Helen Keller

Helen Keller


Who Was Helen Keller?

Helen Keller was an American educator, advocate for the blind and deaf and co-founder of the ACLU. Stricken by an illness at the age of 2, Keller was left blind and deaf. Beginning in 1887, Keller's teacher, Anne Sullivan, helped her make tremendous progress with her ability to communicate, and Keller went on to college, graduating in 1904. During her lifetime, she received many honors in recognition of her accomplishments.

Early Life and Family

The family was not particularly wealthy and earned income from their cotton plantation. Later, Arthur became the editor of a weekly local newspaper, the North Alabamian .

Keller was born with her senses of sight and hearing, and started speaking when she was just 6 months old. She started walking at the age of 1.

Loss of Sight and Hearing

Keller lost both her sight and hearing at just 19 months old. In 1882, she contracted an illness — called "brain fever" by the family doctor — that produced a high body temperature. The true nature of the illness remains a mystery today, though some experts believe it might have been scarlet fever or meningitis.

Within a few days after the fever broke, Keller's mother noticed that her daughter didn't show any reaction when the dinner bell was rung, or when a hand was waved in front of her face.

As Keller grew into childhood, she developed a limited method of communication with her companion, Martha Washington, the young daughter of the family cook. The two had created a type of sign language. By the time Keller was 7, they had invented more than 60 signs to communicate with each other.

During this time, Keller had also become very wild and unruly. She would kick and scream when angry, and giggle uncontrollably when happy. She tormented Martha and inflicted raging tantrums on her parents. Many family relatives felt she should be institutionalized.

Keller's Teacher, Anne Sullivan

Keller worked with her teacher Anne Sullivan for 49 years, from 1887 until Sullivan's death in 1936. In 1932, Sullivan experienced health problems and lost her eyesight completely. A young woman named Polly Thomson, who had begun working as a secretary for Keller and Sullivan in 1914, became Keller's constant companion upon Sullivan's death.

Looking for answers and inspiration, Keller's mother came across a travelogue by Charles Dickens, American Notes, in 1886. She read of the successful education of another deaf and blind child, Laura Bridgman, and soon dispatched Keller and her father to Baltimore, Maryland to see specialist Dr. J. Julian Chisolm.

After examining Keller, Chisolm recommended that she see Alexander Graham Bell , the inventor of the telephone, who was working with deaf children at the time. Bell met with Keller and her parents, and suggested that they travel to the Perkins Institute for the Blind in Boston, Massachusetts.

Helen Keller with Anne Sullivan in July 1888

There, the family met with the school's director, Michael Anaganos. He suggested Keller work with one of the institute's most recent graduates, Sullivan.

On March 3, 1887, Sullivan went to Keller's home in Alabama and immediately went to work. She began by teaching six-year-old Keller finger spelling, starting with the word "doll," to help Keller understand the gift of a doll she had brought along. Other words would follow.

At first, Keller was curious, then defiant, refusing to cooperate with Sullivan's instruction. When Keller did cooperate, Sullivan could tell that she wasn't making the connection between the objects and the letters spelled out in her hand. Sullivan kept working at it, forcing Keller to go through the regimen.

As Keller's frustration grew, the tantrums increased. Finally, Sullivan demanded that she and Keller be isolated from the rest of the family for a time, so that Keller could concentrate only on Sullivan's instruction. They moved to a cottage on the plantation.

In a dramatic struggle, Sullivan taught Keller the word "water"; she helped her make the connection between the object and the letters by taking Keller out to the water pump, and placing Keller's hand under the spout. While Sullivan moved the lever to flush cool water over Keller's hand, she spelled out the word w-a-t-e-r on Keller's other hand. Keller understood and repeated the word in Sullivan's hand. She then pounded the ground, demanding to know its "letter name." Sullivan followed her, spelling out the word into her hand. Keller moved to other objects with Sullivan in tow. By nightfall, she had learned 30 words.

In 1905, Sullivan married John Macy, an instructor at Harvard University, a social critic and a prominent socialist. After the marriage, Sullivan continued to be Keller's guide and mentor. When Keller went to live with the Macys, they both initially gave Keller their undivided attention. Gradually, however, Anne and John became distant to each other, as Anne's devotion to Keller continued unabated. After several years, the couple separated, though were never divorced.

In 1890, Keller began speech classes at the Horace Mann School for the Deaf in Boston. She would toil for 25 years to learn to speak so that others could understand her.

From 1894 to 1896, Keller attended the Wright-Humason School for the Deaf in New York City. There, she worked on improving her communication skills and studied regular academic subjects.

Around this time, Keller became determined to attend college. In 1896, she attended the Cambridge School for Young Ladies, a preparatory school for women.

As her story became known to the general public, Keller began to meet famous and influential people. One of them was the writer Mark Twain , who was very impressed with her. They became friends. Twain introduced her to his friend Henry H. Rogers, a Standard Oil executive.

Rogers was so impressed with Keller's talent, drive and determination that he agreed to pay for her to attend Radcliffe College. There, she was accompanied by Sullivan, who sat by her side to interpret lectures and texts. By this time, Keller had mastered several methods of communication, including touch-lip reading, Braille, speech, typing and finger-spelling.

Keller graduated, cum laude, from Radcliffe College in 1904, at the age of 24.


Helen Keller Fact Card

'The Story of My Life'

With the help of Sullivan and Macy, Sullivan's future husband, Keller wrote her first book, The Story of My Life . Published in 1905, the memoirs covered Keller's transformation from childhood to 21-year-old college student.

Social Activism

Throughout the first half of the 20th century, Keller tackled social and political issues, including women's suffrage, pacifism, birth control and socialism.

After college, Keller set out to learn more about the world and how she could help improve the lives of others. News of her story spread beyond Massachusetts and New England. Keller became a well-known celebrity and lecturer by sharing her experiences with audiences, and working on behalf of others living with disabilities. She testified before Congress, strongly advocating to improve the welfare of blind people.

In 1915, along with renowned city planner George Kessler, she co-founded Helen Keller International to combat the causes and consequences of blindness and malnutrition. In 1920, she helped found the American Civil Liberties Union .

When the American Federation for the Blind was established in 1921, Keller had an effective national outlet for her efforts. She became a member in 1924, and participated in many campaigns to raise awareness, money and support for the blind. She also joined other organizations dedicated to helping those less fortunate, including the Permanent Blind War Relief Fund (later called the American Braille Press).

Soon after she graduated from college, Keller became a member of the Socialist Party, most likely due in part to her friendship with John Macy. Between 1909 and 1921, she wrote several articles about socialism and supported Eugene Debs, a Socialist Party presidential candidate. Her series of essays on socialism, entitled "Out of the Dark," described her views on socialism and world affairs.

It was during this time that Keller first experienced public prejudice about her disabilities. For most of her life, the press had been overwhelmingly supportive of her, praising her courage and intelligence. But after she expressed her socialist views, some criticized her by calling attention to her disabilities. One newspaper, the Brooklyn Eagle , wrote that her "mistakes sprung out of the manifest limitations of her development."

In 1946, Keller was appointed counselor of international relations for the American Foundation of Overseas Blind. Between 1946 and 1957, she traveled to 35 countries on five continents.

In 1955, at age 75, Keller embarked on the longest and most grueling trip of her life: a 40,000-mile, five-month trek across Asia. Through her many speeches and appearances, she brought inspiration and encouragement to millions of people.

'The Miracle Worker' Movie

Keller's autobiography, The Story of My Life , was used as the basis for 1957 television drama The Miracle Worker .

In 1959, the story was developed into a Broadway play of the same title, starring Patty Duke as Keller and Anne Bancroft as Sullivan. The two actresses also performed those roles in the 1962 award-winning film version of the play.

Awards and Honors

During her lifetime, she received many honors in recognition of her accomplishments, including the Theodore Roosevelt Distinguished Service Medal in 1936, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964, and election to the Women's Hall of Fame in 1965.

Keller also received honorary doctoral degrees from Temple University and Harvard University and from the universities of Glasgow, Scotland; Berlin, Germany; Delhi, India; and Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. She was named an Honorary Fellow of the Educational Institute of Scotland.

Keller died in her sleep on June 1, 1968, just a few weeks before her 88th birthday. Keller suffered a series of strokes in 1961 and spent the remaining years of her life at her home in Connecticut.

During her remarkable life, Keller stood as a powerful example of how determination, hard work, and imagination can allow an individual to triumph over adversity. By overcoming difficult conditions with a great deal of persistence, she grew into a respected and world-renowned activist who labored for the betterment of others.


  • Name: Helen Adams Keller
  • Birth Year: 1880
  • Birth date: June 27, 1880
  • Birth State: Alabama
  • Birth City: Tuscumbia
  • Birth Country: United States
  • Gender: Female
  • Best Known For: American educator Helen Keller overcame the adversity of being blind and deaf to become one of the 20th century's leading humanitarians, as well as co-founder of the ACLU.
  • Education and Academia
  • Astrological Sign: Cancer
  • Wright-Humason School for the Deaf
  • Radcliffe College
  • Cambridge School for Young Ladies
  • Horace Mann School for the Deaf
  • Death Year: 1968
  • Death date: June 1, 1968
  • Death State: Connecticut
  • Death City: Easton
  • Death Country: United States

We strive for accuracy and fairness.If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us !


  • Article Title: Helen Keller Biography
  • Author: Biography.com Editors
  • Website Name: The Biography.com website
  • Url: https://www.biography.com/activists/helen-keller
  • Access Date:
  • Publisher: A&E; Television Networks
  • Last Updated: May 6, 2021
  • Original Published Date: April 3, 2014
  • Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow.
  • One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.
  • Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost. Sometime, somewhere, somehow we shall find that which we seek.
  • Gradually from naming an object we advance step by step until we have traversed the vast distance between our first stammered syllable and the sweep of thought in a line of Shakespeare.
  • If it is true that the violin is the most perfect of musical instruments, then Greek is the violin of human thought.
  • A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships.
  • The two greatest characters in the 19th century are Napoleon and Helen Keller. Napoleon tried to conquer the world by physical force and failed. Helen tried to conquer the world by power of mind — and succeeded!” (Mark Twain)
  • The bulk of the world’s knowledge is an imaginary construction.
  • We differ, blind and seeing, one from another, not in our senses, but in the use we make of them, in the imagination and courage with which we seek wisdom beyond the senses.
  • [T]he mystery of language was revealed to me. I knew then that "w-a-t-e-r" meant the wonderful cool something that was flowing over my hand. That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free!
  • It is more difficult to teach ignorance to think than to teach an intelligent blind man to see the grandeur of Niagara.
  • Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.

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Helen Keller

By: History.com Editors

Updated: January 18, 2019 | Original: April 14, 2010

Helen Keller

Helen Keller was an author, lecturer, and crusader for the handicapped. Born in Tuscumbia, Alabama , She lost her sight and hearing at the age of nineteen months to an illness now believed to have been scarlet fever. Five years later, on the advice of Alexander Graham Bell , her parents applied to the Perkins Institute for the Blind in Boston for a teacher, and from that school hired Anne Mansfield Sullivan. Through Sullivan’s extraordinary instruction, the little girl learned to understand and communicate with the world around her. She went on to acquire an excellent education and to become an important influence on the treatment of the blind and deaf.

Keller learned from Sullivan to read and write in Braille and to use the hand signals of the deaf-mute, which she could understand only by touch. Her later efforts to learn to speak were less successful, and in her public appearances she required the assistance of an interpreter to make herself understood. Nevertheless, her impact as educator, organizer, and fund-raiser was enormous, and she was responsible for many advances in public services to the handicapped.

With Sullivan repeating the lectures into her hand, Keller studied at schools for the deaf in Boston and New York City and graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College in 1904. Her unprecedented accomplishments in overcoming her disabilities made her a celebrity at an early age; at twelve she published an autobiographical sketch in the Youth’s Companion , and during her junior year at Radcliffe, she produced her first book, The Story of My Life ,  still in print in over fifty languages. Keller published four other books of her personal experiences as well as a volume on religion, one on contemporary social problems, and a biography of Anne Sullivan. She also wrote numerous articles for national magazines on the prevention of blindness and the education and special problems of the blind.

In addition to her many appearances on the lecture circuit, Keller in 1918 made a movie in Hollywood, Deliverance , to dramatize the plight of the blind and during the next two years supported herself and Sullivan on the vaudeville stage. She also spoke and wrote in support of women’s rights and other liberal causes and in 1940 strongly backed the United States’ entry into World War II .

In 1924, Keller joined the staff of the newly formed American Foundation for the Blind as an adviser and fund-raiser. Her international reputation and warm personality enabled her to enlist the support of many wealthy people, and she secured large contributions from Henry Ford , John D. Rockefeller , and leaders of the motion picture industry. When the AFB established a branch for the overseas blind, it was named Helen Keller International. Keller and Sullivan were the subjects of a Pulitzer Prize-winning play, The Miracle Worker, by William Gibson, which opened in New York in 1959 and became a successful Hollywood film in 1962.

Widely honored throughout the world and invited to the White House by every U.S. president from Grover Cleveland to Lyndon B. Johnson , Keller altered the world’s perception of the capacities of the handicapped. More than any act in her long life, her courage, intelligence, and dedication combined to make her a symbol of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity.

helen keller biography short essay

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Helen Keller

Helen Keller, at age 66.

Helen Adams Keller was born on June 27, 1880, in Tuscumbia, Alabama. When she was 19 months old, she got very sick. The disease left her unable to see or hear.

Helen Keller had many pet dogs during her lifetime.

With Sullivan’s help, Helen made rapid progress. Soon she could read sentences by feeling raised words on cardboard. A few years later she learned Braille . Braille is a special system of writing for the blind that uses raised dots instead of printed words. People read Braille with their fingertips.

Helen Keller touches the face of Anne Sullivan, her remarkable teacher. Keller learned to speak…

Keller was very bright. She graduated from Radcliffe College in 1904. Then she wrote magazine articles that told people about blindness. She also wrote several books about her life.

In 1913 Keller began giving lectures, mainly for the American Foundation for the Blind. Most people had trouble understanding her words, so she took along someone who repeated them to the audience. Keller died in Westport, Connecticut, on June 1, 1968.

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Helen Keller

helen keller biography short essay

Undeterred by deafness and blindness, Helen Keller rose to become a major 20 th century humanitarian, educator and writer. She advocated for the blind and for women’s suffrage and co-founded the American Civil Liberties Union.

Born on June 27, 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabama, Keller was the older of two daughters of Arthur H. Keller, a farmer, newspaper editor, and Confederate Army veteran, and his second wife Katherine Adams Keller, an educated woman from Memphis. Several months before Helen’s second birthday, a serious illness—possibly meningitis or scarlet fever—left her deaf and blind. She had no formal education until age seven, and since she could not speak, she developed a system for communicating with her family by feeling their facial expressions.

