Jackie Kennedy’s revealing correspondence with an Irish priest

With the 20th anniversary of her death approaching, suddenly, Jackie O is popping up everywhere.  

The Washington Post offers us this insight into her life, culled from letters to a priest she only met twice:

 For more than a decade, Jacqueline Kennedy revealed pieces of her life in ink that she never spoke of — feelings about John F. Kennedy’s womanizing, political aspirations and assassination that, she wrote, made her “bitter against God.”

She said she was overcome by ambition, “like MacBeth”: “Maybe I’m just dazzled and picture myself in a glittering world of crowned heads and Men of Destiny — and not just a sad little housewife. … That can be very glamorous from the outside — but if you’re in it — and you’re lonely — it could be a Hell.” After a year of marriage to the future president, she said, “I love being married much more than I did even in the beginning.”

From 1950 to 1964, she wrote nearly 30 letters to an Irish priest, Joseph Leonard, a man she met only twice. “It’s so good in a way to write all this down and get it off your chest — because I never do really talk it with anyone,” she said. The Irish Times reported Tuesday that the newly discovered letters will be sold at an auction next month.

She wrote more than 130 pages on personal stationery, on her father-in-law Joseph P. Kennedy’s stationery and on the stationery of the White House. She printed one telegram. Together, the correspondence offers insight into the private life of Jacqueline Kennedy — or Jacqueline Bouvier, as she was known when the letters started.

She spoke of the stockbroker she nearly married before JFK as well as her early fears that the president might be like her father, who “loves the chase and is bored with the conquest — and once married needs proof he’s still attractive so flirts with other women and resents you.”

Read more. 

Browse Our Archives