Rosemary Kennedy, first sister of President John F. Kennedy and Senators Robert F. Kennedy and Ted Kennedy, was born with a mental handicap and intellectually never developed beyond about a fourth-grade level.
When she was 23 her father Joseph ordered doctors to give her a lobotomy, and for 20 years the Kennedy siblings claim to have not known what had happened to their sister, or even where she was. Later in life she would be reintegrated back into the family, where her presence would profoundly impact her young nieces’ and nephews’ perspectives on disability.
A new book by Kate Clifford Larson, Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy chronicles Rosemary’s story, the life of a beautiful but mentally challenged woman, and the struggle of one of America’s highest profile families to hide her existence.
Listen to the full story at NPR.