Recognizing her daughter’s intelligence, Keller’s mother sought help from experts including inventor Alexander Graham Bell, who had become involved with deaf children. Ultimately, she was referred to Anne Sullivan, a graduate of the Perkins School for the Blind, who became Keller’s lifelong teacher and mentor. Although Helen initially resisted her, Sullivan persevered. She used touch to teach Keller the alphabet and to make words by spelling them with her finger on Keller’s palm. Within a few weeks, Keller caught on. A year later, Sullivan brought Keller to the Perkins School in Boston, where she learned to read Braille and write with a specially made typewriter. Newspapers chronicled her progress. At fourteen, she went to New York for two years where she improved her speaking ability, and then returned to Massachusetts to attend the Cambridge School for Young Ladies. With Sullivan’s tutoring, Keller was admitted to Radcliffe College, graduating cum laude in 1904. Sullivan went with her, helping Keller with her studies. (Impressed by Keller, Mark Twain urged his wealthy friend Henry Rogers to finance her education.)

Even before she graduated, Keller published two books, The Story of My Life (1902) and Optimism (1903), which launched her career as a writer and lecturer. She authored a dozen books and articles in major magazines, advocating for prevention of blindness in children and for other causes.  

Sullivan married Harvard instructor and social critic John Macy in 1905, and Keller lived with them. During that time, Keller’s political awareness heightened. She supported the suffrage movement, embraced socialism, advocated for the blind and became a pacifist during World War I. Keller’s life story was featured in the 1919 film, Deliverance . In 1920, she joined Jane Addams, Crystal Eastman, and other social activists in founding the American Civil Liberties Union; four years later she became affiliated with the new American Foundation for the Blind in 1924.

After Sullivan’s death in 1936, Keller continued to lecture internationally with the support of other aides, and she became one of the world’s most-admired women (though her advocacy of socialism brought her some critics domestically). During World War II, she toured military hospitals bringing comfort to soldiers.

A second film on her life won the Academy Award in 1955; The Miracle Worker —which centered on Sullivan—won the 1960 Pulitzer Prize as a play and was made into a movie two years later. Lifelong activist, Keller met several US presidents and was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964. She also received honorary doctorates from Glasgow, Harvard, and Temple Universities.

  • “Helen Keller.” Perkins. Accessed February 4, 2015.
  • “Helen Keller.” American Foundation for the Blind. Accessed February 4, 2015.
  • "Helen Adams Keller." Dictionary of American Biography . New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1988. U.S. History in Context . Accessed February 4, 2015.
  • "Keller, Helen." UXL Encyclopedia of U.S. History . Sonia Benson, Daniel E. Brannen, Jr., and Rebecca Valentine. Vol. 5. Detroit: UXL, 2009. 847-849. U.S. History in Context . Accessed February 4, 2015.
  • Ozick, Cynthia. “What Helen Keller Saw.” The New Yorker. June 16, 2003. Accessed February 4, 2015.
  • Weatherford, Doris. American Women's History: An A to Z of People, Organizations, Issues, and Events . New York: Prentice Hall, 1994.
  • PHOTO: Library of Congress

MLA - Michals, Debra.  "Helen Keller."  National Women's History Museum.  National Women's History Museum, 2015.  Date accessed.

Chicago - Michals, Debra.  "Helen Keller."  National Women's History Museum.  2015.  www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/helen-keller. 

Helen Keller: Described and Captioned Educational Media

Helen Keller Biography, American Foundation for the Blind

Helen Keller, Perkins School for the Blind

Helen Keller Birthplace

Helen Keller International

 The Miracle Worker (1962). Dir. Arthur Penn. (DVD) Film.

The Miracle Worker (2000). Dir. Nadia Tass. (DVD) Film.

Keller, Helen. The World I Live In . New York: NYRB Classics, 2004.

Ford, Carin.  Helen Keller: Lighting the Way for the Blind and Deaf .  Enslow Publishers, 2001.

Herrmann, Dorothy.  Helen Keller: A Life .  Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1998.

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Helen Keller Intl

Helen keller’s life and legacy.

Portrait of American writer, educator and advocate for the disabled Helen Keller (1880 - 1968) holding a Braille volume and surrounded by shelves containing books and decorative figurines. A childhood illness left Keller blind, deaf and mute. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Helen Keller

Helen Keller is known the world over as a symbol of courage in the face of overwhelming odds.  Yet she was so much more.  A woman of luminous intelligence, high ambition, and great accomplishment, she was driven by her deep compassion for others to devote her life to helping them overcome significant obstacles to living healthy and productive lives. 

A Living Legacy

Helen Keller Intl was co-founded in 1915 by two extraordinary individuals, Helen Keller and George Kessler, to assist soldiers blinded during their service in the first World War. Since our founding, we have committed ourselves to continuing Helen’s work.

Guided by her fierce optimism, we have been working on the front lines of health for more than 100 years. We deliver life-changing health care to vulnerable families in places where the need is great, but access is limited. Our proven, science-based programs empower people to create opportunities in their own lives.

Today we prioritize the essential building blocks of good health, sound nutrition and clear vision, helping millions of people create lasting change in their own lives.

Our commitment to continuing Helen’s work is firmly rooted in her own belief:

The welfare of each is bound up in the welfare of all.”

A Brief Biographical Timeline

1880:  On June 27, Helen Keller is born in Tuscumbia, Alabama.

1882:   Following a bout of illness, Helen loses her sight and hearing.

1887:  Helen’s parents hire Anne Sullivan, a graduate of the Perkins School for the Blind, to be Helen’s tutor.  Anne begins by teaching Helen that objects have names and that she can use her fingers to spell them. Over time, Helen learns to communicate via sign language, to read and write in Braille, to touch-lip read, and to speak.

1900:  After attending schools in Boston and New York, Helen matriculates at Radcliffe College.

1903:  Helen’s first book, an autobiography called The Story of My Life , is published.

1904:  Helen graduates cum laude from Radcliffe, becoming the first deafblind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.

1915:  Helen, already a vocal advocate for people with disabilities, co-founds the American Foundation for Overseas Blind to support World War I veterans blinded in combat. This organization later becomes Helen Keller Intl and expands its mission to address the causes and consequences of blindness, malnutrition and poor health.

helen keller biography short essay

Help sustain — and build — Helen’s legacy.  Your donation now can transform the lives of vulnerable children and adults facing vision loss, malnutrition and diseases of poverty.

1920:  Helen helps found the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

1924:  Helen joins the American Foundation for the Blind. She serves as a spokesperson and ambassador for the foundation until her death.

1946:  Helen begins touring internationally on behalf of the American Foundation for Overseas Blind (see 1915 above), expanding her advocacy for people with vision impairment.  In 11 years, she will visit 35 countries on five continents.

1956:  Helen wins an Academy Award for a documentary film about her life.

1961:  Helen suffers a stroke and retires from public life.

1964:  Helen is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon Johnson.

1968:  On June 1, Helen dies peacefully at her home in Connecticut.  Her ashes are interred at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC.

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helen keller biography short essay

Helen Keller summary

helen keller biography short essay

Helen Keller , (born June 27, 1880, Tuscumbia, Ala., U.S.—died June 1, 1968, Westport, Conn.), U.S. author and educator who was blind and deaf. Keller was deprived by illness of sight and hearing at the age of 19 months, and her speech development soon ceased as well. Five years later she began to be instructed by Anne Sullivan (1866–1936), who taught her the names of objects by pressing the manual alphabet into her palm. Eventually Keller learned to read and write in Braille . She wrote several books, including The Story of My Life (1902). Her childhood was dramatized in William Gibson’s play The Miracle Worker (1959; film, 1962).

helen keller biography short essay

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The Story of My Life – FAQs

Q: What illness caused Helen Keller to become deaf and blind? A: Helen Keller became deaf and blind as a result of an illness she contracted at 19 months old, believed to be either scarlet fever or meningitis.

Q: Who was Anne Sullivan? A: Anne Sullivan was Helen Keller’s teacher and lifelong companion. She played a pivotal role in Keller’s education, teaching her to communicate using the manual alphabet and ultimately helping her to live a productive and meaningful life despite her disabilities.

Q: How did Helen Keller learn to communicate? A: Helen Keller learned to communicate through the tutelage of Anne Sullivan, who introduced her to the manual alphabet, a form of sign language. This breakthrough occurred when Keller connected the concept of water with the word Sullivan spelled into her hand.

Q: Did Helen Keller attend college? A: Yes, Helen Keller attended Radcliffe College, where she became the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Q: How did Helen Keller contribute to society? A: Beyond her autobiographical works, Keller was an advocate for people with disabilities, a lecturer, and a campaigner for women’s suffrage, labor rights, socialism, antimilitarism, and other causes. She worked tirelessly to improve the lives of those with disabilities, demonstrating that they could lead full and productive lives.

Q: Is “The Story of My Life” only about Helen Keller’s childhood? A: While “The Story of My Life” primarily focuses on Keller’s childhood and early education under Anne Sullivan, it also touches on her experiences as a young adult, her philosophical musings, and her advocacy work.

Q: How has Helen Keller’s story impacted the world? A: Helen Keller’s story has had a profound impact on the world by changing perceptions of the capabilities of people with disabilities. Her life and work have inspired countless individuals to overcome obstacles and have contributed to advancements in education and rights for people with disabilities.

Scarlet FeverMeningitisMeasles
Mary Swift Elizabeth GilbertSarah Fuller
19 months 5 years3 years
Harvard UniversityYale University Oxford University
MotherSun Love
Using a typewriter Lip-readingMorse code
Actress PoliticianTeacher
for descriptive purposes?Onomatopoeia OxymoronAllusion

This quiz is designed to test comprehension and understanding of “The Story of My Life” by Helen Keller, covering key aspects of her life, her educational journey, and her contributions to society.

Identify the literary devices used in the following paragraph from “The Story of My Life” by Helen Keller:

“The most beautiful world is always entered through imagination. For me, words are part of that high threshold which leads into the temple of the soul. Each word I learned was a nectar that fed my spirit, lifting me into realms beyond the shadows of my confinement. The sunrise of knowledge dawned upon me, casting a glorious light over the landscapes of my mind, previously untouched by the vivid hues of understanding.”

  • Metaphor : “The most beautiful world is always entered through imagination.” – Compares the act of imagining to entering a beautiful world.
  • Metaphor : “Words are part of that high threshold which leads into the temple of the soul.” – Compares learning words to entering a sacred place of the soul.
  • Personification : “Each word I learned was a nectar that fed my spirit,” – Words are given the quality of nectar, nourishing the spirit.
  • Metaphor : “The sunrise of knowledge dawned upon me,” – Compares gaining knowledge to a sunrise, symbolizing enlightenment and discovery.
  • Imagery : “Casting a glorious light over the landscapes of my mind, previously untouched by the vivid hues of understanding.” – Uses vivid imagery to describe the process of learning and understanding.

This exercise encourages students to explore the depth of Keller’s language, appreciating the literary techniques she employs to convey her experiences and emotions.

Helen Keller

  • Occupation: Activist
  • Born: June 27, 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabama
  • Died: June 1, 1968 in Arcan Ridge, Easton, Connecticut
  • Best known for: Accomplishing much despite being both deaf and blind.

Helen Keller

  • Annie Sullivan was often called the "Miracle Worker" for the way she was able to help Helen.
  • Helen became very famous. She met with every President of the United States from Grover Cleveland to Lyndon Johnson . That's a lot of presidents!
  • Helen starred in a movie about herself called Deliverance . Critics liked the movie, but not a lot of people went to see it.
  • She loved dogs. They were a great source of joy to her.
  • Helen became friends with famous people such as the inventor of the telephone Alexander Graham Bell and the author Mark Twain .
  • She wrote a book titled Teacher about Annie Sullivan's life.
  • Two films about Helen Keller won Academy Awards. One was a documentary called The Unconquered (1954) and the other was a drama called The Miracle Worker (1962) starring Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke.
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Helen Keller – an Inspirational Woman

  • Categories: Biography Helen Keller Heroes

About this sample


Words: 555 |

Published: Aug 6, 2021

Words: 555 | Page: 1 | 3 min read

Works Cited

  • Berger, E. (1998). Helen Keller: A Life. Penguin Books.
  • Herrmann, D. (1998). Helen Keller: A Photographic Story of a Life. DK Children.
  • Larsen, D. (2019). Helen Keller: A Biography. Routledge.
  • Keller, H. (1903). The Story of My Life. Doubleday, Page & Co.
  • Swift, H. G. (2008). The Life and Times of Helen Keller. Read Books.
  • Keller, H. (2003). The World I Live In. Dover Publications.
  • Herrmann, D. (2003). Helen Keller: Selected Writings. NYU Press.
  • Helen Keller International. (n.d.). About Helen Keller. Retrieved from https://www.hki.org/about-hki/helen-keller
  • National Women's History Museum. (n.d.). Helen Keller. Retrieved from https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/helen-keller
  • American Foundation for the Blind. (n.d.). Helen Keller: AFB and Helen Keller. Retrieved from https://www.afb.org/about-afb/history/helen-keller

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helen keller biography short essay

The Inspiring Story of Helen Keller

Editorial feature.

By Google Arts & Culture

LIFE Photo Collection

Discover the legacy of the author, political activist and lecturer

Helen Keller (1880–1968) was an American author, political activist and lecturer. At 19 months old, Keller contracted an unknown illness described by doctors as "an acute congestion of the stomach and the brain", which is now thought to have been scarlet fever or meningitis. The illness left her both deaf and blind, completely shaping the way Keller would live her life. Living in Tuscumbia, Alabama, by the age of seven Keller had already developed more than 60 home signs (self-developed gestures created in order to communicate) that she could use with her family. She also learned how to tell which person was walking into a room from the vibrations of their footsteps. Despite being blind and deaf, her family were determined she have the same opportunities as everyone else and so in 1886, inspired by an account in Charles Dickens’ American Notes of the successful education of a deaf and blind woman, they sent Keller and her father Arthur H. Keller to find physician J. Julian Chisolm (an eye, ear, nose and throat specialist) for advice. After being told to get in touch with the Perkins Institute for the Blind, the school’s director Michael Anagnos asked 20-year-old former student Anne Sullivan, herself visually impaired, to become Keller’s instructor. It was the beginning of a 49-year-long relationship, where Sullivan grew from governess to companion.

Helen Keller with Anne Sullivan and actor Joseph Jefferson (From the collection of LIFE Photo Collection)

It was 1887 by the time Sullivan and Keller first met at the girl’s house and teaching began with showing Keller to communicate by spelling words into her hand. The first word was “doll” for the doll Sullivan had bought Keller as a present. At first it was difficult because Keller didn't realize that every object had a word uniquely identifying it. A breakthrough moment came when Keller realized the motions Sullivan made on her one palm, while cool water ran over her other palm, symbolized the idea of water. She quickly demanded to know the names of all the other familiar objects in her world. From that point on Keller flourished in her education. In 1894, Keller and Sullivan moved to New York to attend the Wright-Humason School for the Deaf, and then to Boston two years later to be taught by Sarah Fuller at the Horace Mann School for the Deaf.

Helen Adams Keller (1904) by Charles Whitman Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery

Helen Keller (From the collection of Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery)

Soon after, Keller entered the Cambridge School for Young Ladies and then in 1900 gained admittance to Radcliffe College, Harvard University. Keller’s education was paid for by Standard Oil magnate Henry Huttleston Rogers and his wife, who she was introduced to via her friend American author Mark Twain. Keller and Twain were firm friends for around 16 years and she was able to recognize Twain in a room from the smell of his cigars. Those who didn’t know Keller well viewed her as isolated, but she was very in touch with the outside world. She was able to enjoy music by feeling the vibrations of the beat and she was able to have a strong connection with animals through touch. She was delayed at picking up language, but that did not stop her from having a voice. In 1904, at the age of 24, Keller was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree and throughout her education she had learnt to speak, leading her to give speeches and lectures on aspects of her life. Keller also learnt to “hear” other people’s speeches, by reading their lips with her hands. She also became proficient at using braille and reading sign language with her hands.

Helen Keller Documentary (1954-05-03) by Walter Sanders LIFE Photo Collection

Helen Keller (From the collection of LIFE Photo Collection)

After studying, Keller used her experiences and channelled them into becoming a speaker and author, and she became an advocate for people with disabilities. She was also politically active and considered herself a suffragette, pacifist and radical socialist, as well as a supporter of birth control. As a member of the Socialist Party, Keller actively campaigned and wrote in support of the working class from 1909 to 1921. Many of her speeches and writings were about women’s right to vote and the impacts of war. Always trying to improve, she had speech therapy in order to have her voice heard better by the public. With her radical views, the Rockefeller press refused to print her articles, but she protested until her work was finally published. Keller also sought to make even more of a difference and in 1915 age 35, she and George A Kessler founded the Helen Keller International Organization, which is devoted to research in vision, health and nutrition. Five years later, Keller went on to help found the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)—a nonprofit organization whose stated mission is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States."

By Alfred Eisenstaedt LIFE Photo Collection

Helen Keller in sculptor Jo Davidson's studio studying the bust of reporter Ernie Plyle (From the collection of LIFE Photo Collection)

In the years and decades following, Keller continued to make her voice heard through various books (she published 12 in total) and the talks she held. In total she travelled to over 40 countries, mostly accompanied by her lifelong companion Sullivan, who had remained a huge part of Keller’s life up until her death in 1936, when Keller held her hand in her final moments. Keller devoted much of her later life to raising funds for the American Foundation for the Blind, but after suffering a series of strokes in 1961 had to spend her remaining years at home. In 1964, President Lyndon B Johnson awarded Keller the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the United States’ two highest civilian honors. The following year she was elected to the National Women’s Hall of Fame and the New York World’s Fair.

Helen Keller (1952-02) by Larry Burrows LIFE Photo Collection

Helen Keller at 71 (From the collection of LIFE Photo Collection)

Keller died in her sleep on June 1, 1968 at her home Arcan Ridge in Connecticut, a few weeks short of her 88th birthday. A service was held in her honor at the National Cathedral in Washington DC and after cremation her ashes were placed next to her companion Sullivan. Keller’s lasting impact can be felt in the legacy of works she published, the speeches she made and the organisations she founded. Keller was a role model and proved to the world that deaf people are able to communicate just like everyone else and showed people they are just as capable given the right tools to do so.

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The Story of My Life

By helen keller.

  • The Story of My Life Summary

Helen Keller was born on June 27, 1880 in the small town of Tuscumbia, Alabama. When she was a year old, she was stricken with an illness that left her without sight or hearing. In the early years after her illness, it was difficult for her to communicate, even with her family; she lived her life entirely in the dark, often angry and frustrated with the fact that no one could understand her. Everything changed in March of 1887, when Helen's teacher, Anne Sullivan , came to live with the family in Alabama and turned Helen's world around.

Miss Sullivan taught Helen the names of objects by giving them to her and then spelling out the letters of their name in her hand. Helen learned to spell these words through imitation, without understanding what she was doing, but eventually had a breakthrough and realized that everything had a name, and that Miss Sullivan was teaching them to her. From this point on, Helen acquired language rapidly; she particularly enjoyed learning out in nature, where she and her teacher would take walks and she would ask questions about her surroundings. Soon after this, Helen learned how to read; Miss Sullivan taught her this by giving her strips of cardboard with raised letters on them, and then having her act out the sentence with objects. Soon, Helen could read entire books.

In May 1888, Helen went north to visit Boston with her mother and teacher. She spent some time studying at the Perkins Institute for the Blind, and quickly befriended the other blind girls who were her age. They spent a vacation at Brewster in Cape Cod, where Helen experienced the ocean for the first time. Following this, they spent nearly every winter up north.

Once she had learned to read, Helen was determined next to learn how to speak. Her teacher and many others believed it would be impossible for her to ever speak normally, but she resolved to reach that point. Miss Sullivan took her to the Horace Mann School in 1890 to begin learning with Miss Sarah Fuller , and Helen learned by feeling the position of Miss Fuller's lips and tongue when she spoke. The moment she spoke her first words, "It is warm," was a powerful memory for her: she was thrilled that she might be able to speak to her family and friends at last.

The winter of 1892 was a troubling time for Helen. Seemingly inspired by the beautiful fall foliage around her, she wrote a story called "The Frost King," and sent it up to her teacher at the Perkins Institute as a gift. It soon came out that Helen's story was quite like another in a published book, called "The Frost Fairies." Helen had been read the original story as a child, and the words had remained so ingrained in her mind that she'd unwittingly plagiarized them when she wrote her own story. This tainted Helen's relationship with her Perkins Institute teacher, Mr. Anagnos , and made her distrust her own mind and the originality of her thoughts for a long time.

In 1894 Helen attended the Wright-Humanson School for the Deaf in New York City, and began studying formal subjects like history, Latin, French, German, and arithmetic. In 1896, she began her studies at the Cambridge School for Young Ladies in Massachusetts, which would prepare her to eventually attend Radcliffe College, the women's college affiliated with Harvard University. This was her first time attending school with girls who could see or hear, rather than other students who were also deaf or blind. Though it was a challenge, she persevered; however, her mother eventually withdrew her from the Cambridge School to finish her Radcliffe preparation with a private tutor, because they did not agree with the Cambridge School principal's wish to lighten Helen's course load. She successfully qualified for Radcliffe in 1899, and entered college in the fall of 1900. Though college presented unique obstacles for Helen to overcome, she deeply appreciated her opportunity to attend.

Helen uses the final chapters of her memoir to discuss certain things that are particularly important to her, like her love of books, her favorite pastimes, and the friends she made who shaped her life. Two additional sections of the autobiography include Helen's personal letters written throughout her youth, as well as supplementary commentary by her editor, with a first-hand account by Helen's teacher, Anne Sullivan.

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The Story of My Life Questions and Answers

The Question and Answer section for The Story of My Life is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.

Describe the structure used to organize helen's story

The structure is in three parts . The first two, Miss Keller's story and the extracts from her letters, form a complete account of her life as far as she can give it. Her style is called Affectionate Recollection. Despite the hardships Keller...

How many pages is this book?

This really depends on the publication of the book you have. Different publications have different number of pages.

The Story of My Life by Helen Keller

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Study Guide for The Story of My Life

The Story of My Life study guide contains a biography of Helen Keller, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

  • About The Story of My Life
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Essay on Helen Keller | Helen Keller Essay for Students and Children in English

February 12, 2024 by sastry

Essay on Helen Keller: “The public must learn that the blind man is neither genius nor a freak nor an idiot. He has a mind that can be educated it is the duty of the public to help him make the best of himself.” These words by Helen Keller echo the fact that disability need not be the end of the world. But one can overcome all hurdles through one’s spirit. – The Indomitable Spirit

You can read more  Essay Writing  about articles, events, people, sports, technology many more.

Long and Short Essays on Helen Keller for Kids and Students in English

Given below are two essays in English for students and children about the topic of ‘Helen Keller’ in both long and short form. The first essay is a long essay on the Helen Keller of 400-500 words. This long essay about Helen Keller is suitable for students of class 7, 8, 9 and 10, and also for competitive exam aspirants. The second essay is a short essay on Helen Keller of 150-200 words. These are suitable for students and children in class 6 and below.

Long Essay on Helen Keller 500 Words in English

Below we have given a long essay on Helen Keller of 500 words is helpful for classes 7, 8, 9 and 10 and Competitive Exam Aspirants. This long essay on the topic is suitable for students of class 7 to class 10, and also for competitive exam aspirants.

Born on 27th June 1880 in Tuscumbia, USA, daughter of captain Arthur Henley Keller and Kate Adams Keller, she was born with full sight and hearing. The family lived in a house, Ivy Green, that was built decades ago by her grandfather. She had two younger siblings and two older half brothers.

They were leading a quiet life. But this was soon going to be short lived. In February 1882, when Helen was nineteen months old, she fell ill. To this day, the nature of her ailment remains a mystery. The doctors of that time called it ‘brain fever’, while today’s doctors think it may have been scarlet fever or meningitis. Whatever the illness, Helen was expected to die. When eventually, the fever subsided, Helen’s family was believed that their daughter was well again.

However, Helen’s mother soon noticed that her daughter failed to respond when the dinner bell rang or when she passed her hand in front of her daughter’s eyes. Helen became a very difficult child, smashing dishes, lamps and terrorising the household with her screaming and temper tantrums. Relatives regarded her as a monster and said that she should be put into an institution. By the time Helen was six, her family had become desperate.

Looking after Helen was proving too much for them. So her mother travelled to a specialist doctor for advice. They were given confirmation that Helen could never see or hear again. But the doctor believed that Helen could be taught and he advised them to visit a local expert on the problems of dumb children. This expert was Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of telephone.

Bell suggested that the Kellers write to Michael Anagnos, Director of the Perkins Institution and Massachustts Asylum for the Blind and request him for another teacher. He considered Helen’s case and immediately recommended a former pupil of the institution, Anne Sullivan. On 3rd March, 1887, Anne met Helen Keller for the first time. Anne immediately started teaching Helen to finger spell. Spelling out the word ‘Doll’ to signify a present she had brought with her for Helen.

The next word she taught Helen was ‘Cake.’ Although Helen could repeat these finger movements, she could not quite understand what they meant. What frustrated her was that every object had a unique word for it. When Anne was teaching her the word ‘mug’, Keller broke the doll in rage.

Anne and Helen then moved into a small cottage on the mainland house to try and get Helen to improve her behaviour of particular concern were Helen’s table manners. She had taken to eating with her hands and from the plates of everyone on the table. Over the coming weeks, however, Helen’s behaviour did begin to improve as a bond grew between the two. Then after a month of Anne’s teaching, what the people of the time called, a ‘miracle’ occurred. Helen had until now not yet fully understood the meaning of words.

When Anne led her to the water pump on 5th April, 1887, a drastic change occured. As the cool stream gushed into Helen’s one hand, Anne slowly spelled the word ‘water’ on ‘Helen’s hand’. Helen suddenly, felt that the mystery of the language was revealed to her. Within the next few hours, Helen learnt the spelling of thirty new words.

Helen’s progress from then on was astonishing. Her ability to learn was far in advance of anything that anybody had seen before in someone without sight or hearing. Soon, she could write with both ordinary and braille typewriters. Helen had now become a phenomenon to reckon with. Her next achievement which brought her laurels from all over the world was when she moved to the Cambridge school for young ladies in 1896 and in the Autumn of 1900 entered the Radcliffe college, becoming the first deaf and blind person to have ever enrolled at an institution of higher learning. In 1904, Helen graduated from the college, becoming the first deaf-blind person to have a Bachelor’s degree.

She maintained contacts with Austrian philosopher Wilhelm Jerusalem, who was one of the first people to discover her literary skills. With her, determination, she learnt to speak and gave lectures and speeches. She ‘heard’ others speeches by feeling their lips with her hands. She became adept at Braille and sign language. She could also feel music by placing her hands on top of a resonant table.

Short Essay on Helen Keller 200 Words in English

Below we have given a short essay on Helen Keller is for Classes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. This short essay on the topic is suitable for students of class 6 and below.

She was an advocate for people with disabilities. In 1915, she and George Kessler founded Helen Keller International (HKI) organisation. This organisation undertakes research in vision, health and nutrition. She also helped in the foundation of American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in 1940. She was a member of the Socialist Party and supported the working class.

She published 12 books and several articles. One of her earliest writings was ‘The Frost King’, which she wrote when she was only 11 years old.

During her college time, Helen also started working on her first book ‘The Story of My Life,’ which later became a classic. After this success, Helen and Anne went on lecture tours throughout the world speaking on their experiences. In 1908, she wrote ‘The World I live in’. Her essay series on Socialism, ‘Out of the Dark’ was published in 1913. Her spiritual autobiography, ‘My Religion’ was published in 1927, and revised edition, right in My Darkness came out in 1994. In October 1961, Helen suffered the first of a series of strokes, and her public life was drawn to a close. On 1 st June 1968, at Arcon ridge, Helen Keller died peacefully in her sleep.

Today, Helen’s final resting place is a popular tourist attraction. Her life has inspired many. In 1962, the play ‘The Miracle Worker’ was made into a film and was a phenomenal success. More recently in India, the film ‘Black’ was made on her life.

Her achievements and admiration prompt us to ask the question what else could somebody desire from life? It’s so true that some of the best things in the world can’t be seen or touched, they can only be felt with the heart.

Helen Keller Essay Word Meanings for Simple Understanding

  • Hurdle – a difficult problem to be overcome
  • Ailment – a physical disorder or illness
  • Tantrum – a violent demonstration of rage or frustration, a sudden burst of ill temper
  • Desperate – having an urgent need, desire, etc
  • Frustrated – dissatisfied
  • Drastic – extremely severe or extensive
  • Astonishing – causing surprise, amazing
  • Phenomenon – something that is impressive or extraordinary
  • Adept – very skilled
  • Resonant – causing amplification or sustension of sound
  • Phenomenal – highly extraordinary or prodigious, exceptional
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How Helen Keller Learned to Write

By Cynthia Ozick

An illustration of Helen Keller

Suspicion stalks fame; incredulity stalks great fame. At least three times—at the ages of eleven, twenty-three, and fifty-two—Helen Keller was assaulted by accusation, doubt, and overt disbelief. She was the butt of skeptics and the cynosure of idolaters. Mark Twain compared her to Joan of Arc, and pronounced her “fellow to Caesar, Alexander, Napoleon, Homer, Shakespeare and the rest of the immortals.” Her renown, he said, would endure a thousand years.

It has, so far, lasted more than a hundred, while steadily dimming. Fifty years ago, even twenty, nearly every ten-year-old knew who Helen Keller was. “The Story of My Life,” her youthful autobiography, was on the reading lists of most schools, and its author was popularly understood to be a heroine of uncommon grace and courage, a sort of worldly saint. Much of that worshipfulness has receded. No one nowadays, without intending satire, would place her alongside Caesar and Napoleon; and, in an era of earnest disabilities legislation, who would think to charge a stone-blind, stone-deaf woman with faking her experience?

Yet as a child she was accused of plagiarism, and in maturity of “verbalism”—substituting parroted words for firsthand perception. All this came about because she was at once liberated by language and in bondage to it, in a way few other human beings can fathom. The merely blind have the window of their ears, the merely deaf listen through their eyes. For Helen Keller there was no ameliorating “merely”; what she suffered was a totality of exclusion. The illness that annihilated her sight and hearing, and left her mute, has never been diagnosed. In 1882, when she was four months short of two years, medical knowledge could assert only “acute congestion of the stomach and brain,” though later speculation proposes meningitis or scarlet fever. Whatever the cause, the consequence was ferocity—tantrums, kicking, rages—but also an invented system of sixty simple signs, intimations of intelligence. The child could mimic what she could neither see nor hear: putting on a hat before a mirror, her father reading a newspaper with his glasses on. She could fold laundry and pick out her own things. Such quiet times were few. Having discovered the use of a key, she shut up her mother in a closet. She overturned her baby sister’s cradle. Her wants were physical, impatient, helpless, and nearly always belligerent.

She was born in Tuscumbia, Alabama, fifteen years after the Civil War, when Confederate consciousness was still inflamed. Her father, who had fought at Vicksburg, called himself a “gentleman farmer,” and edited a small Democratic weekly until, thanks to political influence, he was appointed a United States marshal. He was a zealous hunter who loved his guns and his dogs. Money was usually short; there were escalating marital angers. His second wife, Helen’s mother, was younger by twenty years, a spirited woman of intellect condemned to farmhouse toil. She had a strong literary side (Edward Everett Hale, the New Englander who wrote “The Man Without a Country,” was a relative) and read seriously and searchingly. In Charles Dickens’s “American Notes,” she learned about Laura Bridgman, a deaf-blind country girl who was being educated at the Perkins Institution for the Blind, in Boston. Ravaged by scarlet fever at the age of two, she was even more circumscribed than Helen Keller—she could neither smell nor taste. She was confined, Dickens said, “in a marble cell, impervious to any ray of light, or particle of sound,” lost to language beyond a handful of words unidiomatically strung together.

News of Laura Bridgman ignited hope—she had been socialized into a semblance of personhood, while Helen remained a small savage—and hope led, eventually, to Alexander Graham Bell. By then, the invention of the telephone was well behind him, and he was tenaciously committed to teaching the deaf to speak intelligibly. His wife was deaf; his mother had been deaf. When the six-year-old Helen was brought to him, he took her on his lap and instantly calmed her by letting her feel the vibrations of his pocket watch as it struck the hour. Her responsiveness did not register in her face; he described it as “chillingly empty.” But he judged her educable, and advised her father to apply to Michael Anagnos, the director of the Perkins Institution, for a teacher to be sent to Tuscumbia.

Anagnos chose Anne Mansfield Sullivan, a former student at Perkins. “Mansfield” was her own embellishment; it had the sound of gentility. If the fabricated name was intended to confer an elevated status, it was because Annie Sullivan, born into penury, had no status at all. At five, she contracted trachoma, a disease of the eye. Three years on, her mother died of tuberculosis and was buried in potter’s field—after which her father, a drunkard prone to beating his children, deserted the family. The half-blind Annie was tossed into the poorhouse at Tewksbury, Massachusetts, among syphilitic prostitutes and madmen. Decades later, recalling its “strangeness, grotesqueness and even terribleness,” Annie Sullivan wrote, “I doubt if life or for that matter eternity is long enough to erase the terrors and ugly blots scored upon my mind during those dismal years from 8 to 14.”

She was rescued from Tewksbury by a committee investigating its spreading notoriety, and was mercifully transferred to Perkins. She learned Braille and the manual alphabet—finger positions representing letters—and, at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, underwent two operations, which enabled her to read almost normally, though the condition of her eyes was fragile and inconsistent over her lifetime. After six years, she graduated from Perkins as class valedictorian. But what was to become of her? How was she to earn a living? Someone suggested that she might wash dishes or peddle needlework. “Sewing and crocheting are inventions of the devil,” she sneered. “I’d rather break stones on the king’s highway than hem a handkerchief.”

She went to Tuscumbia instead. She was twenty years old and had no experience suitable for what she would encounter in the despairs and chaotic defeats of the Keller household. The child she had come to educate threw cutlery, pinched, grabbed food off dinner plates, sent chairs tumbling, shrieked, struggled. She was strong, beautiful but for one protruding eye, unsmiling, painfully untamed: virtually her first act on meeting the new teacher was to knock out one of her front teeth. The afflictions of the marble cell had become inflictions. Annie demanded that Helen be separated from her family; her father could not bear to see his ruined little daughter disciplined. The teacher and her recalcitrant pupil retreated to a cottage on the grounds of the main house, where Annie was to be the sole authority.

What happened then and afterward she chronicled in letter after letter, to Anagnos and, more confidingly, to Mrs. Sophia Hopkins, the Perkins housemother who had given her shelter during school vacations. Mark Twain saw in Annie Sullivan a writer: “How she stands out in her letters!” he exclaimed. “Her brilliancy, penetration, originality, wisdom, character and the fine literary competencies of her pen—they are all there.” Jubilantly, she set down the progress, almost hour by hour, of an exuberant deliverance far more remarkable than Laura Bridgman’s frail and inarticulate release. Annie Sullivan’s method, insofar as she recognized it formally as a method, was pure freedom. Like any writer, she wrote and wrote and wrote, all day long: words, phrases, sentences, lines of poetry, descriptions of animals, trees, flowers, weather, skies, clouds, concepts—whatever lay before her or came usefully to mind. She wrote not on paper with a pen but with her fingers, spelling rapidly into the child’s alert palm. Mimicking unknowable configurations, Helen spelled the same letters back—but not until a connection was effected between finger-wriggling and its referent did mind break free.

This was, of course, the fabled incident at the well pump, when Helen suddenly understood that the pecking at her hand was inescapably related to the gush of cold water spilling over it. “Somehow,” the adult Helen Keller recollected, “the mystery of language was revealed to me.” In the course of a single month, from Annie’s arrival to her triumph in bridling the household despot, Helen had grown docile, affectionate, and tirelessly intent on learning from moment to moment. Her intellect was fiercely engaged, and when language began to flood it she rode on a salvational ark of words.

To Mrs. Hopkins, Annie wrote ecstatically:

Something within me tells me that I shall succeed beyond my dreams. . . . I know that [Helen] has remarkable powers, and I believe that I shall be able to develop and mould them. I cannot tell how I know these things. I had no idea a short time ago how to go to work; I was feeling about in the dark; but somehow I know now, and I know that I know. I cannot explain it; but when difficulties arise, I am not perplexed or doubtful. I know how to meet them; I seem to divine Helen’s peculiar needs. . . .
Already people are taking a deep interest in Helen. No one can see her without being impressed. She is no ordinary child, and people’s interest in her education will be no ordinary interest. Therefore let us be exceedingly careful in what we say and write about her. . . . My beautiful Helen shall not be transformed into a prodigy if I can help it.

At this time, Helen was not yet seven years old, and Annie was being paid twenty-five dollars a month.

The public scrutiny Helen Keller aroused far exceeded Annie’s predictions. It was Michael Anagnos who first proclaimed her to be a miracle child—a young goddess. “History presents no case like hers,” he exulted. “As soon as a slight crevice was opened in the outer wall of their twofold imprisonment, her mental faculties emerged full-armed from their living tomb as Pallas Athene from the head of Zeus.” And again: “She is the queen of precocious and brilliant children, Emersonian in temper, most exquisitely organized, with intellectual sight of unsurpassed sharpness and infinite reach, a true daughter of Mnemosyne.” Annie, the teacher of a flesh-and-blood child, protested: “His extravagant way of saying [these things] rubs me the wrong way. The simple facts would be so much more convincing!” But Anagnos’s glorifications caught fire: one year after Annie had begun spelling into her hand, Helen Keller was celebrated in newspapers all over America and Europe. When her dog was inadvertently shot, an avalanche of contributions poured in to replace it; unprompted, she directed that the money be set aside for the care of an impoverished deaf-blind boy at Perkins. At eight, she was taken to visit President Cleveland at the White House, and in Boston was introduced to many of the luminaries of the period: Oliver Wendell Holmes, John Greenleaf Whittier, Edward Everett Hale, and Bishop Phillips Brooks (who addressed her puzzlement over the nature of God). At nine, she wrote to Whittier, saluting him as “Dear Poet”:

I thought you would be glad to hear that your beautiful poems make me very happy. Yesterday I read “In School Days” and “My Playmate,” and I enjoyed them greatly. . . . It is very pleasant to live here in our beautiful world. I cannot see the lovely things with my eyes, but my mind can see them all, and so I am joyful all the day long.
When I walk out in my garden I cannot see the beautiful flowers, but I know that they are all around me; for is not the air sweet with their fragrance? I know too that the tiny lily-bells are whispering pretty secrets to their companions else they would not look so happy. I love you very dearly, because you have taught me so many lovely things about flowers and birds, and people.

Her dependence on Annie for the assimilation of her immediate surroundings was nearly total, but through the raised letters of Braille she could be altogether untethered: books coursed through her. In childhood, she was captivated by “Little Lord Fauntleroy,” Frances Hodgson Burnett’s story of a sunnily virtuous boy who melts a crusty old man’s heart; it became a secret template of her own character as she hoped she might always manifest it—not sentimentally but in full awareness of dread. She was not deaf to Caliban’s wounded cry: “You taught me language, and my profit on’t / Is, I know how to curse.” Helen Keller’s profit was that she knew how to rejoice. In young adulthood, she seized on Swedenborgian spiritualism. Annie had kept away from teaching any religion at all: she was a down-to-earth agnostic whom Tewksbury had cured of easy belief. When Helen’s responsiveness to bitter social deprivation later took on a worldly strength, leading her to socialism, and even to unpopular Bolshevik sympathies, Annie would have no part of it, and worried that Helen had gone too far. Marx was not in Annie’s canon. Homer, Virgil, Shakespeare, and Milton were: she had Helen reading “Paradise Lost” at twelve.

But Helen’s formal schooling was widening beyond Annie’s tutelage. With her teacher at her side—and the financial support of such patrons as John Spaulding, the Sugar King, and Henry Rogers, of Standard Oil—Helen spent a year at Perkins, and then entered the Wright-Humason School, in New York, a fashionable academy for deaf girls; she was its single deaf-blind pupil. She was also determined to learn to speak like other people, but her efforts could not be readily understood. Speech was not her only ambition: she intended to go to college. To prepare, she enrolled in the Cambridge School for Young Ladies, where she studied mathematics, German, French, Latin, and Greek and Roman history. In 1900, she was admitted to Radcliffe (then an “annex” to Harvard), still with Annie in attendance. Despite Annie’s presence in every class, diligently spelling the lecture into Helen’s hand, and wearing out her troubled eyes as she transcribed text after text into the manual alphabet, no one thought of granting her a degree along with Helen: the radiant miracle outshone the driven miracle worker. It was not uncommon for Annie Sullivan to play second fiddle to Helen Keller, or to be charged with being Helen’s jailer, or harrier, or ventriloquist. During examinations at Radcliffe, Annie was not permitted to be in the building. Otherwise, Helen relied on her own extraordinary memory and on Annie’s lightning fingers. Luckily, a second helper soon turned up: he was John Macy, a twenty-five-year-old English instructor at Harvard, a writer and editor, a fervent socialist, and, eventually, Annie Sullivan’s husband, eleven years her junior.

At Radcliffe, Helen became a writer. Charles Townsend Copeland—Harvard’s illustrious Copey, a professor of rhetoric—had encouraged her (as she put it to him in a grateful letter) “to make my own observations and describe the experiences peculiarly my own. Henceforth I am resolved to be myself, to live my own life and write my own thoughts.” Out of this came “The Story of My Life,” the autobiography of a twenty-one-year-old, published while she was still an undergraduate. It began as a series of sketches for the Ladies ’ Home Journal; the fee was three thousand dollars. John Macy described the laborious process:

When she began work at her story, more than a year ago, she set up on the Braille machine about a hundred pages of what she called “material,” consisting of detached episodes and notes put down as they came to her without definite order or coherent plan. . . . Then came the task where one who has eyes to see must help her. Miss Sullivan and I read the disconnected passages, put them into chronological order, and counted the words to be sure the articles should be the right length. All this work we did with Miss Keller beside us, referring everything, especially matters of phrasing, to her for revision. . . .
Her memory of what she had written was astonishing. She remembered whole passages, some of which she had not seen for many weeks, and could tell, before Miss Sullivan had spelled into her hand a half-dozen words of the paragraphs under discussion, where they belonged and what sentences were necessary to make the connections clear.

This method of collaboration continued throughout Helen Keller’s professional writing life; yet within these constraints the design and the sensibility were her own. She was a self-conscious stylist. Macy remarked that she had the courage of her metaphors—he meant that she sometimes let them carry her away—and Helen herself worried that her prose could now and then seem “periwigged.” To the contemporary ear, there is too much Victorian lace and striving uplift in her cadences; but the contemporary ear is scarcely entitled, simply by being contemporary, to set itself up as judge—every period is marked by a prevailing voice. Helen Keller’s earnestness is a kind of piety. It is as if Tennyson and the transcendentalists had together got hold of her typewriter. At the same time, she is embroiled in the whole range of human perplexity—except, tellingly, for irony. She has no “edge,” and why should she? Irony is a radar that seeks out the dark side; she had darkness enough. She rarely knew what part of her mind was instinct and what part was information, and she was cautious about the difference. “It is certain,” she wrote, “that I cannot always distinguish my own thoughts from those I read, because what I read becomes the very substance and texture of my mind. . . . It seems to me that the great difficulty of writing is to make the language of the educated mind express our confused ideas, half feelings, half thoughts, where we are little more than bundles of instinctive tendencies.” She who had once been incarcerated in the id did not require Freud to instruct her in its inchoate presence.

“The Story of My Life,” first published in 1903, is being honored in its centenary year by two new reissues, one from the Modern Library, edited and with a preface by James Berger, and the other from W. W. Norton, edited by Roger Shattuck with Dorothy Herrmann; Shattuck also supplies a thoughtful foreword and afterword. Much else accompanies the Keller text: Macy’s ample contribution to the original edition, as well as Annie’s indelible reports and Helen’s increasingly impressive letters from childhood on. All these elements together make up at least a partial biography, though they do not take us into Helen Keller’s astonishing future as world traveller and energetic advocate for the blind. (Two full biographies, “Helen Keller: A Life,” by Dorothy Herrmann, and “Helen and Teacher,” by Joseph P. Lash, flesh out her long and active life.) Macy was able to write about Helen nearly as authoritatively as Annie, but also (in private) more skeptically: after his marriage, the three of them, a feverishly literary crew, set up housekeeping in rural Wrentham, Massachusetts. Macy soon discovered that he had married not just a woman, and a moody one at that, but the infrastructure of a public institution. As Helen’s secondary amanuensis, he continued to be of use until the marriage foundered—on his profligacy with money, on Annie’s irritability (she scorned his uncompromising socialism), and, finally, on his accelerating alcoholism.

