The Peculiar Disappearance of Dorothy Arnold
The beautiful New York socialite and heiress who vanished in broad daylight
Manhattan of 1910 was every bit the busy and bustling city it is today. It is difficult to conceive that a beautiful, quasi-famous, woman could vanish amid a New York City crowd in broad daylight. But on December 12, 1910, Dorothy Arnold did precisely that.
Dorothy Harriet Camille Arnold was born July 1, 1886, In New York, New York, to parents Francis Rose and Mary Parks Arnold. Her father was a Harvard graduate who became a senior partner of F.R. Arnold and Co, perfume, and cologne imports. The Arnolds were fabulously wealthy and proud descendants of Mayflower passenger, William Brewster. The Arnolds were listed in the New York City Social Register and enjoyed a privileged existence in the Big Apple.
Dorothy, the eldest daughter, received her primary education at Veltin School for Girls and went to college at Bryn Mawr College, where she obtained a degree in literature and language. Dorothy’s greatest dream was to become a writer. When she graduated in 1905, Dorothy moved back to her parent’s home in New York at 108 E 79th Street, though her parents were less than supportive of her ambitions as a writer.
In the spring of 1910, Dorothy submitted a short story to McClure’s Magazine. Sadly, McClure’s rejected her work. As if aspiring women writers weren’t hard enough on themselves, Dorothy’s family and friends ridiculed her. Dorothy wouldn’t be dissuaded so quickly. She set up a PO box to secretly correspond with publishers and avoid her family’s teasing.
Dorothy asked her father if she could get an apartment in Greenwich Village so she could concentrate on improving her writing, but he dismissed the idea. “A good writer can write anywhere.” he would say.
That fall, Dorothy submitted a second story to McClure’s, and in short order, received another rejection letter. Dorothy was heartbroken. She ended up sharing this news with her family, and once again, was met with teasing and bullying.