Vogue. This was a time when a maid was still situated in the Vogue offices to arrange flowers. Dorothy worked for Edna Chase, who once expressed shock when one of the Vogue editors tried to kill herself by jumping in front of a subway train. Edna claimed said that was vulgar, and that if Vogue editors had to kill themselves, they should take sleeping pills.
She was not joking.
Dorothy began making fun of the magazine almost immediately. Her job consisted of fact checking, copy editing, and writing photo captions.
Dorothy soon shocked the magazine by captioning photos with quips like “There once was a little girl who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead. When she was good she was very, very good, and when she was bad she wore this divine nightdress of rose-colored mousseline de soie, trimmed with frothy Valenciennes lace.”
Oh, Dorothy! The subversive captions often made it past the copy desk and it was only later that someone noticed that Dorothy was alluding to the fact that the Vogue reader might be having sex.
Fortunately, the Vogue offices were located on the same floor as Vanity Fair. Dorothy began writing free verse, which she dropped off on editor Frank Crowninshield’s desk (Crowninshield was referred to as “the most cultivated, elegant, and endearing man in publishing, if not Manhattan” – so kind of like a much hotter Graydon Carter).
She finally managed to impress him with an effort called “Women: A Hate Song” which begins: