Tag Archives: Rose Marie Kennedy

Rosemary is a Horrific Kennedy Tale

If you already don’t like the history of the wealthy Kennedy family, this book will likely take you over the top.

Kate Clifford Lawson published a book entitled Rosemary:  The Hidden Kennedy Daughter Kate Clifford Lawson Picture(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015), which exposes information that is not well known to casual followers of the clan.  (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015), which exposes information that is not well known to casual followers of the clan.

Lawson received her doctorate in History from the University of New Hampshire.  Her first book was a biography of Harriet Tubman, Bound for the Promised Land , published in 2003.  Next was The Assassin’s Accomplice, about Mary Surratt and her role in the assassination of President Lincoln, published in 2008.

RosemaryFuneralPictureProblems for Rose Marie “Rosemary” Kennedy began when her mother was forced to delay her birth, as a nurse, waiting on a doctor to arrive, forced her to remain in the birth canal for two hours, resulting in a loss of oxygen.  She was born on September 13, 1918, and was the first daughter born to Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., and Rose Fitzgerald.  Rosemary was the eldest sister of the three Kennedy brothers, John, Robert, and Ted.  This is her last-known picture, before her death on January 7, 2005.

You get the feeling throughout the book that she was an embarrassment to the Kennedy family.  While she was RosemaryBookCoverbeautiful, she was not nearly as talented in school and sports as her siblings.  The cause was a mental disability, for which her father authorized a prefrontal lobotomy for her at age 23.  The procedure was a failure, and she was permanently incapacitated. She spent the rest of her life in an institution in Jefferson, Wisconsin, with minimal contact from her family. Her condition is believed to have inspired her sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, to start the Special Olympics.

As an example of the likely embarrassment she represented, the book discusses the way that Rosemary’s existence was hardly acknowledged during JFK’s 1960 campaign to the White House, even though he stated that conditions such as hers should be brought out into the open.

The book is  not the only work that has addressed Rosemary.  Yet, it is well-researched and documented, and perhaps it will inspire other writers to research even more about her.