Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter
"[Larson] succeeds in providing a well-rounded portrait of a woman who, until now, has never been viewed in full."—Boston Globe
“A biography that chronicles her life with fresh details . . . By making Rosemary the central character, [Larson] has produced a valuable account of a mental health tragedy and an influential family’s belated efforts to make amends.” — New York Times Book Review
Joe and Rose Kennedy’s strikingly beautiful daughter Rosemary attended exclusive schools, was presented as a debutante to the queen of England, and traveled the world with her high-spirited sisters. Yet Rosemary was intellectually disabled, a secret fiercely guarded by her powerful and glamorous family.
In Rosemary, Kate Clifford Larson uses newly uncovered sources to bring Rosemary Kennedy’s story to light. Young Rosemary comes alive as a sweet, lively girl adored by her siblings. But Larson also reveals the often desperate and duplicitous arrangements the Kennedys made to keep her away from home as she became increasingly difficult in her early twenties, culminating in Joe’s decision to have Rosemary lobotomized at age twenty-three and the family’s complicity in keeping the secret. Only years later did the Kennedy siblings begin to understand what had happened to Rosemary, which inspired them to direct government attention and resources to the plight of the developmentally and mentally disabled, transforming the lives of millions.
“The forgotten Kennedy is forgotten no longer. Rosemary is a rare thing, a book about the Kennedys that has something new to say.” — Laurence Leamer, author of The Kennedy Women
“Heartbreaking.” — Wall Street Journal
needed more space. Joe’s success shorting the market had so enriched him that he was able to purchase the magnificent new Bronxville home just a few months before the stock-market crash in October. The estate was purchased for a then incredible $250,000, and Joe would add tens of thousands of dollars in choice furnishings and decorations. Bronxville was in Westchester County, just a few miles northeast of Riverdale. Nestled on six acres of land, the house, at 294 Pondfield Road, boasted modern
their adventurous flight home, except that Eddie Moore told her that he wasn’t “forgetting our trip back.” By the middle of June, Paris would see German tanks and soldiers march down the Champs-Élysées, beginning a four-year occupation. Within weeks, the Luftwaffe bombing of Great Britain had started. Joe wrote to Rose in New York expressing relief that Rosemary and the Moores were safe at home and assuring her that in spite of German threats he felt confident that he would be secure in London.
Joe fully expected that the Germans would invade England, “but once this has happened I will expect F.D.R. to send for me . . . since there won’t be much for me to do, my place is home, I’ve done my duty.” Rosemary could return to the care of the Assumption Sisters, he believed, “when things settle down here under any regime, [and] they [the nuns] will be delighted to have her back and I’m sure she’ll come back hopping. This state of the world can’t keep on long at this [level of] tension.” Joe’s
many of his staff had become increasingly frustrated by Kennedy’s isolationism in the face of heightened Nazi aggression, and the president had decided to force Kennedy’s resignation. After having dinner with Roosevelt and spending the night at the White House, Joe went on to New York while Rose remained in Washington to visit Rosemary at Saint Gertrude’s. Founded in 1926 by Paulist priest–turned–Benedictine monk Thomas Verner Moore, Saint Gertrude’s School of Arts and Crafts was the fulfillment
good spirits” and following: Letter, Frederick Good to JPK, October 24, 1934, JPKP, box 26. [>] “considerable improvement”: Letter, JPK to Charles Lawrence, November 21, 1934, in DN, 223. [>] injections would not have helped: The use of hormones to treat a variety of mental-health problems in teens and young adults was becoming more popular during the 1930s, though its success as a treatment was doubtful. One case study reported by a team of neurosurgeons and psychiatrists from Massachusetts