Because Macy was known to have assisted Helen in the preparation of “The Story of My Life,” the insinuations of control that often assailed Annie landed on him. Helen’s ideas, it was suggested, were really Macy’s; he had transformed her into a “Marxist propagandist.” It was true that she sympathized with his political bent, but she had arrived at her views independently. The charge of expropriation, of both thought and idiom, was old, and dogged her at intervals during her early and middle years: she was a fraud, a puppet, a plagiarist. She was false coin. She was “a living lie.”

Helen Keller was eleven when these words were first hurled at her by an infuriated Michael Anagnos. What brought on this defection was a little story she had written, called “The Frost King,” which she sent him as a birthday present. In the voice of a highly literary children’s narrative, it recounts how the “frost fairies” cause the season’s turning:

When the children saw the trees all aglow with brilliant colors they clapped their hands and shouted for joy, and immediately began to pick great bunches to take home. “The leaves are as lovely as the flowers!” cried they, in their delight.

Anagnos—doubtless clapping his hands and shouting for joy—immediately began to publicize Helen’s newest accomplishment. “The Frost King” appeared both in the Perkins alumni magazine and in another journal for the blind, which, following Anagnos, unhesitatingly named it “without parallel in the history of literature.” But more than a parallel was at stake; the story was found to be nearly identical to “The Frost Fairies,” by Margaret Canby, a writer of children’s books. Anagnos was humiliated, and fled headlong from adulation to excoriation. Feeling personally betrayed and institutionally discredited, he arranged an inquisition for the terrified Helen, standing her alone in a room before a jury of eight Perkins officials and himself, all mercilessly cross-examining her. Her mature recollection of Anagnos’s “court of investigation” registers as pitiably as the ordeal itself:

Mr. Anagnos, who loved me tenderly, thinking that he had been deceived, turned a deaf ear to the pleadings of love and innocence. He believed, or at least suspected, that Miss Sullivan and I had deliberately stolen the bright thoughts of another and imposed them on him to win his admiration. . . . As I lay in my bed that night, I wept as I hope few children have wept. I felt so cold, I imagined I should die before morning, and the thought comforted me. I think if this sorrow had come to me when I was older, it would have broken my spirit beyond repairing.

She was defended by Alexander Graham Bell, and by Mark Twain, who parodied the whole procedure with a thumping hurrah for plagiarism, and disgust for the egotism of “these solemn donkeys breaking a little child’s heart with their ignorant damned rubbish! . . . A gang of dull and hoary pirates piously setting themselves the task of disciplining and purifying a kitten that they think they’ve caught filching a chop!” Margaret Canby’s tale had been spelled to Helen perhaps three years before, and lay dormant in her prodigiously retentive memory; she was entirely oblivious of reproducing phrases not her own. The scandal Anagnos had precipitated left a lasting bruise. But it was also the beginning of a psychological, even a metaphysical, clarification that Helen refined and ratified as she grew older, when similar, if subtler, suspicions cropped up in the press. “The Story of My Life” was attacked in The Nation not for plagiarism in the usual sense but for the purloining of “things beyond her powers of perception with the assurance of one who has verified every word. . . . One resents the pages of second-hand description of natural objects.” The reviewer blamed her for the sin of vicariousness. “All her knowledge,” he insisted, “is hearsay knowledge.”

It was almost a reprise of the Perkins tribunal: she was again being confronted with the charge of inauthenticity. Anagnos’s rebuke—“Helen Keller is a living lie”—regularly resurfaced, in the form of a neurologist’s or a psychologist’s assessment, or in the reservations of reviewers. A French professor of literature, who was himself blind, determined that she was “a dupe of words, and her aesthetic enjoyment of most of the arts is a matter of auto-suggestion rather than perception.” A New Yorker interviewer complained, “She talks bookishly. . . . To express her ideas, she falls back on the phrases she has learned from books, and uses words that sound stilted, poetical metaphors.”

But the cruellest appraisal of all came, in 1933, from Thomas Cutsforth, a blind psychologist. By this time, Helen was fifty-two, and had published four additional autobiographical volumes. Cutsforth disparaged everything she had become. The wordless child she once was, he maintained, was closer to reality than what her teacher had made of her through the imposition of “word-mindedness.” He objected to her use of images such as “a mist of green,” “blue pools of dog violets,” “soft clouds tumbling.” All that, he protested, was “implied chicanery” and “a birthright sold for a mess of verbiage.” He criticized

the aims of the educational system in which [Helen Keller] has been confined during her whole life. Literary expression has been the goal of her formal education. Fine writing, regardless of its meaningful content, has been the end toward which both she and her teacher have striven. . . . Her own experiential life was rapidly made secondary, and it was regarded as such by the victim. . . . Her teacher’s ideals became her ideals, her teacher’s likes became her likes, and whatever emotional activity her teacher experienced she experienced.

For Cutsforth—and not only for him—she was the victim of language rather than its victorious master. She was no better than a copy; whatever was primary, and thereby genuine, had been stamped out. As for Annie, while here she was pilloried as her pupil’s victimizer, elsewhere she was pitied as a woman cheated of her own life by having sacrificed it to serve another. Either Helen was Annie’s slave or Annie was Helen’s.

Helen knew what she saw. Once, having been taken to the uppermost viewing platform of what was then the tallest building in the world, she defined her condition:

I will concede that my guides saw a thousand things that escaped me from the top of the Empire State Building, but I am not envious. For imagination creates distances that reach to the end of the world. . . . There was the Hudson—more like the flash of a swordblade than a noble river. The little island of Manhattan, set like a jewel in its nest of rainbow waters, stared up into my face, and the solar system circled about my head!

Her rebuttal to word-mindedness, to vicariousness, to implied chicanery and the living lie, was inscribed deliberately and defiantly in her images of “swordblade” and “rainbow waters.” The deaf-blind person, she wrote, “seizes every word of sight and hearing, because his sensations compel it. Light and color, of which he has no tactual evidence, he studies fearlessly, believing that all humanly knowable truth is open to him.” She was not ashamed of talking bookishly: it meant a ready access to the storehouse of history and literature. She disposed of her critics with a dazzling apothegm—“The bulk of the world’s knowledge is an imaginary construction”—and went on to contend that history itself “is but a mode of imagining, of making us see civilizations that no longer appear upon the earth.” Those who ridiculed her rendering of color she dismissed as “spirit-vandals” who would force her “to bite the dust of material things.” Her idea of the subjective onlooker was broader than that of physics, and while “red” may denote an explicit and measurable wavelength in the visible spectrum, in the mind it varies from the bluster of rage to the reticence of a blush: physics cannot cage metaphor.

She saw, then, what she wished, or was blessed, to see, and rightly named it imagination. In this she belongs to a broader class than that narrow order of the deaf-blind. Her class, her tribe, hears what no healthy ear can catch and sees what no eye chart can quantify. Her common language was not with the man who crushed a child for memorizing what the fairies do, or with the carpers who scolded her for the crime of a literary vocabulary. She was a member of the race of poets, the Romantic kind; she was close cousin to those novelists who write not only what they do not know but what they cannot possibly know.

And though she was early taken in hand by a writerly intelligence, it was hardly in the power of the manual alphabet to pry out a writer who was not already there. Laura Bridgman stuck to her lacemaking, and with all her senses intact might have remained a needlewoman. John Macy believed finally that between Helen and Annie there was only one genius—his wife. In the absence of Annie’s inventiveness and direction, he implied, Helen’s efforts would show up as the lesser gifts they were. This did not happen. Annie died, at seventy, in 1936, four years after Macy; they had long been estranged. Depressed, obese, cranky, and inconsolable, she had herself gone blind. Helen came under the care of her secretary, Polly Thomson, a loyal but unliterary Scotswoman: the scenes she spelled into Helen’s hand never matched Annie’s quicksilver evocations.

Even as Helen mourned the loss of her teacher, she flourished. With the assistance of Nella Henney, Annie Sullivan’s biographer, she continued to publish journals and memoirs. She undertook gruelling visits to Japan, India, Israel, Europe, Australia, everywhere championing the disabled and the dispossessed. She was indefatigable until her very last years, and died in 1968, weeks before her eighty-eighth birthday.

Yet the story of her life is not the good she did, the panegyrics she inspired, or the disputes (genuine or counterfeit? victim or victimizer?) that stormed around her. The most persuasive story of Helen Keller’s life is what she said it was: “I observe, I feel, I think, I imagine.” She was an artist. She imagined.

“Blindness has no limiting effect upon mental vision,” she argued again and again. “My intellectual horizon is infinitely wide. The universe it encircles is immeasurable.” And, like any writer making imagination’s mysterious claims before the material-minded, she had cause to cry out, “Oh, the supercilious doubters!”

Nevertheless, she was a warrior in a vaster and more vexing conflict. Do we know only what we see, or do we see what we somehow already know? Are we more than the sum of our senses? Does a picture—whatever strikes the retina—engender thought, or does thought create the picture? Can there be subjectivity without an object to glance off? Theorists have their differing notions, to which the ungraspable organism that is Helen Keller is a retort. She is not an advocate for one side or the other in the ancient debate concerning the nature of the real. She is not a philosophical or neurological or therapeutic topic. She stands for enigma; there lurks in her still the angry child who demanded to be understood yet could not be deciphered. She refutes those who cannot perceive, or do not care to value, what is hidden from sensation: collective memory, heritage, literature.

Helen Keller’s lot, it turns out, was not unique. “We work in the dark,” Henry James affirmed, on behalf of his own art; and so did she. It was the same dark. She knew her Wordsworth: “Visionary power / Attends the motions of the viewless winds, / Embodied in the mystery of words: / There, darkness makes abode.” She vivified Keats’s phantom theme of negative capability, the poet’s oarless casting about for the hallucinatory shadows of desire. She fought the debunkers who, for the sake of a spurious honesty, would denude her of landscape and return her to the marble cell. She fought the literalists who took imagination for mendacity, who meant to disinherit her, and everyone, of poetry. Her legacy, after all, is an epistemological marker of sorts: proof of the real existence of the mind’s eye.

In one respect, though, she was as fraudulent as the cynics charged. She had always been photographed in profile; this hid her disfigured left eye. In maturity, she had both eyes surgically removed and replaced with glass—an expedient known only to her intimates. Everywhere she went, her sparkling blue prosthetic eyes were admired for their living beauty and humane depth. ♦

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Optimism (1903)


Part I Optimism Within

Could we choose our environment, and were desire in human undertakings synonymous with endowment, all men would, I suppose, be optimists. Certainly most of us regard happiness as the proper end of all earthly enterprise. The will to be happy animates alike the philosopher, the prince and the chimney-sweep. No matter how dull, or how mean, or how wise a man is, he feels that happiness is his indisputable right.

It is curious to observe what different ideals of happiness people cherish, and in what singular places they look for this well-spring of their life. Many look for it in the hoarding of riches, some in the pride of power, and others in the achievements if art and literature; a few seek it in the exploration of their own minds, or in search for knowledge.

Most people measure their happiness in terms of physical pleasure and material possession. Could they win some visible goal which they have set on the horizon, how happy they could be! Lacking this gift or that circumstance, they would be miserable. If happiness is to be so measured, I who cannot hear or see have every reason to sit in a corner with folded hands and weep. If I am happy in spite of my deprivations, if my happiness is so deep that it is a faith, so thoughtful that it becomes a philosophy of life, - if, in short, I am an optimist, my testimony to the creed of optimism is worth hearing. As sinners stand up in meeting and testify to the goodness of God, so one who is called afflicted may rise up in gladness of conviction and testify to the goodness of life.

Once I knew the depth where no hope was, and darkness lay on the face of all things. Then love came and set my soul free. Once I knew only darkness and stillness. Now I know hope and joy. Once I fretted and beat myself against the wall that shut me in. Now I rejoice in the consciousness that I can think, act and attain heaven. My life was without past or future; death, the pessimist would say, "a consummation devoutly to be wished." But a little word from the fingers of another fell into my hand that clutched at emptiness, and my heart leaped to the rapture of living. Night fled before the day of thought, and love and joy and hope came up in a passion of obedience to knowledge. Can anyone who escaped such captivity, who has felt the thrill and glory of freedom, be a pessimist?

My early experience was thus a leap from bad to good. If I tried, I could not check the momentum of my first leap out of the dark; to move breast forward as a habit learned suddenly at that first moment of release and rush into the light. With the first word I used intelligently, I learned to live, to think, to hope. Darkness cannot shut me in again. I have had a glimpse of the shore, and can now live by the hope of reaching it.

So my optimism is no mild and unreasoning satisfaction. A poet once said I must be happy because I did not see the bare, cold present, but lived in a beautiful dream. I do live in a beautiful dream; but that dream is the actual, the present, - not cold, but warm; not bare, but furnished with a thousand blessings. The very evil which the poet supposed would be a cruel disillusionment is necessary to the fullest knowledge of joy. Only by contact with evil could I have learned to feel by contrast the beauty of truth and love and goodness.

It is a mistake always to contemplate the good and ignore the evil, because by making people neglectful it lets in disaster. There is a dangerous optimism of ignorance and indifference. It is not enough to say that the twentieth century is the best age in the history of mankind, and to take refuge from the evils of the world in skyey (sic) dreams of good. How many good men, prosperous and contented, looked around and saw naught but good, while millions of their fellow-men were bartered and sold like cattle! No doubt, there were comfortable optimists who thought Wilberforce a meddlesome fanatic when he was working with might and main to free the slaves. I distrust the rash optimism in this country that cries, "Hurrah, we're all right! This is the greatest nation on earth," when there are grievances that call loudly for redress. That is false optimism. Optimism that does not count the cost is like a house builded (sic) on sand. A man must understand evil and be acquainted with sorrow before he can write himself an optimist and expect others to believe that he has reason for the faith that is in him.

I know what evil is. Once or twice I have wrestled with it, and for a time felt its chilling touch on my life; so I speak with knowledge when I say that evil is of no consequence, except as a sort of mental gymnastic. For the very reason that I have come in contact with it, I am more truly an optimist. I can say with conviction that the struggle which evil necessitates is one of the greatest blessings. It makes us strong, patient, helpful men and women. It lets us into the soul of things and teaches us that although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it. My optimism, then, does not rest on the absence of evil, but on a glad belief in the preponderance of good and a willing effort always to cooperate with the good, that it may prevail. I try to increase the power God has given me to see the best in everything and every one, and make that Best a part of my life. The world is sown with good; but unless I turn my glad thoughts into practical living and till my own field, I cannot reap a kernel of the good.

Thus my optimism is grounded in two worlds, myself and what is about me. I demand that the world be good, and lo, it obeys. I proclaim the world good, and facts range themselves to prove my proclamation overwhelmingly true. To what good I open the doors of my being, and jealously shut them against what is bad. Such is the force of this beautiful and wilful conviction, it carries itself in the face of all opposition. I am never discouraged by absence of good. I never can be argued into hopelessness. Doubt and mistrust are the mere panic of timid imagination, which the steadfast heart will conquer, and the large mind transcend.

As my college days draw to a close, I find myself looking forward with beating heart and bright anticipations to what the future holds of activity for me. My share in the work of the world may be limited; but the fact that it is work makes it precious. Nay, the desire and will to work is optimism itself.

