Rosemary's Baby (novel)

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Rosemary's Baby
Cover of 1967 first edition
AuthorIra Levin
CountryUnited States
PublisherRandom House
Publication date
March 12, 1967
Media typePrint (hardcover and paperback) and Audio Book
Followed bySon of Rosemary 

Rosemary's Baby is a 1967 horror novel by American writer Ira Levin; it was his second published book. It sold over 4 million copies, "making it the top bestselling horror novel of the 1960s." [1] The high popularity of the novel was a catalyst for a "horror boom", and horror fiction would achieve enormous commercial success.[2]


The book centers on Rosemary Woodhouse, a young married woman who has just moved into the Bramford, a historic Gothic Revival-style New York City apartment building, with her husband, Guy, a struggling actor. Guy had so far appeared only in small roles in the stage plays Luther, Nobody Loves an Albatross, and various TV commercials. The pair is warned that the Bramford has a disturbing history involving witchcraft and murder, but they choose to overlook this. For some time Rosemary has wanted children, but Guy wants them to wait until his career is more established.

Rosemary and Guy are quickly welcomed to the Bramford by neighbors Minnie and Roman Castevet, an eccentric elderly couple. Rosemary finds them meddlesome and absurd, but Guy begins paying them frequent visits.

After a theatrical rival suddenly goes blind, Guy is given an important part in a stage play. Immediately afterward, Guy unexpectedly agrees with Rosemary that it is time to conceive their first child. That night, she dreams of a rough sexual encounter with a huge, inhuman creature with yellow eyes. Rosemary finds claw marks on her breasts and groin the following morning, which Guy dismisses as the results of a hangnail. She subsequently learns that she is pregnant.

Rosemary falls severely ill; but her severe pain and weight loss are ignored by everyone around her and attributed to hysteria. Her doctor and Minnie feed her strange and foul concoctions. Rosemary also develops a peculiar craving for raw meat.

Guy's performance in the stage play brings him favorable notices, and he gains other, increasingly important roles. He soon begins to talk about a career in Hollywood.

After receiving a warning from a friend, Edward "Hutch" Hutchins, who also becomes mysteriously ill, Rosemary discovers that her neighbors are the leaders of a Satanic coven. She suspects that they intend to steal her baby and use it as a sacrifice to the devil. Despite her growing conviction, she is unable to convince anyone else. She comes to believe that she has no one on her side, least of all her own husband. Ultimately, Rosemary finds that she is wrong about the coven's reason for wanting the baby. The baby that she has delivered is the Antichrist, and Guy is not the father; Satan is.

Critical reception[edit]

Cherry Wilder said, "Rosemary's Baby is one of the most perfectly crafted thrillers ever written".[3] Horror scholar Gary Crawford described Rosemary's Baby as "a genuine masterpiece".[4] David Pringle described Rosemary's Baby as "this sly, seductive impeccably-written horror novel ... is an expertly constructed story, a playwright's book, in which every physical detail and line of dialogue counts." [5]


In 1968, the novel was adapted as a movie of the same name, starring Mia Farrow, with John Cassavetes as Guy. Ruth Gordon, who played Minnie Castevet, won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Roman Polanski, who wrote and directed the film, was nominated for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium. The exterior shots of the fictional Bramford apartment were filmed at the Dakota on Central Park West in New York.[6] A made-for-TV movie sequel to the Polanski film, Look What's Happened to Rosemary's Baby, was produced in 1976.

In 2014, the novel was adapted as an NBC television miniseries, with Zoe Saldana as Rosemary. The two-part miniseries aired on Mother's Day of that year.[7]


Thirty years later Levin published a sequel to the novel, titled Son of Rosemary (1997).[8] Levin dedicated it to Mia Farrow.


Rosemary's Baby was published in Spanish translation during the Francoist dictatorship. The Francoist censors cut passages from this translation, claiming the cut passages "glorified Satan". [9] As of April 2019, all the Spanish-language editions of the book still retain these cuts.[9]


  1. ^ Harry Edwin Eiss (editor), Images of the Child, p. 38 (Bowling Green State University Press, 1994). ISBN 0-87972-653-9
  2. ^ "Levin's frightening little book...triggered the whole modern boom in American horror fiction, making possible the success of William Peter Blatty's (much inferior) The Exorcist (1971), the Omen/Damien series of films, and the careers of novelists Stephen King and Peter Straub, among many others". David Pringle, Modern Fantasy: The 100 Best Novels. London, Grafton, 1988. ISBN 0246132140 (p.103-5)
  3. ^ Cherry Wilder, "Levin, Ira" in Twentieth-Century Science-Fiction Writers by Curtis C. Smith. St. James Press, 1986, ISBN 0-912289-27-9 (p.443-4).
  4. ^ Gary Crawford, "Ira Levin" in Jack Sullivan (ed.) (1986) The Penguin Encyclopedia of Horror and the Supernatural Viking Press, 1986, ISBN 0-670-80902-0 (p.264).
  5. ^ Pringle, 1988. (p.103-5)
  6. ^ Fran Capo, Myths and Mysteries of New York: True Stories of the Unsolved and Unexplained, p. 25 (Morris Book Publishing, 2011). ISBN 978-0-7627-6107-4
  7. ^ Miniseries 'Rosemary's Baby' To Air May 11 and May 15 on NBC
  8. ^ Christopher Bonanos, "No Rest For The Wicked", New York Magazine, p. 135 (8 September 1997).
  9. ^ a b Cornellà-Detrell, Jordi (April 15, 2019). "Franco's invisible legacy: books across the Hispanic world are still scarred by his censorship". The Conversation (website). Retrieved March 13, 2020.

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