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Kick: JFK’s Forgotten Sister and Heir to Chatsworth

Saturday 2 April 2016

1 Hour


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Ticket price

Biographer Paula Byrne previews her forthcoming book about Kathleen ‘Kick’ Kennedy, the vivacious and clever sister of JFK who charmed the English aristocracy but was almost erased from her family history.

Kathleen arrived in England in 1938 after her father was appointed ambassador. Byrne explains how her wit, aloofness and sexual charisma fascinated the British public. She met and fell in love with Britain’s most eligible bachelor, William ‘Billy’ Cavendish, heir to the Duke of Devonshire and Chatsworth. The eventual marriage to Anglican Billy in 1944 met with the disapproval of the Catholic Kennedys. Billy died shortly afterwards in combat and Kick four years later in a plane crash. Byrne says Kick was more than just a sister to the famous Kennedy brothers. She was a force in her own right but one that was hidden from the family history.

Byrne is author of a number of biographical works including Jane Austen and the Theatre, Perdita: The Life of Mary Robinson and Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead. Kick will be published in May. Here Byrne talks to novelist and fashion journalist Plum Sykes, author of Bergdorf Blondes and The Debutante Divorcee and a contributing editor on fashion for American Vogue.

Programme of American literature and culture.

This event is part of the festival’s women in society programme sponsored by HSBC.