was born in 1893 in rural Wisconsin, into desperate poverty. At the age of 14, her mother died and her father kicked her out of the house. She worked as a hired girl, completing high school with the help of an aunt. Her journalism career began at the Battle Creek Journal, in 1913, writing for the women’s page. At the Minneapolis Tribune, starting in 1917, Hickok became known for the humor and humanity of her writing. She eventually became a top reporter for the Associated Press, in NY. By 1932, she was the nation's best-known woman journalist. She and Eleanor Roosevelt (ER) fell in love when Hickok was assigned to cover the future First Lady during the 1932 Presidential campaign.
After FDR became President, Hickok had to leave journalism, as her close proximity to the President compromised her. She was chief investigator for the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA), reporting on the suffering of the Great Depression, and the effects of the New Deal. Her reports were posthumously published as a book, One-Third of a Nation. Hickok’s writing for FERA is considered an invaluable description of the Great Depression.
Hickok inspired several of Eleanor Roosevelt's initiatives, including her daily syndicated column, her all-women press conferences, and her planned community at Arthurdale, West Virginia. She vacationed with ER, and Eleanor went with her on an investigative trip to Puerto Rico. When not on the road, Hickok lived at the White House.
From 1936 to 1939, Hickok worked as publicist for the New York World’s Fair. During this time, the relationship between Hickok and Mrs. Roosevelt evolved from a love affair into a deep friendship that lasted Mrs. Roosevelt’s life. From 1940 to 1945, Hickok worked for the Democratic National Committee, living at the White House for most of this time.
Hickok had several love relationships with other women after Mrs. Roosevelt – most importantly with Marion Harron, a tax court judge in Maryland. But since the First Lady remained her first priority, none of the relationships lasted.
Hickok lived out her final years at Hyde Park near Mrs. Roosevelt. She published several books, including biographies of Helen Keller and Mrs. Roosevelt herself. She died in 1968. Her feature stories are still studied in journalism schools, as examples of entertaining and heartfelt writing.