Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter
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"[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
14–15, 17–18, 243 n 9 Joe Kennedy and, 8–9, 10, 17–18, 20–21 New England Conservatory, Boston, 17 women’s changing roles and, 10–11 See also Kennedy, Rose Fitzgerald, Zelda, 178 Fitzwilliam, Peter, 184–86 Fonda, Henry, 178 Forbes, Mother, 70 Ford, John, 188–89, 190 Freeman, Walter background/description, 159, 163, 172 lobotomies/lobotomy promotion, 159, 160, 161, 162, 163–64, 165, 166, 167–72, 236 G Gargan, Ann, 155, 170, 175, 191 Gargan, Joe/Joey, 89 Garland, Judy, 101 George
to Maryland, 200 Peace Corps, 200 Shriver, Timothy Rosemary and, 176, 224–25, 226, 236–37, 264–65 n 141 Special Olympics and, 224, 225 Skakel, Ethel, 193 Slavin, Miss, 156 Smith, Amanda, 155, 174 Snow White (film), 104 Spanish influenza, 1–2 Special Olympics, 204–5, 222, 224, 225 Sports Illustrated, 226 sterilization programs, 57, 74, 75, 142 stock market crash (1929), 50, 62, 95–96 Sulad, Madeline, 213 Sullivan, Grace/Caroline Camp Fernwood/Rosemary and, 143–47, 149 Rose
parents believed was more suited to her need for individual attention and encouragement. The Newtons provided instruction to gifted students as well as those who struggled with meeting scholastic challenges. Each new school—this one was her third in five years—meant weeks of adjustment for Rosemary. A new living and learning situation posed anxieties that manifested in moodiness, uncooperativeness, and emotional instability. This pattern emerged early in Rosemary’s childhood, yet her parents
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
and Worst of Their Lives and Times (New York: Birch Lane Press, 1995), 47. [>] The nurse demanded: Ibid., 54, based on interview with Barbara Gibson, Rose Kennedy’s longtime secretary. [>] “I had such confidence”: TTR, 66, 68. [>] Dr. Good and his colleagues: “Children Born at Home,” diaries, August 23, 1971, RFKP, box 5; see also ibid., 68. [>] When holding Rose’s legs together: LL, The Kennedy Women, 137, based on interviews with Luella Hennessey Donovan, a longtime Kennedy nursemaid and