I’ve taken poetic license in Mrs. Parker Mysteries more than few times. I have tried to be historically accurate—dates and times when my real-life characters were roaming the streets, theaters and speakeasies of Manhattan during the 1920s. I’ve taken a few liberties, which will, no doubt raise the proverbial red flags before the eyes of the purists and Round Table devotees. For instance, Dorothy Parker’s rooms at the Algonquin did not face the 44th Street front entrance of the hotel as I have placed it, but toward the back of the building, overlooking the rear facades of those along the south side of 45th Street. So it is, too, with Robert Benchley’s rooms at the Royalton, the bachelor residence directly across the street from the Algonquin. His rooms were at the rear, not facing 44th Street. He kept those rooms for 16 years, but for some time lived on Madison Avenue with Charles MacArthur, as well as at the Algonquin. He did not take the Royalton rooms until 1929. Aleck Woollcott did share a residence on West 47th street with Jane Grant and Harold Ross, but that situation only lasted a few years. He bought an apartment on 52nd Street facing the East River, dubbed “Wit’s End” by Dottie Parker.
And for the sake of action, I have occasionally placed an alleyway where there never was one, a church, a theater; that sort of thing. Pete Hamill, don’t hate me.
Officer Joe Woollcott of the NYPD is a figment of my imagination. But it is likely that Aleck would have had such a down to earth cousin. Aleck was a family anomaly.
At different times throughout the 1920s, Alexander Woollcott, Robert Benchley, Heywood Broun, Marc Connolly, and Robert Sherwood wrote for, or were editors of, many different publications. To avoid confusion, and finding the changes in employment of no consequence to the storylines of my books, I have kept them on the staffs of only one or two papers or magazines.
Woodrow Wilson, our lovable Boston terrier, was one of a long line of dogs embraced by Dorothy Parker. There was Robinson, a dachshund, and a poodle named, Cliché, but, I chose Woodrow, and have kept him alive years longer than was actually the case.
I don’t know how to tell you this, but I’ll just spit it out: Only Harpo was a regular with this crowd. Sometimes Chico, more often, Zeppo. Groucho, very rarely. You can’t have just one Marx Brother, you have to have them all. They were just as crazy off-stage as on. They are all in my books.
I do not refer to Dorothy Parker’s real-life romantic attachments, nor include those gentlemen in any of my stories, except for her husband, Eddie, and he is mentioned only to give the reader an understanding of her circumstances and the effects of World War I on her life and times.
I have encountered many conflicting accounts of events involving my leading characters from many sources while researching their lives. It usually has to do with who said/did what to whom, and as these biographers/sources are sincere and unquestionably creditable, and as most of the stories in question are hearsay, second or third generation accounts that these sources are recounting, and might not even have happened, these differences are of little import, really, so forgive me my trespasses, please. First-hand accounts might have been embellished to enhance entertainment effect. (i.e. Hemingway credited himself with a clever line that was quipped by a bystander, but it was good enough to claim as his own). As nearly a century has passed, these retold events might be assigned to folklore—Was Richard III really such a monster, murdering the princes in the Tower? Some say, yes, some say, lies, all! I wasn’t there, you weren’t there, so we’ll never know for sure what really went down.