Two generations ago Carlyle flung forth his gospel of work. To the dreamers of the Revolution, who built cloud-castles of happiness, and, when the inevitable winds rent the castles asunder, turned pessimists -to those ineffectual Endymions, Alastors and Werthers, this Scots peasant, man of dreams in the hard, practical world, cried aloud his creed of labor. "Be no longer a Chaos, but a World. Produce! produce! Were it but the pitifullest (sic) infinitesimal fraction of product, produce it, in God's name! 'Tis the utmost thou hast in thee; out with it, then. Up, up! whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy whole might. Work while it is called To-day; for the Night cometh wherein no man may work."

Some have said Carlyle was taking refuge from a hard world by bidding men grind and toil, eyes to the earth, and so forget their misery. This is not Carlyle's thought. "Fool!" he cries, "the Ideal is in thyself; the Impediment is also in thyself. Work out the Ideal in the poor, miserable Actual; live, think, believe, and be free!" It is plain what he says, that work, production, brings life out of chaos, makes the individual a world, an order; and order is optimism.

I, too, can work, and because I love to labor with my head and my hands, I am an optimist in spite of all. I used to think I should be thwarted in my desire to do something useful. But I have found out that through the ways in which I can make myself useful are few, yet the work open to me is endless. The gladdest laborer in the vineyard may be a cripple. Even should the others outstrip him, yet the vineyard ripens in the sun each year, and the full clusters weigh into his hand. Darwin could work only half an hour at a time; yet in many diligent half-hours he laid anew the foundations of philosophy. I long to accomplish a great and noble task; but it is my chief duty and joy to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. It is my service to think how I can best fulfil the demands that each day makes upon me, and to rejoice that others can do what I cannot. Green, the historian, tells us that the world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker; and that thought alone suffices to guide me in this dark world and wide. I love the good that others do; for their activity is an assurance that whether I can help that whether I can help or not, the true and the good will stand sure.

I trust, and nothing that happens disturbs my trust. I recognize the beneficence of the power which we all worship as supreme-Order, Fate, the Great Spirit, Nature, God. I recognize this power in the sun that makes all things grow and keeps life afoot. I make a friend of this indefinable force, and straightway I feel glad, brave and ready for any lot Heaven may decree for me. This is my religion of optimism.

Part II Optimism Without

Optimism, then, is a fact within my own heart. But as I look out upon life, my heart meets no contradiction. The outward world justifies my inward universe of good. All through the years I have spent in college, my reading has been a continuous discovery of good. In literature, philosophy, religion and history I find the mighty witnesses to my faith.

Philosophy is the history of a deaf-blind person writ large. From the talks of Socrates up through Plato, Berkeley and Kant, philosophy records the efforts of human intelligence to be free of the clogging material world and fly forth into a universe of pure idea. A deaf-blind person ought to find special meaning in Plato's Ideal World. These things which you see and hear and touch are not the reality of realities, but imperfect manifestations of the Idea, the Principal, the Spiritual; the Idea is the truth, the rest is delusion.

If this be so, my brethren who enjoy the fullest use of the senses are not aware of any reality which may not equally well be in reach of my mind. Philosophy gives to the mind the prerogative of seeing truth, and bears us not a realm where I, who am blind, and not different from you who see. When I learned from Berkeley that your eyes receive an inverted image of things which your brain unconsciously corrects, I began to suspect that the eye is not a very reliable instrument after all, and I felt as one who had been restored to equality with others, glad, not because the senses avail them so little, but because in God's eternal world, mind and spirit avail so much. It seemed to me that philosophy had been written for my special consolation, whereby I get even with some modern philosophers who apparently think that I was intended as an experimental case for their special instruction! But in a little measure my small voice of individual experience does join in the declaration of philosophy that the good is the only world, and that world is a world of spirit. It is also a universe where order is All, where an unbroken logic holds the parts together, where distance defines itself as non-existence, where evil, as St. Augustine held, is delusion, and therefore is not.

The meaning of philosophy to me is not only its principles, but also in the happy isolation of its great expounders (sic). They were seldom of the world, even when like Plato and Leibnitz they moved in its courts and drawing rooms. To the tumult of life they were deaf, and they were blind to its distraction and perplexing diversities. Sitting alone, but not in darkness, they learned to find everything in themselves, and failing to find it even there, they still trusted in meeting the truth face to face when they should leave the earth behind and become partakers in the wisdom of God. The great mystics lived alone, deaf and blind, but dwelling with God.

I understand how it was possible for Spinoza to find deep and sustained happiness when he was excommunicated, poor, despised and suspected alike by Jew and Christian; not that the kind world of men ever treated me so, but that his isolation from the universe of sensuous joys is somewhat analogous to mine. He loved the good for its own sake. Like many great spirits he accepted his place in the world, and confided himself childlike to a higher power, believing that it worked through his hands and predominated in his being. He trusted implicitly, and that is what I do. Deep, solemn optimism, it seems to me, should spring from this firm belief in the presence of God in the individual; not a remote, unapproachable governor of the universe, but a God who is very near every one of us, who is present not only in earth, sea and sky, but also in every pure and noble impulse of our hearts, "the source and centre (sic) of all minds, their only point of rest."

Thus from the philosophy I learn that we see only shadows and know only in part, and that all things change; but the mind, the unconquerable mind, compasses all truth, embraces the universe as it is, converts the shadows to realities and makes tumultuous changes seem but moments in an eternal silence, or short lines in the infinite theme of perfection, and the evil but "a halt on the way to good." Though with my hand I grasp only a small part of the universe, with my spirit I see the whole, and in my thought I can compass the beneficent laws by which it is governed. The confidence and trust which these conceptions inspire teach me to rest safe in my life as in a fate, and protect me from spectral doubts and fears. Verily, blessed are ye that have not seen, and yet have believed.

All the world's great philosophers have been lovers of God and believers in man's inner goodness. To know the history of philosophy is to know that the highest thinkers of the ages, the seers of the tribes and the nations, have been optimists.

The growth of philosophy is the story of man's spiritual life. Outside lies that great mass of events which we call History. As I look on this mass I see it take form and shape itself in the ways of God. The history of man is an epic of progress. In the world within and the world without I see a wonderful correspondence, a glorious symbolism which reveals the human divine communing together, the lesson of philosophy repeated in fact. In all the parts that compose, the history of mankind hides the spirit of good, and gives meaning to the whole.

Far back in the twilight of history I see the savage fleeing from the forces of nature which he has not learned control, and seeking to propitiate supernatural beings which are but the creation of his superstitious fear. With a shift of his imagination I see the savage emancipated, civilized. He no longer worships the grim deities of ignorance. Through suffering he has learned to build a roof over his head, to defend his life and his home, and over his state he has erected a temple in which he worships the joyous gods of light and song. From suffering he has learned justice; from the struggle with his fellows he has learned the distinction between right and wrong which makes him a moral being. He is sighted with the genius of Greece.

But Greece was not perfect. He poetical and religious ideals were far above her practice; therefore she died, that her ideals might survive to ennoble coming ages.

Rome, too, left the world a rich inheritance. Through the vicissitudes of history her laws and ordered government have stood a majestic object-lesson for the ages. But when the stern, frugal character of her people ceased to be the bone and sinew of her civilization, Rome fell.

Then came the new nations of the North and founded a more permanent society. The base of Greek and Roman society was the slave, crushed into the condition of the wretches who "labored, foredone (sic), in the field and at the workshop, like haltered horses, if blind, so much the quieter." The base of the new society was the freeman who fought, tilled, judged and grew from more to more. He wrought a state out of tribal kinship and fostered an independence and self-reliance which no oppression could destroy. The story of man's slow ascent from savagery through barbarism and self-mastery to civilization is the embodiment of the spirit of optimism. From the first hour of the new nations each century has seen a better Europe, until the development of the world demanded America.

Tolstoi said the other day that America, once the hope of the world, was in bondage to Mammon. Tolstoi and other Europeans have still much to learn about this great, free country of ours before they understand the unique civic struggle which America is undergoing. She is confronted with the mighty task of assimilating all the foreigners that are drawn together from every country, and welding them into one people with one national spirit. We have the right to demand the forbearance of critics until the United States has demonstrated whether she can make one people out of all nations of the earth. London economists are alarmed at less than five hundred thousand foreign-born in a population of six million, and discuss earnestly the danger of too many aliens. But what is their problem in comparison with that of New York, which counts nearly one million five hundred thousand foreigners among its three and a half million citizens? Think of it! Every third person in our American metropolis is an alien. By these figures alone America's greatness can be measured.

It is true, America has devoted herself largely to the solution of material problems-breaking the fields, opening mines, irrigating the deserts, spanning the continent with railroads; but she is doing these things in a new way, by educating her people, by placing at the service of every man's need every resource of human skill. She is transmuting her industrial wealth into the education of her workmen, so that unskilled people shall have no place in American life, so that all men shall bring mind and soul to the control of matter. Her children are not drudges and slaves. The Constitution has declared it, and the spirit of our institutions has confirmed it. The best the land can teach them they shall know. They shall learn that there is no upper class in their country, and no lower, and they shall understand how it is that God and His world are for everybody.

America might do all this, and still be selfish, still be a worshipper of Mammon. But America is the home of charity as well as commerce. In the midst of roaring traffic, side by side with noisy factory and sky-reaching warehouse, one sees the school, the library, the hospital, the park-works of public benevolence which represent wealth wrought into ideas that shall endure forever. Behold what America has already done to alleviate suffering and restore the afflicted to society - given sight to the fingers of the blind, language to the dumb lip, and mind to the idiot clay, and tell me if indeed she worships Mammon only. Who shall measure the sympathy, skill and intelligence with which she ministers to all who come to her, and lessens the ever-swelling tide of poverty, misery and degradation which every year rolls against her gates from all the nations? When I reflect on all these facts, I cannot but think that, Tolstoi and other theorists to the contrary, it is a splendid thing to be an American. In America the optimist finds abundant reason for confidence in the present and hope for the future, and this hope, this confidence, may well extend over all the great nations of the earth.

If we compare our own time with the past, we find in modern statistics a solid foundation for a confident and buoyant world-optimism. Beneath the doubt, the unrest, the materialism, which surround us still glows and burns at the world's best life a steadfast faith. To hear the pessimist, one would think civilization Had bivouacked in the Middle Ages, and had not had marching orders since. He does not realize that the progress of evolution is not an uninterrupted march.

"Now touching goal, now backward hurl'd, Toils the indomitable world."

I have recently read an address by one whose knowledge it would be presumptuous to challenge. In it I find abundant evidence of progress.

During the past fifty years crime has decreased. True, the records of to-day contain a longer list of crime. But our statistics are more complete and accurate than the statistics of times past. Besides, there are many offenses on the list which half a century ago would not have been thought of as crimes. This shows that the public conscience is more sensitive than it ever was.

Our definition of crime has grown stricter, our punishment of it more lenient and intelligent. The old feeling of revenge has largely disappeared. It is no longer an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. The criminal is treated as one who is diseased. He is confined not merely for punishment, but because he is a menace to society. While he is under restraint, he is treated with human care and disciplined so that his mind shall be cured of its disease, and he shall be restored to society able to so his part of its work.

Another sign of awakened and enlightened public conscience is the effort to provide the working-class with better houses. Did it occur to anyone a hundred years ago to think whether the dwellings of the poor were sanitary, convenient or sunny? Do not forget that in the "good old times" cholera and typhus devastated whole counties, and that pestilence walked abroad in the capitals of Europe.

Not only have our laboring-classes better houses and better places to work in; but employers recognize the right of the employed to seek more than the bare wage of existence. In the darkness and turmoil of our modern industrial strifes (sic) we discern but dimly the principles that underlie the struggle. The recognition of the right of all men to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, a spirit of conciliation such as Burke dreamed of, the willingness on the part of the strong to make concessions to the weak, the realization that the rights of the employer are bound up in the rights of the employed-in these the optimist beholds the signs of our times.

Another right which State has recognized as belonging to each man is the right to an education. In the enlightened parts of Europe and in America every city, every town, every village, has its school; and it is no longer a class who have access to knowledge, for to the children of the poorest laborer the school-door stands open. From the civilized nations universal education is driving the dull host of illiteracy.

Education broadens to include all men, and deepens to teach all truths. Scholars are no longer confined to Greek, Latin and mathematics, but they also study science converts the dreams of the poet, the theory of the mathematician and the fiction of the economist into ships, hospitals and instruments that enable one skilled hand to perform the work of a thousand. The student of to-day is not asked if he has learned his grammar. Is he a mere grammar machine, a dry catalogue of scientific facts, or has he acquired the qualities of manliness? His supreme lesson is to grapple with great public questions, to keep his mind hospitable to new idea and new views of truth, to restore the finer ideals that are lost sight of in the struggle for wealth and to promote justice between man and man. He learns that there may be substitutes for human labor - horse-power and machinery and books; but "there are no substitutes for common sense, patience, integrity, courage."

Who can doubt the vastness of the achievements of education when one considers how different the conditions of the blind and the deaf is from what it was a century ago? They were then objects of superstitious pity, and shared the lowest beggar's lot. Everybody looked upon their case as hopeless, and this view plunged them deeper in despair. The blind themselves laughed in the face of Hauy when he offered to teach them to read. How pitiable is the cramped sense of imprisonment in circumstances which teaches men to expect no good and to treat any attempt to relieve them as the vagary of a disordered mind! But now, behold the transformation; see how institutions and industrial establishments for the blind have sprung up as if by magic; see how many of the deaf have learned not only to read and write, but to speak; and remember that the faith and patience of Dr. Howe have borne fruit in the efforts that are being made everywhere to educate the deaf-blind and equip them for the struggle. Do you wonder that I am full of hope and lifted up?

The highest result of education is tolerance. Long ago men fought and died for their faith; but it took ages to teach them the other kind of courage, -the courage to recognize the faiths of their brethren and their rights of conscience. Tolerance is the first principal of community; it is the spirit which conserves the best that all men think. No loss by flood and lightening, no destruction of cities and temples by the hostile forces of nature, has deprived man of so many noble lives and impulses as those which his tolerance has destroyed.

With wonder and sorrow I go back in thought to the ages of intolerance and bigotry. I see Jesus received with scorn and nailed on the cross. I see his followers hounded and tortured and burned. I am present where the finer spirits that revolt from the superstition of the Middle Ages are accused of impiety and stricken down. I behold the children of Israel reviled and persecuted unto death by those who pretend Christianity with the tongue; I see them driven from land to land, hunted from refuge to refuge, summoned to the felon's place, exposed to the whip, mocked as they utter amid the pain of martyrdom a confession of the faith which they have kept with such splendid constancy. The same bigotry that oppress the Jews falls tiger-like upon Christian nonconformists of purest lives and wipes out the Albigenses and the peaceful Vaudois, "whose bones lie on the mountains cold." I see the clouds part slowly, and I hear a cry of protest against the bigot. The restraining hand of tolerance is laid upon the inquisitor, and the humanist utters a message of peace to the persecuted. Instead of the cry, "Burn the heretic!" men study the human soul with sympathy, and there enters into their hearts a new reverence for that which is unseen.

