A new book by Geraldine Hawkins, Elliott and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Story of a Father and His Daughter in the Gilded Age (Black Dome Press Corp. 2017) takes a look into the lives and relationship between Elliot and Eleanor Roosevelt.
Elliott Roosevelt was by all accounts as charming and charismatic as any member of that charming and charismatic family, including his godson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. As an adolescent Elliott was the protector of his older brother, the then-sickly Theodore Roosevelt, and as a teenager and young man in his early twenties he roamed the American West when the west was still wild and went off on his own for an extended safari hunting big game in India. A strong social conscience instilled by his father stayed with him all his life, and he passed that compassion for the downtrodden on to his daughter, Eleanor Roosevelt. He was intelligent, handsome, wealthy, beloved by all, and he married one of the most beautiful women in New York society. Ten months later their first child, Eleanor, was born. It would seem that Elliott Roosevelt had the perfect life.
Ten years after that, Elliott was dead following a fall from a window that might have been a suicide attempt, leaving Eleanor an orphan at age ten. Elliott had become a hardcore alcoholic, battled drug addiction, had a series of mistresses and fathered a child with one of them, and had become an outcast and pariah who was allowed no more than brief, sporadic visits with his wife and children.
What happened to this young man of such remarkable potential who shared many of the finer qualities of his brother Theodore and his godson Franklin? And what effect did he have on his beloved daughter Eleanor, who cherished his memory all of her life as she went on to become one of the legendary women of the twentieth century, the “First Lady of the World,” as Harry Truman called her?
Author Geraldine Hawkins has served as an historical interpreter at the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, Eleanor Roosevelt’s Val-Kill, and the Vanderbilt Mansion (all in Hyde Park, New York); Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace, the Statue of Liberty, and the African Burial Ground National Monument in New York City; and at John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site and Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House in Massachusetts. She makes her home in New York City.
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