Jackie Kennedy: “She never lost her love of poetry, even though her life took her far from her early writing career.”

From The Writer’s Almanac:

It’s the birthday of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, born Jacqueline Bouvier in Southampton, New York, in 1929. She was the eldest of two daughters and she wrote poems and essays as a child. Her work occasionally appeared in local newspapers, and she won the graduating award for literature in high school for a cartoon series she wrote and illustrated.

In 1951, she entered Vogue magazine’s Prix de Paris contest: Entrants were asked to design an issue of the magazine, as well as an advertising campaign, and write an essay on the subject “People I Wish I Had Known.” She named playwright Oscar Wilde, poet Charles Baudelaire, and Serge Diaghilev, founder of the Ballets Russes. She won the contest, but because part of the prize involved working in Paris for six months, her mother made her turn it down.

She later worked as “Inquiring Camera Girl” for the Washington Times-Herald, earning $42.50 a week and interviewing several politicians, including her future husband, John F. Kennedy.

She never lost her love of poetry, even though her life took her far from her early writing career, and she tried to instill that love in her children, Caroline and John Jr. Every year, she required them to select a poem that they liked, copy it down, and present it to her for her birthday. She saved them in her scrapbook.

Caroline, a diplomat and attorney, has carried on the tradition with her own children, and has also published three poetry anthologies, including A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children, whose cover features a photo, taken by Jackie, of young Caroline reading to her teddy bear.

“The things parents enjoy and care about really do get passed on,” Caroline told CBS’s The Early Show. “I think both my parents really believed in the power of words to change the world.”

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