Lorena Hickok & Eleanor Roosevelt:
A Love Story

Written by Pat Bond
Performed by Marjorie Conn

Bond’s masterpiece chronicles the amazing 30 year relationship between the First Lady of the Land and the top woman journalist in the United States documented in over 2000 letters written by Roosevelt to her “beloved Hick.” These letters as well other personal materials are at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park, NY. Hickok actually lived in the White House and her story would be fascinating even if she hadn't been Eleanor Roosevelt's lover. She overcame incredible diversity including sexism and physical familial abuse and her life story is inspiring.

She was also Franklin D. Roosevelt’s confidential investigative reporter for the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) during the Great Depression. Her reports to FDR helped shape government policy.

Her great friendship with Eleanor began shortly before Eleanor became First Lady and some researchers claim Hickok was “the woman behind the woman.”

The Provincetown Fringe Festival continues to honor Pat Bond, her life and works and her contribution to the gay and lesbian community as an actor, comedian, and playwright.  Bond cared about knowledge, fighting injustice, the plight of older lesbians and making people laugh no matter what the situation.

About the Author

Pioneering lesbian performer and playwrite Pat Bond was born in 1925 in Chicago. She performed in a local children’s theater as a child, and acting and performing remained part of her life from then onward.

Bond joined the WACs in 1945 in order to meet other lesbians and served in occupied Japan. She left the army in 1947 on the heels of an official campaign to purge lesbians within the corps (she escaped a dishonorable discharge), and moved to San Francisco. She eventually became a comic and opened her own club (Bond Street), and went on to write and perform several one-woman shows, including Conversations with Lorena Hickok (the original title of this play) and Gerty, Gerty, Gerty Stein Is Back, Back, Back.

Pat Bond wrote and performed A Love Story in the 1980’s to critical acclaim. Bond died in the early 90’s and in 1992, the Gay and Lesbian Outreach to Elders (GLOE) formed the Pat Bond Memorial Old Dyke Awards in order to honor the outstanding accomplishments by lesbians in their lifetimes as a way to amend that Pat Bond did not receive the recognition she deserved during her lifetime and to also begin a new tradition to celebrate and declare the worth and beauty of the lives of older lesbians.


A Dual Chronology of Lorena and Eleanor
Years Eleanor Roosevelt (ER) Lorena Hickok (LH)
1880-1889 1884: Anna Eleanor Roosevelt born in New York City.  
1890-1899 1894: Father dies (her mother had died 2 years earlier).
1899: Attends Mme. Souvestre’s Allenswood boarding school (near London).
1893: Lorena Hickok born in rural Wisconsin.
1900-1909 1900: First political activism (incl. settlement house work).
1905: Marries her distant cousin, Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR).
1907: Lorena’s mother dies; Lorena moves to Michigan.
1910-1919 1912 on: Active in various political and social organizations.
1918: Discovers Franklin’s affair with Lucy Mercer; at some point, ER and FDR’s relationship changes from marriage to friendship and political partnership.
1913: Begins her career in journalism.

1917: Hired by the Minneapolis Tribune; achieves considerable success and choice assignments.
1920-1929 ER’s political/social activities continue during the decade.
1920: Joins FDR on the campaign trail.
1921: Nurses Franklin after he contracts polio, encouraging his continuing involvement in politics. ER serves as a primary advisor until FDR’s death.
1926: Purchases Todhunter School for Girls with friends Marion Dickerman and Nancy Cook.
1928: Franklin elected governor of New York.

1927: Moves to New York City; writes for the New York Daily Mirror; career continues to thrive.
1928: Covers FDR’s New York gubernatorial campaign.
1930-1939 1932: Travels extensively, campaigning for FDR for President.
1933: Becomes First Lady: holds press conferences of her own, writes columns and books, corresponds with the public, and continues to work for progressive causes throughout.

1939: Resigns from Daughters of the American Revolution when they refuse to allow Marian Anderson to perform in their hall; ER arranges for her concert at the Lincoln Memorial.
1932: Assigned to cover Eleanor Roosevelt during the presidential campaign; meets her and writes a series of interviews.
1932-1933: ER and LH’s relationship develops and deepens; LH advises ER on many matters related to being First Lady.
1933: Resigns from the Associated Press (due to the inherent conflicts of interest arising from her relationship with ER ).
1933-1936: Travels and writes field reports for Harry Hopkins (Federal Emergency Relief Agency) on conditions in Depression-era America .
1936: Moves to Long Island; works for a PR firm.

1945: FDR dies.

1945: Appointed to US delegation to the United Nations.
Presents Universal Declaration of Human Rights to UN General Assembly.
1940: Moves to Washington, DC, working for the Democratic National Committee.
1941-1944: Lives in the White House.
1945: Health problems cause her to resign from public life. Moves to a cottage in Hyde Park. In subsequent years, she writes a series of biographies aimed at elementary school readers.
1950-1959 Continues to work for the rights of women, minorities, workers and the poor.
Opposes McCarthy and McCarthyism.
1954: Writes Ladies of Courage with ER.
1960-1969 1962: Eleanor dies on November 7th. 1962: Lorena does not attend ER’s funeral but visits her grave in secret that night.
1968: Lorena dies in near poverty and obscurity.

Additional Information about Lorena Hickok

Radio program about Lorena Hickok: December 7, 2000, Segment 1: “Blanche Weisen Cook: A Tribute to Lorena Hickok.”

Lorena Hickok’s writings on the Depression: One Third of a Nation, Edited by Richard Lowitt and Maurine Beasley (Univ. IL Press, 2000).

Books about Lorena and Eleanor

Empty Without You Empty Without You: The Intimate Letters of Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok, ed. by Rodger Streitmatter (Da Capo Press, 2000). [Now available in paperback and as an eBook.]
Eleanor Roosevelt, 1884-1933   Eleanor Roosevelt: The Defining Years, 1933-1938 Eleanor Roosevelt, 1884-1933 and Eleanor Roosevelt: Volume 2, The Defining Years, 1933-1938, by Blanche Wiesen Cook (Penguin, 1993 and 2000).
Life of Lorena Hickok The Life of Lorena Hickok: E.R.’s Friend, by Doris Faber (William Morrow and Company, 1980). [Although Faber denies the sexual dimension of LH and ER’s relationship, the book contains lots of information about Hickok’s life.]