The idea of brotherhood redawns upon the world with a broader significance than the narrow association of members in a sect or creed; and thinkers of great soul like Lessing challenge the world to say which is more godlike, the hatred and tooth-and-nail grapple of conflicting religions, or sweet accord and mutual helpfulness. Ancient prejudice of man against his brother-man wavers and retreats before the radiance of a more generous sentiment, which will not sacrifice men to forms, or rob them of the comfort and strength they find in their own beliefs. The heresy of one age becomes the orthodoxy of the next. Mere tolerance has given place to a sentiment of brotherhood between sincere men of all denominations. The optimist rejoices in the affectionate sympathy between Catholic heart and Protestant heart which finds a gratifying expression in the universal respect and warm admiration for Leo XIII on the part of good men the world over. The centenary celebrations of the births of Emerson and Channing are beautiful examples of the tribute which men of all creeds pay to the memory of a pure soul.

Thus in my outlook upon our times I find that I am glad to be a citizen of the world, as I regard my country, I find that to be an American is to be an optimist. I know the unhappy and unrighteous story of what has been done in the Philippines beneath our flag; but I believe that in the accidents of statecraft the best intelligence of the people sometimes fails to express itself. I read in history of Julius Caesar that during the civil wars there were millions of peaceful herdsmen and laborers who worked as long as they could, and fled before the advance of the armies that were led by the few, then waited until the danger was past, and returned to repair damages with patient hands. So the people are patient and honest, while their rulers stumble. I rejoice to see in the world and in this country a new and better patriotism than that which seeks the life of an enemy. It is a patriotism higher than that of the battle-field. It moves thousands to lay down their lives in social service, and every life so laid down brings us a step nearer the time when corn-fields shall no more be fields of battle. So when I heard of the cruel fighting in the Philippines, I did not despair, because I knew that the hearts of our people were not in that fight, and that sometime the hand of the destroyer must be stayed.

Part III The Practice of Optimism

The test of all beliefs is their practical effect in life. It be true that optimism compels the world forward, and pessimism retards it, them it is dangerous to propagate a pessimistic philosophy. One who believes that the pain in the world outweighs the joy, and expresses that unhappy conviction, only adds to the pain. Schopenhauer is an enemy to the race. Even if he earnestly believed that this is the most wretched of possible worlds, he should not promulgate a doctrine which robs men of the incentive to fight with circumstance. If Life gave him ashes for bread, it was his fault. Life is a fair field, and the right will prosper if we stand by our guns.

Let pessimism once take hold of the mind, and life is all topsy-turvy, all vanity and vexation of spirit. There is no cure for individual or social disorder, except in forgetfulness and annihilation. "Let us eat, drink and be merry," says the pessimist, "for to-morrow we die." If I regarded my life from the point of view of the pessimist, I should be undone. I should seek in vain for the light that does not visit my eyes and the music that does not ring in my ears. I should beg night and day and never be satisfied. I should sit apart in awful solitude, a prey to fear and despair. But since I consider it a duty to myself and to others to be happy, I escape a misery worse than any physical deprivation.

Who shall dare let his incapacity for hope or goodness cast a shadow upon the courage of those who bear their burdens as if they were privileges? The optimist cannot fall back, cannot falter; for he knows his neighbor will be hindered by his failure to keep in line. He will therefore hold his place fearlessly and remember the duty of silence. Sufficient unto each heart is its own sorrow. He will take the iron claws of circumstance in his hand and use them as tools to break away the obstacle that block his path. He will work as if upon him alone depended the establishment of heaven and earth.

We have seen that the world's philosophers - the Sayers of the Word - were optimists; so also are the men of action and achievement - the Doers of the Word. Dr. Howe found his way to Laura Bridgman's soul because he began with the belief that he could reach it. English jurists had said that the deaf-blind were idiots in the eyes of the law. Behold what the optimist does. He converts a hard legal axiom; he looks behind the dull impassive clay and sees a human soul in bondage, and quietly, resolutely sets about its deliverance. His efforts are victorious. He creates intelligence out of idiocy and proves to the law that the deaf-blind man is a responsible being.

When Hauy offered to teach the blind to read, he was met by a pessimism that laughed at his folly. Had he not believed that the soul of man is mightier than the ignorance that fetters it, had he not been an optimist, he would not have turned the fingers of the blind into new instruments. No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit. St. Bernard was so deeply an optimist that he believed two hundred and fifty enlightened men could illuminate the darkness which overwhelmed the period of the Crusades; and the light of his faith broke like a new day upon western Europe. John Bosco, the benefactor of the poor and the friendless of Italian cities, was another optimist, another prophet who, perceiving a Divine Idea while it was yet afar, proclaimed it to his countrymen. Although they laughed at his vision and called him a madman, yet he worked on patiently, and with the labor of his hands he maintained a home for little street waifs. In the fervor of enthusiasm he predicted the wonderful movement which should result from his work. Even in the days before he had money or patronage, he drew glowing pictures of the splendid system of schools and hospitals which should spread from one end of Italy to the other, and he lived to see the organization of the San Salvador Society, which was the embodiment of his prophetic optimism. When Dr. Seguin declared his opinion that the feeble-minded could be taught, again people laughed, and in their complacent wisdom said he was no better than an idiot himself. But the noble optimist persevered, and by and by the reluctant pessimists saw that he whom they ridiculed had become one of the world's philanthropists. Thus the optimist believes, attempts, achieves. He stands always in the sunlight. Some day the wonderful, the inexpressible, arrives and shines upon him, and he is there to welcome it. His soul meets his own and beats a glad march to every new discovery, every fresh victory over difficulties, every addition to human knowledge and happiness.

We have found that our great philosophers and our great men of action are optimists. So, too, our most potent men of letters have been optimists in their books and in their lives. No pessimist ever won an audience commensurately wide with his genius, and many optimistic writers have been read and admired out of all measure to their talents, simply because they wrote of the sunlit side of life. Dickens, Lamb, Goldsmith, Irving, all the well-beloved and gentle humorists, were optimists. Swift, the pessimist, has never had as many readers as his towering genius should command, and indeed, when he comes down into our century and meets Thackeray, that generous optimist can hardly do him justice. In spite of the latter-day notoriety of the "Rubaiyat" of Omar Khayyam, we may set it down as a rule that he who would be heard must be a believer, must have a fundamental optimism in his philosophy. He may bluster and disagree and lament as Carlyle and Ruskin do sometimes; but a basic confidence in the good destiny of life and of the world must underlie his work.

Shakespeare is the prince of optimists. His tragedies are a revelation of moral order. In "Lear" and "Hamlet" there is a looking forward to something better, some one is left at the end of the play to right wrong, restore society and build the state anew. The later plays, "The Tempest" and "Cymbeline," show a beautiful, placid optimism which delights in reconciliations and reunions and which plans for the triumph of external as well as internal good.

If Browning were less difficult to read, he would surely be the dominant poet in this century. I feel the ecstasy with which he exclaims, "Oh, good gigantic smile o' the brown old earth this autumn morning!" And how he sets my brain going when he says, because there is imperfection, there must be perfection; completeness must have come out of uncompleteness (sic); failure is an evidence of triumph for the fullness of the days. Yes, discord is, that harmony may be; pain destroys, that health may renew; perhaps I am deaf and blind that others likewise afflicted may see and hear with a more perfect sense! From Browning I learn that there is no lost good, and that makes it easier for me to go at life, right or wrong, do the best I know, and fear not. My heart responds proudly to his exhortation to pay gladly life's debt of pain, darkness and cold. Lift up your burden, it is God's gift, bear it nobly.

The man of letters whose voice is to prevail must be an optimist, and his voice often learns its message from his life. Stevenson's life has become a tradition only ten years after his death; he has taken his place among the heros, the bravest man of letters since Johnson and Lamb. I remember an hour when I was discouraged and ready to falter. For days I had been pegging away at a task which refused to get itself accomplished. In the midst of my perplexity I read an essay of Stevenson which made me feel as if I had been "outing" in the sunshine, instead of losing heart over a difficult task. I tried again with new courage and succeeded almost before I knew it. I have failed many times since; but I have never felt so disheartened as I did before that sturdy preacher gave me my lesson in the "fashion of the smiling face."

Read Schopenhauer and Omar, and you will grow to find the world as hollow as they find it. Read Green's history of England, and the world is peopled with heros. I never knew why Green's history thrilled me with the vigor of romance until I read his biography. Then I learned how his quick imagination transfigured the hard, bare facts of life into new and living dreams. When he and his wife were too poor to have a fire, he would sit before the unlit hearth and pretend that it was ablaze. "Drill your thoughts," he said; "shut out the gloomy and call in the bright. There is more wisdom in shutting one's eyes than your copybook philosophers will allow."

Every optimist moves along with progress and hastens it, while every pessimist would keep the worlds at a standstill. The consequence of pessimism in the life of a nation is the same as in the life of the individual. Pessimism kills the instinct that urges men to struggle against poverty, ignorance and crime, and dries up all the fountains of joy in the world. In imagination I leave the country which lifts up the manhood of the poor and I visit India, the underworld of fatalism-where three hundred million human beings, scarcely men, submerged in ignorance and misery, precipitate themselves still deeper into the pit. Why are they thus? Because they have for thousands of years been the victims of their philosophy, which teaches them that men are as grass, and the grass fadeth, and there is no more greenness on the earth. They sit in the shadow and let the circumstances they should master grip them, until they cease to be Men, and are made to dance and salaam like puppets in a play. After a little hour death comes and hurries them off to the grave, and other puppets with other "pasteboard passions and desires" take their place, and the show goes on for centuries.

Go to India and see what sort of civilization is developed when a nation lacks faith in progress and bows to the gods of darkness. Under the influence of Brahminism genius and ambition have been suppressed. There is no one to befriend the poor or to protect the fatherless and the widow. The sick lie untended. The blind know not how to see, nor the deaf to hear, and they are left by the roadside to die. In India it is a sin to teach the blind and the deaf because their affliction is regarded as a punishment for offenses in a previous state of existence. If I had been born in the midst of these fatalistic doctrines, I should still be in darkness, my life a desert-land where no caravan of thought might pass between my spirit and the world beyond.

The Hindoos (sic) believe in endurance, but not in resistance; therefore they have been subdued by strangers. Their history is a repetition of that Babylon. A nation from afar came with speed swiftly, and none stumbled, or slept, or slumbered, but they brought desolation upon the land, and took the stay and the staff from the people, the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water, the mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient, and none delivered them. Woe, indeed, is the heritage of those who walk sad-thoughted (sic) and downcast through this radiant, soul delighting earth, blind to its beauty and deaf to its music, and of those who call evil good, and good evil, and put darkness for light, and light for darkness.

What care the weather-bronzed sons of the West, feeding the world from the plains of Dakota, for the Oars and the Brahmins? They would say to the Hindoos (sic), "Blot out your philosophy, dead for a thousand years, look with fresh eyes at Reality and Life, put away your Brahmins and your crooked gods, and seek diligently for Vishnu the Preserver."

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement; nothing can be done without hope. When our forefathers laid the foundation of the American commonwealths, what nerved them to their task but a vision of a free community? Against the cold, inhospitable sky, across the wilderness white with snow, where lurked the hidden savage, gleamed the bow of promise, toward which they set their faces with the faith that levels mountains, fills up valleys, bridges rivers and carries civilization to the uttermost parts of the earth. Although the pioneers could not build according to the Hebraic ideal they saw, yet they gave the pattern of all that is most enduring in our country today. They brought to the wilderness the thinking mind, the printed book, the deep rooted desire for self-government and the English common law that judges alike the king and the subject, the law on which rests the whole structure of our society.

It is significant that the foundation of the law is optimistic. In Latin countries the court proceeds with a pessimistic bias. The prisoner is held guilty until he is proved innocent. In England and the United States there is an optimistic presumption that the accused is innocent until it is no longer possible to deny his guilt. Under our system, it is said, many criminals are acquitted; but it is surely better so than that many innocent persons should suffer. The pessimist cries, "There is no enduring good in man! The tendency of all things is through perpetual loss to chaos in the end. If there was ever an idea of good in things evil, it was impotent, and the world rushes on to ruin." But behold, the law of the two most sober-minded, practical and law abiding nations on earth assumes the good in man and demands proof of the bad.

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. The prophets of the world have been good of heart, or their standards would have stood naked in the field without a defender. Tolstoi's strictures lose power because they are pessimistic. If he had seen clearly the faults of America, and still believed in her capacity to overcome them, our people might have felt the stimulation of his centure (sic). But the world turns its back on a hopeless prophet and listens to Emerson who takes in account the best qualities of the nation and attacks only the vices which no one can defend or deny. It listens to the strong man, Lincoln, who in times of doubt, trouble and need does not falter. He sees success afar, and by strenuous hope, by hoping against hope, inspires a nation. Through the night of despair he says, "All is well," and thousands rest in his confidence. When such a man censures, and points to a fault, the nation obeys, and his words sink into the ears of men; but to the lamentations of the habitual Jeremiah the ear grows dull.

Our newspapers should remember this. The press is the pulpit of the modern world, and on the preachers who fill it much depends. If the protest of the press against unrighteous measures is to avail, then for ninety nine days the word of the preacher should be buoyant and of good cheer, so that on the hundredth day the voice centure (sic) may be a hundred times strong. This was Lincoln's way. He knew the people; he believed in them and rested his faith on the justice and wisdom of the great majority. When in his rough and ready way he said, "You can't fool all the people all the time," he expressed a great principle, the doctrine of faith in human nature.

The prophet is not without honor, save he be a pessimist. The ecstatic prophecies of Isaiah did far more to restore the exiles of Israel to their homes than the lamentations of Jeremiah did to deliver them from the hands of evil-doers.

Even on Christmas Day do men remember that Christ came as a prophet of good? His joyous optimism is like water to feverish lips, and has for its highest expression the eight beatitudes. It is because Christ is an optimist that for ages he has dominated the Western world. For nineteen centuries Christendom had gazed into his shining face and felt that all things work together for good. St. Paul, too, taught the faith which looks beyond the hardest things into the infinite horizon of heaven, where all limitations are lost in the light of perfect understanding. If you are born blind, search the treasures of darkness. They are more precious than the gold of Ophir. They are love and goodness and truth and hope, and their price is above rubies and sapphires.

Jesus utters and Paul proclaims a message of peace and a message of reason, a belief in the Idea, not in things, in love, not in conquest. The optimist is he who sees that men's actions are directed not by squadrons and armies, but by moral power, that the conquests of Alexander and Napoleon are less abiding than Newton's and Galileo's and St. Augustine's silent mastery of the world. Ideas are mightier than fire and sword. Noiselessly they propagate themselves from land to land, and mankind goes out and reaps the rich harvest and thanks God; but the achievements of the warrior are like his canvas city, "to-day a camp, to-morrow all struck and vanished, a few pit-holes and heaps of straw." This was the gospel of Jesus two thousand years ago. Christmas Day is the festival of optimism.

