Empty Without You

Empty Without You : The Intimate Letters of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok

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In 1978, more than 3,500 letters written over a thirty-year friendship between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok were discovered by archivists. Although the most explicit letters had been burned (Lorena told Eleanor's daughter, "Your mother wasn't always so very discreet in her letters to me"), the find was still electrifying enough to create controversy about the nature of the women's relationship. Historian Rodger Streitmatter has transcribed and annotated more than 300 of those letters,published here for the first time,and put them within the context of the lives of these two extraordinary women, allowing us to understand the role of this remarkable friendship in Roosevelt's transformation into a crusading First Lady.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 344 pages
  • 148.6 x 214.1 x 18.5mm | 358.34g
  • The Perseus Books Group
  • Da Capo Press Inc
  • Cambridge, MA, United States
  • English
  • Annotated
  • b&w illustrations, annotations
  • 0306809982
  • 9780306809989
  • 317,687

About Rodger Streitmatter

Rodger Streitmatter is a professor of communications at American University. A former reporter for the Roanoke (Virginia) Times & World News, he is the author of five previous books. He lives in Washington, D.C.show more

Review Text

At last, a firsthand look at the emotionally charged correspondence between Eleanor Roosevelt and "first friend" Lorena Hickok, believed by many to be the First Lady's lover. Streitmatter (Journalism/American Univ.; Mightier Than the Sword, 1997) has collected and annotated more than 300 of the perhaps more than 3,500 letters exchanged by Roosevelt and Hickok between 1933 and 1962, when ER, as she signed herself, died. The letters document that the relationship was not only "intense and intimate, but also passionate and physical," notes the editor. Hickok destroyed many letters, explaining that the First Lady "wasn't always so very discreet in her letters to me." Hickok (a.k.a. Hick) was a talented and successful reporter for the Associated Press, assigned to cover Franklin Roosevelt's 1932 campaign 'for president. As she also began writing stories about Eleanor, the two grew close. When the First Lady moved into the White House, she began writing Hickok daily, and sometimes twice a day, often beginning "Hick darling" and concluding with words of longing: "t would give a good deal to put my arms around you and to fee/yours around me." Hick's responses were less effusive, but still affectionate. She also advised the First Lady on how to put her stamp on the White House role, suggesting press conferences and the "My Day" column, and urging her to make the famous coal mine visit. As public and family demands on Eleanor accelerated, her relationship with Hick became more distant. But she remained loyal in Hick's difficult later years, offering her financial and emotional support. No graphic descriptions of sexual play, but the cumulative power of these ardent letters makes it hard to believe that Eleanor and Hick's relationship was "entirely asexual," as one of the Roosevelt granddaughters insists. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

239 ratings
3.89 out of 5 stars
5 30% (72)
4 37% (89)
3 26% (61)
2 7% (16)
1 0% (1)
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