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Love Letters of Rose Cleveland, Gay First Lady, Published in New Book

by Sam Cronin
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Jun 21, 2019
Rose Cleveland, pictured sometime before 1918
Rose Cleveland, pictured sometime before 1918  (Source:Wikimedia Commons)

Authors Lizzie Ehrenhalt and Tilly Laskey have published a collection of love letters between former first lady Rose Cleveland and Evangeline Simpson Whipple. The book, titled "Precious and Adored: The Love Letters of Rose Cleveland and Evangeline Simpson Whipple, 1890-1918," collects the letters the two women shared during their 30 year relationship, which predates the modern definition of "lesbian."

Rose took on the role of first lady when her brother, Grover Cleveland took office as a bachelor in 1885. Her tenure lasted until his marriage 14 months later.

The Washington Post spoke to author Ehrenhalt about the new book, and about the women's relationship.

"This was before there was a concept of sexual orientation the way that we know it today," said Ehrenhalt. "That was really being invented right at the time they were writing letters in the 1890s, because that's when sexology as a field gets going."

According to the Post: "Rose met Evangeline Simpson in the winter of 1889-1890, less than a year after her brother left office for the first time. They probably met in Florida, where both spent the season making the rounds among the nation's wealthier families. Rose was 43 and never married. Evangeline was probably 33 and had inherited a fortune from a late husband nearly five decades her senior."

The book takes readers through the journey of their relationship, ranging from the "wild, sometimes obsessive, passion of early love... toward a steady tenderness."

"Precious and Adored" released May 1 and is available from the Minnesota Historical Society or from most e-book vendors.

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