For years, I have heard rumors that Eleanor Roosevelt carried on a lesbian relationship. I think there’s even a rather crude joke about it on HBO’s “Veep.” But I had no idea there was written evidence until I received Susan Quinn’s book from Penguin Press, titled Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair That Shaped a First Lady.
It turns out, thousands of letters seem to buttress the case that a passionate relationship with AP journalist Lorena Hickok did, in fact, take place.
So how is it that this was kept under wraps for so long? It turns out that Eleanor Roosevelt gave the letters to the Roosevelt Library — to be opened 10 years after her death. “But,” Quinn told me recently, “the woman who opened them was a journalist named Doris Faber, who was absolutely shocked and appalled. [And Faber] asked, ‘Can any reasonable person deny that these are love letters?’ And she asked the librarians at the FDR Library to lock them back up.”
I asked Quinn if Faber was personally repelled, or was she simply trying to preserve Roosevelt’s reputation as a historical figure and a progressive icon.
“I think she was probably much more concerned about Eleanor Roosevelt’s reputation and her dignity, which was very important to people back then.”
You can listen to streaming audio of our conversation here and download the podcast on iTunes.