Written By: Kate Clifford Larson

Narrated By: Bernadette Dunne

Date: October 2015

Duration: 7 hours 30 minutes


They were the most prominent American family of the twentieth century. The daughter they secreted away made all the difference.

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. And yet, Rosemary was intellectually disabled—a secret fiercely guarded by her powerful and glamorous family.

Major new sources—Rose Kennedy’s diaries and correspondence, school and doctors’ letters, and exclusive family interviews—bring Rosemary to life as a girl adored but left far behind by her competitive siblings. Kate Larson reveals both the sensitive care Rose and Joe gave to Rosemary and then, as the family’s standing reached an apex, the often desperate and duplicitous arrangements the Kennedys made to keep her away from home as she became increasingly intractable in her early twenties. Finally, Larson illuminates Joe’s decision to have Rosemary lobotomized at age twenty-three and the family’s complicity in keeping the secret.

Rosemary delivers a profoundly moving coda: JFK visited Rosemary for the first time while campaigning in the Midwest; she had been living isolated in a Wisconsin institution for nearly twenty years. Only then did the siblings understand what had happened to Rosemary and bring her home for loving family visits. It was a reckoning that inspired them to direct attention to the plight of the disabled, transforming the lives of millions.

“The author presents a well-rounded portrait of Rosemary before the lobotomy, a beautiful young woman full of spunk and love, and the destruction of that vibrant person as a result of the operation…A well-researched, entertaining, and illuminating biography.”—Kirkus Reviews


  • Linda F.

    I was astounded at this book. I didn’t know much about the family and the fact that this happened to their daughter. Such a thought provoking book and totally worth listening to.

  • Annmarie Higgins

    This book was equally fascinating and disturbing . I was most impressed how Eunice honored her sister's life by creating the Special Olympics. An inspiring story!

  • Danny Teevens

    I enjoyed reading an honest account of what has been a 'background' topic of history, and how significant Rosemary's life impacted decisions to help mentally ill and disabled persons. We often look to the bold headings, BIG names, and sensational events as the important news of our day. But, the influence of Rosemary allows us to take note and appreciate the 'quiet, obscure' people and moments that can cause a movement of change. The story of Rosemary's life hits a high point when she is in England. After this time, the listener is left feeling strong feelings of sorrow and anger regarding the unfolding of Rosemary's treatment, and distance from her family members. But, the closing of the audio was nicely wrapped together for the listener. Time well spent!

  • Diane Jackson

    It's amazing how people have pride get in the way of everything. However I loved how much efforts were made on RoseMary to get the best of educations and to hear in horror how far we have come to educating people that have developmental disabilities to living normal lives.

  • Suzanne Myers

    Wonderful, intriguing story and good narration overall.

Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter

by Kate Clifford Larson

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Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter, Kate Clifford Larson
Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter, Kate Clifford Larson
This title is due for release on October 6, 2015.

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