Wednesday 7 December 2016

One can't help feeling just a little tawdry reading Jackie's deeply private letters

Published 17/05/2014 | 02:30

Jackie Kennedy with her brother in law Edward. Photo: STR
Jackie Kennedy with her brother in law Edward. Photo: STR

International reaction to this week's revelation of a tranche of letters between Jackie Kennedy and an elderly Irish priest in Dublin shows the enduring fascination of this extraordinary family to the public, and especially to the Irish public.

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The letters from Jackie to Fr Joseph Leonard are from an earlier and more innocent era. The correspondence began in 1950 when Jackie was just 21 and a student visiting Dublin, where she met Fr Leonard, who was 73. For over a decade, the usually very private Jackie revealed aspects of her life that she never spoke of in public – feelings about John F Kennedy's womanising, his political aspirations and his eventual assassination, which, she told the Vincentian priest, made her "bitter against God".

But she confessed that she, too, 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," she wrote.

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