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Lecture

Susan Quinn, Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair That Shaped a First Lady

- Fully Registered

Thursday, March 23, 2017 - 6:30 PM
| Open to the Public | Members' Room | $15 per person | Advance registration required

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.

These fiercely compassionate women inspired each other to right the wrongs of their turbulent era. 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. 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. Eleanor and Hick has been called “an intimate book, tender and wise” by the Washington Post and “relentlessly captivating” by Kirkus Reviews.

Susan Quinn is the author of Furious Improvisation: How the WPA and a Cast of Thousands Made High Art Out of Desperate Times and Marie Curie: A Life, among other books. Her work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Atlantic, and other publications. She is the former president of PEN New England and lives outside of Boston, Massachusetts.

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