The love and life of Lorena Hickok
Though Lorena Hickok’s name is always connected to former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Hick– as she was called– was considered one of the most prominent female reporters of her time.
Despite her lack of college background, by 1932 she had become “the best known female reporter in the nation.”
Still, history had other plans for her. By choice or by fate, she had become known as the secret lover of Roosevelt, with their friendship and romance spanning 30 years– or almost half of their lives.
Lorena Hickok: Empty without you
Evidence of this can be found in the correspondence between Lorena and Eleanor that the two kept throughout the relationship.
There were 2,336 letters from Eleanor and 1,024 from Lorena in the correspondence.
These letters became part of the First Lady’s estate that later was donated to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential and Library Museum ten years after Eleanor’s death.
Lorena Hickok: Breaking barriers
But before her encounter with Eleanor, Lorena was already blazing a path on her own.
Due to an abusive family life in Wisconsin, Lorena left home and worked as a maid for several families. However, it was only when she moved in with her cousin that she was able to finish high school.
She tried to go to college but quit and took on a job at a small-town newspaper. She worked with different broadsheets and beats until she managed to become a prominent journalist on her own accord.
One biographical sketch described her this way: “Quickly making a name for herself by covering politics and dramatic stories like the Lindbergh baby kidnapping, Hickok surpassed her male colleagues and won the coveted right to have her name appear as a by-line atop her articles.”
Lorena Hickok: Life with the First Lady
Lorena had been in lesbian relationships prior to Eleanor but she had never married.
Then the two met in 1928 when Lorena first interviewed Eleanor. In 1932, the journalist sold the idea to her editors of covering Eleanor while on her husband’s presidential campaign trail.
It was during this time that the two developed a close friendship. They would spend most of their days together. During FDR’s inauguration, Eleanor wore the sapphire ring given by Lorena.
The two would often travel together, or visit the opera and theatre. Sometimes Lorena would have dinner with the Roosevelts on Sundays.
Though each would be influential in their roles in American history, the two motivated each other on the major decisions that would shape their lives.
When Eleanor Roosevelt died in 1962, Lorena Hickok followed her in 1968.