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Arts & Culture

Eleanor In Love: An Intimate Portrait Of The 'First Lady Of The World'

Eleanor Roosevelt was a woman with a huge historical footprint—First Lady, first U.S. delegate to the United Nations General Assembly. She was dubbed “The First Lady of the World” by Harry Truman. 

But how much is known about Eleanor’s personal life beyond the politics and activism? This hour, we sit down with Connecticut author Amy Bloom. Her new book, White Houses, is a fictional novel that explores Eleanor’s real-life romantic relationship with female journalist Lorena Hickok.

We also speak with Blanche Wiesen Cook, a renowned historian and Eleanor Roosevelt biographer. We talk with her about why historians were so reluctant to acknowledge the love affair between the two prominent women.

And we hear from a historian of gender and sexuality—what did love between women look like in the early twentieth century? How did women who were attracted to other women navigate relationships in a society that barely registered the notion of female intimacy? 

Read an expert from White Houses here: 

Excerpted from White Houses by Amy Bloom. Copyright © 2018 by Amy Bloom. Published by Random House, an imprint and division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


  • Amy Bloom - New York Times best-selling author and former National Book Award nominee, based in Connecticut. Her new novel White Houses, released in February, is about Eleanor Roosevelt’s romantic relationship with journalist Lorena Hickok. Amy is the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing at Wesleyan University.
  • Blanche Wiesen Cook - Author of Eleanor Roosevelt: Volume 1, 2, and 3, and distinguished professor of history and women’s studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Graduate Center, CUNY
  • Anastasia Jones - Toronto-based historian who focuses on the history of gender and sexuality

Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Chion Wolf contributed to this show, which originally aired on February 22, 2018.

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