A recently unearthed batch of letters from Jackie Kennedy reveal a romance in between her two marriages that few know about.
With the letters about to go to auction in London, they reveal tragedy and tenderness that Kennedy shared with a British diplomat.
She once said: “I want to live my life, not record it” and this might be why Jackie’s legacy is mostly etched in the American consciousness through pictures, videos and other cultural imagery — as opposed to her actual writings.
But a new collection of letters that she wrote — not to either of the men she married, but to a longtime companion in between those two unions —offer new insight into the former first lady as she went through a period of her life marked by both tragedy and tenderness.
The correspondences are with David Ormsby Gore, the British ambassador to the US during the Kennedy administration.
The diplomat and his wife were longtime friends of John and Jackie Kennedy through the English social scene, and when Kennedy was elected to the presidency, he specifically asked for Ormsby Gore to become ambassador, says grandson Jasset Ormsby Gore.
“During the time that my grandfather and grandmother were based in Washington, other ambassadors from other countries were slightly jealous of how much the Ormsby Gores were invited to dinners and dances,” Jasset tells Yahoo News.
“They were really part of the White House inner circle.”
The kinship remained tight even after the assassination of JFK in 1963.
When Ormsby Gore’s wife, Sylvia, died suddenly in an automobile accident in 1967, Jackie flew to Europe for her funeral.
After that, it seems, a deep companionship — and even a romance — came to pass.
“Your last letter was such a cri de coeur of loneliness — I would do anything to take that anguish from you…” Kennedy wrote in one letter to Ormsby Gore after the death of his wife.
In another: “As I write this, looking out the window I see all the ships going past… and it makes me feel such comfort to be writing to you now — with so much love dear David.”
Even after Jackie married Aristotle Onassis in 1968, the emotional connection she shared with Ormsby Gore persisted.
In one heartbroken letter dated February 3, 1968, David even wrote of his “pathetic” hopes of “a secret marriage this summer” to Jackie — “all had become irrelevant trash to be thrown away within a few hours of my landing in New York. As for your photograph? I weep when I look at it.”
For her part, Jackie staved off his hopes and remained committed to her new life — and new husband, Aristotle Onassis.
She wrote to David: “If ever I can find some healing and some comfort — it has to be with somebody who is not part of all my world of past and pain. I can find that now — if the world will let us.”
“Jackie and David both went through very serious tragedy in their personal lives,” says Jasset.
“This tragedy brought their friendship together, and I think this is illustrated in the closeness and tenderness of the letters.”
No one knew about the existence of these notes until just months ago, when they were unearthed by Jasset, when clearing out his family’s estate in an effort to auction it off and preserve it.