Published in the April 7, 2016 edition.


WAKEFIELD — America’s love affair with and interest in the Kennedy clan continues to this day, though many of the most famous Kennedy family members have long since passed away.

Historian and author Kate Clifford Larson, one of the Kennedy family’s devotees, has written a book about Rose Marie Kennedy, or “Rosemary,” as most people know her. The book, published in October 2015, is titled “Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter” and is available in major bookstores and on

Larson will autograph copies of her book when she speaks about Rosemary and her tragic life during the second of the 2016 Sweetser Lecture Series at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 12 inside The Savings Bank Theatre, 60 Farm St.

Rosemary was the first daughter born to Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy and her husband Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. She was the eldest sister of former President John F. Kennedy and Senators Robert M. Kennedy and Ted Kennedy.

According to historical accounts, Rosemary was a beautiful and graceful young woman but she had behavioral problems that were long kept secret. Because of her difficulties, her school work suffered and her father eventually arranged one of the first prefrontal lobotomies for her when she was only 23.

The surgery, however, failed and left the young woman permanently incapacitated. She spent the rest of her life in an institution in Jefferson, Wisc. with minimal contact from her family, and her condition is believed to have inspired her sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver to launch the Special Olympics. Rosemary died at age 86.

When Larson speaks on April 12, she will share more of Rosemary’s story with her audience. Her presentation also will include a Power Point presentation that shows photographs of Rosemary and other family members that will place listeners in that time period.

Larson said that she first became intrigued with Rosemary Kennedy when she read her obituary.

By writing her book about her, Larson said she “gave Rosemary a voice.”

“People will fall in love with Rosemary,” she said.

While writing the book and researching her topic, Larson said she spoke with the Shriver boys who told her that while growing up, not much was ever mentioned about their aunt.

“We never knew what happened to Rosemary,” Anthony Shriver told Larson.

“When I spoke to Anthony, I found him warm and generous and his love for his Aunt Rosemary was obvious,” Larson said. “The take-away from the book is that we still have a long way to go in terms of understanding and treating mental illness.”

The author, who makes her home in Winchester, said she has loved history since childhood and enjoys research that goes along with writing about historical figures.

“My father loved history, too, and I always loved the stories he would tell me about early colonial New England history. He was an avid reader, too, and I grew up with history books everywhere,” she said.

In college, Larson double-majored in economics and history and though she pursued an MBA and worked in the financial industry for years, her passion was always history.

“After the birth of my two children, I decided to go back to school and earn a Ph.D. in American history at the University of New Hampshire. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.”

Tickets to Larson’s lecture will be available at the door or at Smith’s Drug Store on Main Street. Requests for tickets or checks can also be mailed in a self-addressed stamped envelope to Sweetser Lecture Series, PO Box 1734, Wakefield MA 01880. Price per single ticket: $10.

The final lecture of the 2016 Sweetser Series on May 3 will feature author and documentary producer Rick Beyer, who will speak on his documentary titled “The Ghost Army of World War II: Deceiving the Enemy with Illusion.”