"If you produce one book, you will have done something wonderful in your life."
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis (1929-1994) has been an icon for over fifty years. Many of us are familiar with images of the young, perfectly coiffed First Lady wearing stylish outfits, pearls and matching pillbox hats. We have seen her in evening gowns and long gloves; in candid shots playing with her children; and waving from the Presidential motorcade the day that her husband, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated and America’s Camelot era ended. We know that she was the mother of Caroline Kennedy and the late John F. Kennedy, Jr., and that she became known as “Jackie O.” after marrying wealthy Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis.
We know a lot about the first part of her life, but who was she when her identity was no longer tied to the men she married?
She outlived her first husband by thirty years, and her second husband by twenty years. In 1975, widowed and wealthy, with her two children then in their teens, the 46-year old Jackie needed an identity of her own. Journalist Jimmy Breslin gave her this advice: “You should work as an editor. What do you think you’re going to do, attend openings for the rest of your life?”
Despite her lack of experience, Jackie applied for a job as an editor with Viking Publishing and was hired. She later moved to Doubleday Publishing, and worked her way up to being their Senior Editor. She was enthusiastic about her clients, and their books. She even promoted a book about Marilyn Monroe, mistress of John F. Kennedy, and one about opera singer Maria Callas, a former lover of Aristotle Onassis. Books became her passion, and in the nineteen years she worked in the field, she edited almost one hundred titles.
The Calgary Public Library has ordered a newly released title about this period in Jackie’s life:
Jackie as Editor: The Literary Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis by Greg Lawrence
Other titles which may interest you:
What Jackie Taught Us: Lessons from the Remarkable Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis by Tina Santi Flaherty
The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Farewell, Jackie: a Portrait of Her Final Days by Ed Klein
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis: a Life by Donald Spoto