Black Dome Press

Elliott and Eleanor Roosevelt


Winner of the Ella Dickey Literacy Medal


Elliott and Eleanor Roosevelt


The Story of a Father and His Daughter in the Gilded Age


 By Geraldine Hawkins


Foreword by John Matteson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Biography

trade paper, 6″ x 9″, 416 pages, 50 illustrations, isbn 9781883789848, $21.95 

Elliott Roosevelt was by all accounts as charming and charismatic as any member of that charming and charismatic family, including his famously gregarious 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?

            Elliott and Eleanor Roosevelt is a tragic story whose darkness is redeemed by the love of a broken father for his daughter, and by her enduring love for him.



Despite all the wealth and privilege to which she was an heiress, Eleanor Roosevelt endured a childhood of Dickensian horrors: rejection by her mother; the death of a sibling; the early loss of both her parents. Yet her life story is one that would send a behaviorist scrambling back to the drawing board. How is it possible, we may ask, that a child with such a tormented childhood grew up to become such a beacon of hope and compassion for millions across the world? … The woman who emerges at the end of Geraldine Hawkins’s narrative is one whose early traumas left her not entirely whole, one who strove to manufacture wholeness by sharing charity and love with the rest of the world. -— John Matteson, distinguished professor of English at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in the City University of New York, author of EDEN’S OUTCASTS: THE STORY OF LOUISA MAY ALCOTT AND HER FATHER, awarded the PULITZER PRIZE for Biography in 2008

The complex life of Eleanor Roosevelt can be understood only by recognizing the importance of her relationship with her father. Ms. Hawkins has done a superb research job, bringing together previously unpublished material that documents the fragility, promise and despair of Elliott Roosevelt, who wrapped his little Eleanor in a love she never forgot. This work offers an unforgettable picture of a knight in tarnished armor whose character, flawed as it was, laid the foundation for the life of the most outstanding woman of the twentieth century. Any student of the Roosevelt period, as well as the Victorian era in general, will find this work illuminating in terms of family influences, social forces and moral development. It represents a worthwhile addition to personal and scholarly libraries. ---- Maurine H. Beasley, professor emerita, University of Maryland College Park, author of ELEANOR ROOSEVELT: TRANSFORMATIVE FIRST LADY.


Elliott Roosevelt — charming, troubled, alcoholic — may well have been the most important man in his daughter Eleanor’s life. Geraldine Hawkins’ absorbing account of their relationship not only makes a real contribution to the literature on the Roosevelt family, but provides a fascinating window onto the manners and morals of New York society in a bygone age. ---- Mary Ann Glendon, author of A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Eleanor Roosevelt’s father, Elliott, has until now appeared in history as only a marginal character in accounts devoted to the story of his famous daughter or his famous brother, Theodore Roosevelt. Now Geraldine Hawkins brings this remarkable man to center stage. In her superb account Hawkins combines extensive research, thoughtful analysis, and a fine narrative style. Her Elliott Roosevelt is a vital, sensitive, and tormented human being whose long decline into alcoholism is heart-wrenching. Elliott died while his beloved daughter, Eleanor, was still a child, and yet we leave this account knowing “the First Lady of the World” better for having seen so clearly her poignant relationship with her father. ---- J. William T. Youngs, Professor of History, Eastern Washington University

In telling the story of the “forgotten” Roosevelt, Elliott — brother of Theodore, father of Eleanor, godfather of Franklin — Geraldine Hawkins has uncovered a new dimension of this American saga. The doomy Elliott, regarded in his youth as promising as Theodore, became his family’s cautionary tale in his adult years — dissolute and self destructive, his daunting dark side giving definition to his brother’s golden tale. But however far and fast he fell, Elliott continued to have a powerful effect on those close to him — not only Theodore, but especially his beloved daughter Eleanor who continued to revere him and be defined by the long shadow he cast the rest of her life. Hawkins has brought this 19th-century tragedy alive in her carefully researched and well written biography.---- Peter Collier, author (with David Horowitz) of The Roosevelts: An American Saga

Geraldine Hawkins skillfully blends the words of Elliott and Eleanor Roosevelt, their friends and family into a compelling narrative. Hawkins offers persuasive insight into Elliott, the charismatic father, and his influence on his devoted daughter Eleanor. Elliott’s older brother Theodore managed to channel his passionate enthusiasms all the way to the White House. Elliott’s own passions were more demonic, driving him to a life of dissipation and self destruction. Eleanor, however, remained his little “Nell.” She respected her Uncle Ted, but she adored her father. To her, Elliott was always the loving, righteous man he could have been. Ever mindful of her father’s love and his expectation of courage, Eleanor became a bold humanitarian who would have made her father proud.---- Walter E. Wilson, author of The Bulloch Belles, and (with Gary L. McKay) James D. BullocH


The 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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This product was added to our catalog on Friday 03 February, 2017.

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