Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Theodora Keogh Dies

Like a lot of people I guess, I had never heard of Theodora Roosevelt Rauchfuss Keogh until The Telegraph ran her obituary today. An obituary, as a matter of fact, Keogh had requested not run at all, according to The Charlotte Observer who said that one time novelist, socialite and ballet dancer had requested there be “no funeral or obituary and leaves no children of her own, according to family and friends.”

Keogh died January 5th at age 88 and was, according to The Telegraph, the granddaughter of President Theodore Roosevelt and “the author of nine novels, all of them dark in tone and many of them peopled with sinister figures.”
The remarkable early novels treated young girls facing sexual conflict in New York and Paris, and critics could not decide whether Theodora Keogh possessed extraordinary understanding of these matters or was merely aiming to shock.
Though Keogh’s work gained some critical respect, in the United States her novels were produced as pulps and are all out of print, though in the last few years, reports The Telegraph, “she was tracked down by a disparate group of new readers from various lands, some bearing offers of republication.”
Theodora Keogh published her first novel, Meg, in 1950. Partly autobiographical (the heroine came from an Upper East Side family), it tackled dark areas - the heroine was raped, and passed her history exam by threatening to expose her teacher as a lesbian.

John Betjeman described it as a “brutally frightening picture of what may happen to a little girl in New York”, and Nigel Nicolson wrote: “A great many people will be outraged by this book, but I place it first on my list because of its remarkable originality, good sense and utter lack of sentimentality.”

In the Saturday Review, Patricia Highsmith gave an unknown woman a rare favourable review: “She writes with a skill and command of her material that should set her promptly into the ranks of the finer young writers of today.”
Though from the little I’ve been able to learn about Keogh, I think she would have hated all this fuss about her, The Telegraph obituary paints an amazing portrait of a life well lived. The author herself might have paused before making some of this stuff up. The Charlotte Observer adds a bit here and here.

Ironically, we bring you the news about Keogh’s death on the very day former first daughter and mystery author Margaret Truman Daniel passes away at age 83. The Rap Sheet has that story here.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am Theo's stepdaughter.

Her life, as it affected my family, was hardly "well lived."

Ask me and my four siblings what she sent one of us when our father died.

Ask us how she betrayed our mother, who had taken Theo.

Ask us about Theo's voodoo.

Ask us about the family's linen, crystal, china, furniture, and photographs she destroyed rather than give to her stepchildren.

Ask us about her involvement with drugs.

A well-lived life, yes, and a strange one. Also a life that destroyed a gullible family.

Christine Rauchfuss Gray

Wednesday, January 30, 2008 3:54:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The writer of the article on Theo left out an important part of the obit in the Charlotte paper.

The obit in full is found at this link:

Wednesday, January 30, 2008 4:07:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Judy said...

A new book published this month offers glimpses of Theodora's life in Paris, circa 1950-1952, that enlarge somewhat on the Telegraph's obit and the biography. Sally Pierone, who was art director of the Marshall Plan at that time in Paris, tells of the wild, bohemian life she experienced with Tom and Theodora Keogh. Sally, now 86, isn't proud of those days, but she did turn her life around. Sally—The Older Woman's Illustrated Guide to Self-Improvement. (www.SallytheBook.com)

Monday, February 4, 2008 10:36:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Theodora was a great woman. She would have done anything to help anybody. I have known theodora my whole life. My grandfather bought theodoras house and property when her step son steve rauchfuss embezzled her money while she was sick in the hospital. Theodora never even tried to get her money back from him. It disqusts me to she theodoras step daughter christine trash her character even when she is dead. Its not Theodoras fault that Arthur found a woman he loved more than your mother. So let the past go.....

Monday, December 29, 2008 3:11:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear, you saw only one side of, as she is known by our family, Theowhora.

No, no, Sweetie. Stephen did not embezzle.

Let the truth be known: Thee Thee wanted Stephen to run her business growing marijuana in the basement of my father's house.

Really, now, you should ask those whose family was damaged--not destroyed, mind you--by Theowhora.

And the Roosevelts et al. and their "friend" Joan do not frighten me one wit!

Dr. Gray

Wednesday, December 31, 2008 1:04:00 PM PST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Professor Gray, I just have to wonder if you'll still be speaking about your stepmother in such terms after her novels are republished (by some university press rather than by olympiapress.com) and make their way into American literature and women's studies curriculi.

When that happens, I'm sure, there will be plenty of panels (at the MLA and elsewhere) and theses and papers in journals about her work.

Thursday, January 1, 2009 6:55:00 AM PST  

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