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Great Lives Lecture- Rosemary Kennedy

February 29 @ 7:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Rosemary Kennedy

Lecture Date: February 29, 2024

The Coldwell Banker Elite Lecture

Rosemary, Joe and Rose Kennedy’s strikingly beautiful eldest daughter attended exclusive schools, was presented as a debutante to the queen and king of England, and traveled the world with her high-spirited sisters and brothers. Yet Rosemary was intellectually disabled, a secret fiercely guarded by the Kennedys. Using new sources—Rose Kennedy’s diaries and correspondence, letters from Rosemary’s teachers and doctors, and exclusive family interviews— Larson brings Rosemary alive as a girl adored but challenged to keep pace with her competitive siblings. The Hidden Kennedy Daughter shows both the sensitive care Rose and Joe gave to Rosemary and then—as the family’s stature grew—the often desperate and duplicitous arrangements they made to keep her out of the public eye as she became increasingly difficult in her early twenties. An experimental lobotomy gone terribly wrong left her incapable of living independently. Rosemary’s story is more than a tragedy long hidden for generations. It reveals the central role she played in the shaping of one of our nation’s most famous families, inspiring her siblings to direct attention to the plight of the disabled and transform the lives of millions.

Speaker: Kate Clifford Larson

Dr. Kate Clifford Larson is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling author of critically acclaimed biographies, including Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet TubmanPortrait of an American Hero, the first deeply researched full length biography of the American icon since 1943; Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter; and The Assassin’s Accomplice: Mary Surratt and the Plot to Kill Abraham. Dr. Larson earned BA and MA degrees from Simmons College and an MBA from Northeastern University before completing her doctorate in American History and specializing in 19th and 20th century U.S. Women’s and African American history at the University of New Hampshire. An historical consultant, Larson has worked on feature film scripts—including Focus Features’ Harriet starring prize-winning Cynthia Erivo, and Robert Redford’s The Conspirator—numerous documentaries, museum exhibits, public history initiatives, heritage tourism products, curriculum guides, and numerous other publications. Her award-winning work includes Maryland’s Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State and National Monument and Park, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway and All-American Road, and the Harriet Tubman Home and National Historical Park in Auburn, NY. She has appeared on local, national, and international media outlets, including the BBC, PBS, and C-Span, cable networks, podcasts, and CBS Sunday Morning. Dr. Larson has most recently been a Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center Visiting Scholar. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband Spencer—a Senior Wealth Advisor—and their extended family.


February 29
7:30 pm - 8:30 pm
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University of Mary Washington


Dodd Auditorium
George Washington Hall, University of Mary Washington
Fredericksburg, 22401
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