Book Launch - Charlotte Gray: Passionate Mothers, Powerful Sons

Book Launch - Charlotte Gray: Passionate Mothers, Powerful Sons

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Library and Archives Canada (LAC) and the Ottawa International Writers Festival invite you to the launch of Passionate Mothers, Powerful Sons: The Lives of Jennie Jerome Churchill and Sara Delano Roosevelt by award-winning historian and LAC Scholar Charlotte Gray.

CBC’s Alan Neal hosts a conversation with the author on this captivating dual biography of two famous women whose sons would change the course of the 20th century.

Born into upper-class America in the same year, 1854, Sara Delano (later to become the mother of Franklin Delano Roosevelt) and Jennie Jerome (later to become the mother of Winston Churchill) refused to settle into predictable, sheltered lives as little-known wives to prominent men. Instead, both women concentrated their energies on enabling their sons to reach the epicentre of political power on two continents.

In the mid-19th century, the British Empire was at its height, France’s Second Empire flourished, and the industrial vigour of the United States of America was catapulting the republic towards the Gilded Age. Sara and Jennie, raised with privilege but subject to the constraints of women’s roles at the time, learned how to take control of their destinies—Sara in the prosperous Hudson Valley, and Jennie in the glittering world of Imperial London.

Set against one hundred years of history, Passionate Mothers, Powerful Sons is a study in loyalty and resilience. Gray argues that Jennie and Sara are too often presented as lesser figures in the backdrop of history rather than as two remarkable individuals who were key in shaping the characters of the sons who adored them and in preparing them for leadership on the world stage.

Event details

Tuesday, September 12, 2023
6:30 p.m. (Eastern Daylight Time)
Event admission
Free admission,
Seating is limited, so please register.
Event location
Library and Archives Canada,
Alfred Pellan Room
Event address
395 Wellington Street, Ottawa, ON

For more information about this event, email


Gray has managed to do the virtually impossible, and that is to say something new and perceptive about Winston Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. With her usual keen eye for the telling detail and her sympathy for her subjects, she argues for the importance of the statesmen’s relationships with their two very different but forceful mothers.

Margaret MacMillan
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