HICK: A Love Story
Eleanor Roosevelt (ER) wrote 2336 letters to Lorena Hickok, the most famous woman journalist of her day. The romance between the patrician First Lady and the charming, hard-living butch reporter changed both their lives. Their friendship only ended with ER’s death, 30 years later.
When HICK: A Love Story opened in San Francisco in July 2014, few people had ever heard of Eleanor Roosevelt’s “First Friend,” as Lorena Hickok was labeled by the press. That changed in October with Ken Burns’ television documentary, “The Roosevelts.” Burns acknowledged their friendship but ignored the evidence in their letters of a lesbian relationship. Terry Baum says, “Why would Eleanor write ‘I ache to hold you close’ if they weren’t lovers? I love my women friends, but I’ve never ached to hold them close!” Baum, a pioneer lesbian playwright, has toured internationally as a solo performer. She read everything published by and about Hick, interviewed people who knew her, and pored over original documents in files at the FDR Library in Hyde Park, NY in order to reconstruct the truth of the relationship.
San Francisco playwright and actor Terry Baum gathered quite a bit of information while researching a play entitled “HICK: A Love Story — the Romance of Lenora Hickock & Eleanor Roosevelt.” Baum plans to discuss Roosevelt’s 30-year relationship with the famous reporter Hickok, aka “Hick” — including evidence that the pair carried on a lesbian affair early on in their friendship.
“Hick,” who holds the distinction of having the New York Times’ first byline by a woman on the front page, met Roosevelt during Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Presidential campaign in 1932. While there is disagreement among historians about the nature of their relationship, Baum says there is evidence the two shared a love affair for several years and would remain friends and partners in activism.
From 1933 to 1962, the First Lady wrote at least 2,336 letters to Hick (and that’s only the ones that survived), which Baum read through at the FDR Library in Hyde Park, NY. The letters, Baum says, “document a passionate lesbian relationship between them in the early years of their friendship.” In later years, “Hick helped Mrs. Roosevelt become an outspoken, media-savvy activist for democracy and human rights —
one of the greatest women of the 20th century.”