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President John F. Kennedy's oldest sister, Rosemary Kennedy, would have celebrated her 100th birthday on Thursday.
Now, new unseen letters reveal more about how she was a vivacious and kind young woman prior to being left with a severe mental disability after she was forced to undergo a lobotomy aged 23 by her father Joseph P. Kennedy.
Years - Surgery - Rosemary - Kennedy - Family
Three years prior the surgery, Rosemary was sent by the Kennedy family to Ireland and England for three weeks in 1938 where she was placed in the care of a young Irish woman named Dorothy Smyth.
When Rosemary left, she decided to keep in contact with Smyth and wrote letters about her time in Europe.
Tone - Letters - Smyth - Kate - Larson
The tone in her letters to Smyth often were childlike and 'innocent', according to Kate Larson, who is the biographer and author of The Hidden Kennedy – a book which discusses in depth about Rosemary's life along with other Kennedy family members.
'The letters are important because they reflect Rosemary as much younger, intellectually, than her 20 years and that she had a full life and her family included her,' Larson told People. 'They were written before Rosemary's lobotomy and they reveal the loss more acutely.'
Smyth - Family - Letters - Years - Nephew
Smyth died in the 1960s, but her family kept the letters for years according to her nephew, Michael Fisher who described the letters to People as holding a 'childlike innocence'.
'When you read the letters or look at the pictures of her going to a ball in London in a formal dress when she was introduced to society and then you reflect on her lobotomy,' Fisher added to People. 'That is the story of Rosemary.'
Smyth - Family - Letters - Kennedy - Family
Smyth's family returned the letters to the Kennedy family in the 1990s.
Larson is delivering a talk and book signing to commemorate Rosemary's birthday at the John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site in Brookline, Massachusetts today.
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