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A warm, intimate account of the love between Eleanor Roosevelt and reporter Lorena Hickok - a relationship that, over more than three decades, transformed both women's lives and empowered them to play significant roles in one of the most tumultuous periods in American history

In 1932, as her husband assumed the presidency, Eleanor Roosevelt entered the claustrophobic, duty-bound existence of the First Lady with dread. By that time, she had put her deep disappointment in her marriage behind her and developed an independent life - now threatened by the public role she would be forced to play. A lifeline came to her in the form of a feisty campaign reporter for the Associated Press: Lorena Hickok. Over the next thirty years, until Eleanor's death, the two women carried on an extraordinary relationship: They were, at different points, lovers, confidantes, professional advisors, and caring friends.

They couldn't have been more different. Eleanor had been raised in one of the nation's most powerful political families and was introduced to society as a debutante before marrying her distant cousin, Franklin. Hick, as she was known, had grown up poor in rural South Dakota and worked as a servant girl after she escaped an abusive home, eventually becoming one of the most respected reporters at the AP. Her admiration drew the buttoned-up Eleanor out of her shell, and the two quickly fell in love. For the next thirteen years, Hick had her own room at the White House, next door to the First Lady.

These fiercely compassionate women inspired each other to right the wrongs of the turbulent era in which they lived. During the Depression, Hick reported from the nation's poorest areas for the WPA, and Eleanor used these reports to lobby her husband for New Deal programs. Hick encouraged Eleanor to turn their frequent letters into her popular and long-lasting syndicated column "My Day," and to befriend the female journalists who became her champions. When Eleanor's tenure as First Lady ended with FDR's death, Hick pushed her to continue to use her popularity for good - advice Eleanor took by leading the UN's postwar Human Rights Commission. At every turn, the bond these women shared was grounded in their determination to better their troubled world.

Deeply researched and told with great warmth, Eleanor and Hick is a vivid portrait of love and a revealing look at how an unlikely romance influenced some of the most consequential years in American history.

About the Author

Susan Quinn

I spent most of my childhood in a southern Ohio mill town called Chillicothe, where my father was an ophthalmologist. My mother was a writer herself: although self-effacing in real life she had a devil-may-care style on the page that still emboldens me. I was an English major at Oberlin, but I learned most in college from my work on the newspaper, in the theater and living slightly outside the rules at the Coop.

While working in the professional theater in Cleveland, I met a medical student who told me that the most important thing in life is to be happy. This idea so astounded me that I went on to marry Daniel Jacobs, who became a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst.

Like Lorena Hickok, whose story I tell in Eleanor and Hick, I started my writing career as a newspaper reporter - going out to do whatever absurd assignment my editor thought up, first in Cleveland and later in Boston. Sometimes - as when I followed a regular customer around the 'combat zone' for an alternative weekly called the Real Paper - it meant taking risks to get the story. I later won magazine awards for a story in which I posed as a homebuyer to compare home inspectors and another about a secret rendez-vous in Moscow with the sister of a Russian émigré.

My several women's groups, where others were struggling as I was to find a voice, helped me to make the leap from magazine journalism to my first book: the biography of a strong and original woman, a psychoanalyst named Karen Horney. A Mind of Her Own: The Life of Karen Horney won the Boston Globe Winship award and led to support for my next project. Grants from the Rockefeller and Guggenheim Foundations allowed me to do research in Poland and France for a biography of Marie Curie, which has now been translated into many languages. A subsequent book, Furious Improvisation: How the WPA and a Cast of Thousands Made High Art Out of Desperate Times, focused on government-sponsored theater during the Great Depression. But it too celebrated a strong woman, Hallie Flanagan, the embattled director of the Federal Theatre Project.

My current book, Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair That Shaped A First Lady, presented a new kind of writing challenge. For the first time, I had to tell the story of two intertwining lives. Because my daughter is gay, I felt a special connection to this story of love between women. Also, I felt immediate sympathy for Lorena Hickok, the AP journalist universally known as "Hick." She was a reporter, as I had been. She came from the Midwest, as I did. I was moved by the story of Hick's triumph over an unspeakably cruel childhood, and impressed by her remarkable success in what was then an oppressively male world of journalism.

In one of her thousands of letters to Eleanor Roosevelt, Hick wrote of her attempt to distinguish between her feelings about the "person" she knew and loved and the "personage" known and

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