Although there are still great evils which have not been subdued, and the optimist is not blind to them, yet he is full of hope. Despondency has no place in his creed, for he believes in the imperishable righteousness of God and the dignity of man. History records man's triumphant ascent. Each halt in his progress has been but a pause before a mighty leap forward. The time is not out of joint. If indeed some if the temples we worship in have fallen, we have built new ones on the sacred sites loftier and holier than those which have crumbled. If we have lost some of the heroic physical qualities of our ancestors, we have replaced them with a spiritual nobleness that turns aside wrath and binds up the wounds of the vanquished. All the past attainments of man are ours; and more, his day-dreams have become our clear realities. Therein lies our hope and sure faith.

As I stand in the sunshine if a sincere and earnest optimism, my imagination "paints yet more glorious triumphs on the cloud-curtain of the future." Out of the fierce struggle and turmoil of contending systems and powers I see a brighter spiritual era slowly emerge-an era in which there shall be no England, no France, no Germany, no America, no this people or that, but one family, the human race; one law, peace; one need, harmony; one means, labor; one taskmaster, God.

If I should try to say anew the creed of the optimist, I should day something like this: "I believe in God, I believe in man, I believe in the power of the spirit. I believe it is a sacred duty to encourage ourselves and others; to hold the tongue from any unhappy word against God's world, because no man has any right to complain of a universe which God made good, and which thousands of men have striven to keep good. I believe we should so act that we may draw nearer and more near the age when no man shall live at his ease while another suffers." These are the articles of my faith, and there is yet another on which all depends-to bear this faith above every tempest which overfloods (sic) it, and to make it a principal in disaster and through affliction. Optimism is the harmony between man's spirit of God pronouncing His works good.

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Short Essay & Paragraph About Helen Keller

Helen Keller is a well-known American author and professor who is known best for her book “The Story of My Life” (1903), which recounts how she learned to communicate with her teacher, Anne Sullivan, when she was a child.

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Short 350 Words Paragraph On Helen Keller For students

Helen Keller was born in Tuscumbia, Alabama, on June 27, 1880. Her father was an army officer named Arthur H. Keller, and her mother was Katherine Adams. She was blind and deaf since infancy due to illness and disease, and she met Anne Sullivan when she was seven years old. They stayed together throughout her primary education at Perkins Organization for the Blind in Boston and at Radcliffe College, where Miss Sullivan was her instructor, until the teacher’s death in 1936.

Paragraph Writing on Helen Keller

Helen Keller is best known for her work on behalf of the blind, which started in 1887 with a campaign to improve blind children’s education and opportunities. She was also an outspoken supporter of women’s suffrage and global peace.

Keller’s first book about her spiritual beliefs, The World I Live In, was published in 1915; it was decided to follow by My Religion (1927), Out of the Dark (1933), and Midstream: My Later Life (1952). She outlined her philosophy in these works, which holds that the physically and spiritually worlds are inextricably linked and that all people are interconnected. Keller was a prolific writer who wrote articles, essays, and plays, including The Miracle Worker (1959), which was inspired by her relationship with Anne Sullivan.

Helen Keller received numerous awards and honors, such as the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1964), which she was the first woman to receive. She received the Congressional Gold Medal posthumously in 1980. Keller’s life has been the subject of several biographies as well as a feature film, The Miracle Worker (1962), which did win two Academy Awards, which include best actress for Anne Bancroft in the role of Sullivan.

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Helen Keller is without a doubt one of the twentieth century’s most inspirational figures. Despite the fact that she was born deaf and blind, she went on to become a well-known author and speaker who dedicated her life to helping others. Her powerful message of compassion and unity is more relevant today than ever before.

500 Words Essay On Helen Keller

Helen Keller was an American author, political activist, and lecturer who is best known for her work as a pioneer in the field of education for the blind and deaf. Born in Tuscumbia, Alabama in 1880, Keller was struck with an illness at the age of 19 months that left her blind and deaf. Despite these challenges, Keller went on to become one of the most famous and influential figures of the 20th century.

At the age of seven, Keller was introduced to Anne Sullivan, a teacher who would become her lifelong companion and mentor. Sullivan began teaching Keller how to communicate using the manual alphabet and soon Keller was able to understand simple words and phrases. With Sullivan’s help, Keller learned to read and write in braille and eventually graduated from Radcliffe College with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Throughout her life, Keller was an advocate for the rights of people with disabilities. She was a member of the American Association of the Blind and the American Foundation for the Blind, and she worked tirelessly to raise awareness about the challenges faced by people who were blind or deaf. Keller also spoke out against discrimination and advocated for equal rights for all people, regardless of their abilities.

Keller’s work as an advocate and lecturer led her to travel extensively throughout the United States and Europe. She gave speeches, wrote articles, and even testified before Congress. Keller’s speeches were powerful and moving, and she was able to capture the imagination of audiences with her personal story of overcoming adversity.

In addition to her work as an advocate, Keller was also an accomplished author. She wrote several books, including “The Story of My Life,” which was published in 1903. This book, which was written with the help of Sullivan, detailed Keller’s experiences and gave readers a glimpse into the challenges she faced as a blind and deaf person. “The Story of My Life” was a best-seller and is still widely read today.

Keller’s life and legacy continue to inspire people around the world. She was an example of how determination and hard work can overcome even the most difficult of obstacles. Her legacy lives on through the Helen Keller International organization, which was founded in 1915. The organization is dedicated to improving the quality of life for people who are blind, visually impaired, and deaf blind.

In conclusion, Helen Keller is an American author, political activist, and lecturer who is best known for her work as a pioneer in the field of education for the blind and deaf. Despite the challenges she faced as a blind and deaf person, Keller went on to become one of the most famous and influential figures of the 20th century. She was an advocate for the rights of people with disabilities and traveled extensively throughout the United States and Europe to raise awareness about the challenges faced by people who were blind or deaf. Keller’s work as an advocate and lecturer, and her books, helped to change the way society viewed people with disabilities and continue to inspire people around the world.

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A Short Biography of Helen Keller

Helen Keller (1880-1968) had passed away for more than half a century. However, she remains an inspiration to many people. Despite being deafblind, Helen Keller became one of the leading advocates of her time for people with disabilities. Learn more about Helen Keller’s life, family, education, literary works, and political activities in this short biography.

Helen Keller Short Biography

Early years – birth & family, helen adams keller was born a healthy child on june 27, 1880, in tuscumbia, alabama to a distinguished southern family..

Helen Keller’s father Arthur Henley Keller was an editor of the Tuscumbia North Alabamian. During the American Civil War, he had served as a captain in the Confederate Army. Helen Keller’s mother Catherine Everett Keller was a young educated woman from Memphis. She was the daughter of Charles W. Adams, a Confederate Army general. Helen Keller had four siblings: two full siblings and two half-siblings from her father’s previous marriage. Helen Keller was born in Ivy Green — a homestead built by her grandfather — where she spent her early childhood. The family homestead was also where she first met her mentor and life companion Anne Sullivan.

Keller and Childhood Dog | Helen Keller Biography

Early Years – Becoming Deafblind

When helen keller was 19 months old, she contracted an unknown illness that left her both deaf and blind..

In her autobiography The Story of My Life , she described that deafblindness left her living “at sea in a dense fog.” People suspect today that she might have contracted either scarlet fever or spinal meningitis . Despite her disabilities, Keller was able to communicate somewhat with Martha Washington, the six-year-old daughter of the family cook. Martha was able to distinguish some of Keller’s signs and communicate with her through their very own language system. By the age of seven, Helen Keller had developed over 60 hand gestures of her own . She was also able to identify her family members by the vibrations of their steps on the floor.

Early Education

In 1886, after reading charles dickens’ american notes, helen keller’s mother was inspired to pursue formal education for her daughter..

Helen Keller’s parents, Catherine and Arthur Keller set about finding the appropriate institution to educate their child. Through this journey, they ended up in contact with the Perkins School for the Blind . The director of the school recommended that a former student by the name of Anne Sullivan would be an ideal choice for helping Keller. The two would work closely together for the rest of Anne’s life.

Anne Mansfield Sullivan

One of helen keller’s constant companion in life. anne sullivan played crucial roles as the teacher and supporter in keller’s life..

On March 5th, 1887, Anne Sullivan arrived at Keller’s home. Keller called the day of Sullivan’s arrival as the “birthday of her soul”. Anne Sullivan began to teach Helen to spell words by writing into her hand. They struggled with this method it first until they made a breakthrough. Sullivan was signing the word for water into Keller’s hand while running her other hand under running water. This is the first instance that Helen Keller recalled understanding that the signs Anne Sullivan made were connected to real-world objects. This moment can be seen as awakening Helen’s desire to learn and interact with the world around her.

Throughout the years, Helen had her companion Anne at her side helping her through the world. Anne Sullivan died in 1936 with Helen at her side.

Keller and Anne Sullivan | Helen Keller Biography

Formal Education

By 1888, Helen Keller had become a student at the Perkins Institute. By 1894, she was attending school at Wright-Humason School for the Deaf. And by 1900, Helen was attending Radcliffe College — a women’s liberal arts college in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Helen wanted to go to Harvard, but Harvard was an all-male university during her time. So she went to Radcliffe instead, which was the female coordinate institution for Harvard College . When Helen Keller graduated from Radcliffe in 1904, she became the first deaf-blind person ever to be awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree . Despite her circumstances, Keller showed a great aptitude for learning. She also demonstrated an unyielding desire to further her abilities.

Her quest to learn did not end here. Over the next few years, she would learn to use her physical voice. She discovered ways to experience music through the use of a resonant table to feel the vibrations of songs. She could even lip-read by touching the lips of a person who is speaking to her; her heightened sense of touch allowed her to know what was being said.

Keller, 1907 | Helen Keller Biography

Literary Works

Some of helen keller’s contributions to society are her literary works..

Helen Keller was a prolific writer. She produced many works on her experiences as a member of the deaf and blind communities. In total, she has published 12 books and written several articles.

Among her earliest works was a fictional story The Frost King (1891) which Keller wrote at the tender age of 11. However, there were allegations that the story had been plagiarized. Perhaps shunted by the accusations, The Frost King became the last fictional story Keller published.

At age 21, Helen Keller published The Story of My Life (1903), her first autobiography. In this book, she talked about the story of her life up to age 21. The autobiography was written when Keller was in college with the help of Anne Sullivan and her husband John Macy.

Autobiography The Story of My Life | Helen Keller Biography

In 1908, she published The World I Live In. In this book, she shared with her readers some insights into her life. A series of essays on socialism (more on Keller’s involvement in advocating for socialism below) were published in 1913.

The World I Live In | Helen Keller Biography

This is not an exhaustive list of Helen Keller’s works.

Social & Political Activities

Helen keller’s challenges in seeing and hearing did not prevent her from advocating for what she thought was right..

The year before Keller graduated from Radcliffe, she had published her autobiography The Story of My Life . After she graduated in 1904, she continued to inspire people with her life story. At the same time, Keller worked toward raising awareness on the challenges faced by people with disabilities. Helen Keller also testified in front of the US Congress as an advocate for the blind.

In 1915, Keller co-founded Helen Keller International (HKI) with George Kessler, a wealthy wine merchant from New York City. Still active to this very day, HKI is a non-profit organization exists to help people with blindness. Among HKI’s missions and goals are to reduce preventable blindness and reduce malnutrition.

Fiver years later, Helen Keller co-founded American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Like HKI, ACLU remains active to this day. It is one of the largest non-profit non-partisan activist organization in the US. ACLU’s stated mission is to defend the liberties and individual rights of the citizens of the United States of American.

Keller, 1920s | Helen Keller Biography

Keller’s effort was not limited within the United States borders. During her active years, she was known to have visited 35 countries and gave inspirational speeches that brought awareness. Among the countries that Keller had visited was Japan. It was said that Keller was a favorite of the Japanese people .

As an outspoken activist who dared to stand for what she thought was right, it’s only natural that she was active in the women’s suffrage movement. The movement fought for equal voting rights for both men and women.

Keller also believed in socialism. She was a member of the Socialist Party and advocated for a revolution. Federal Bureau of Investigation FBI even opened an investigation into her. Her advocacy for socialism is often downplayed in mainstream media. However, the fact is that socialism is a core part of Keller’s political philosophy. She even produced a number of essays on the topic of socialism.

In her later life, Keller devoted much of her time and effort to raising fund for the American Foundation for the Blind .

Later Life & Death

Keller, 1950s | Helen Keller Biography

In 1961 Keller suffered a series of strokes. As a result, she had to spend the last few years of her life at her home. In 1964, Helen Keller was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The award was one of the United State’s two highest civilian honors. The medal is awarded to distinguished individuals who have made significant contributions to the United States. The recipients of this medal include John F. Kennedy, Pope John XXIII, and Mother Theresa.

On June 1, 1968, she died in her sleep at her home in Connecticut. She was 87 years old when she passed on and was a few weeks short of her eighty-eighth birthday. The symbol of perseverance found her final resting place at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. next to her constant companions, Anne Sullivan and Polly Thomson.

Using her voice and her experiences, Keller shared her thoughts on social and political issues. Today she is an iconic figure who is known to have labored for the betterment of others despite her own disabilities.

Quick Facts About Helen Keller

  • Birthday: June 27, 1880
  • Birth Place: Tuscumbia, Alabama.
  • Death Date: June 1, 1968
  • Parents: Arthur Henley Keller, Catherine Everett Keller
  • Number of siblings: 4
  • Birthplace: Tuscumbia, Alabama
  • Helen Keller was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor’s Degree.
  • Education History: Perkins Institute, Wright-Humason School for the Deaf, Radcliffe College
  • Notable Literary Works: The Frost King (1891, fiction), The Story of My Life (1903, autobiography), The World I Live In (1908), Out of the Dark, a series of essays on socialism (1913), My Religion (1927)
  • Related Organizations: Helen Keller International (Co-founder), American Civil Liberties Union ACLU (Co-founder)

You should also check out these interesting facts about Helen Kellers .

Keller and Charlie Chaplin | Helen Keller Biography

  • FBI File on Helen Keller
  • Helen Keller’s Digital Photo Collection
  • A longer biography of Helen Keller @ American Foundation for the Blind

How Did Helen Keller Learn to Speak?

Helen Keller speaks out (1954)

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  1. Helen Keller

    Helen Keller (born June 27, 1880, Tuscumbia, Alabama, U.S.—died June 1, 1968, Westport, Connecticut) was an American author and educator who was blind and deaf. Her education and training represent an extraordinary accomplishment in the education of persons with these disabilities. Helen Keller's birthplace.

  2. Helen Keller

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  3. Helen Keller

    Helen Adams Keller (June 27, 1880 - June 1, 1968) was an American author, disability rights advocate, political activist and lecturer. Born in West Tuscumbia, Alabama, she lost her sight and her hearing after a bout of illness when she was 19 months old. She then communicated primarily using home signs until the age of seven, when she met her first teacher and life-long companion Anne Sullivan.

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  5. Helen Keller

    Helen Keller was both blind and deaf . But despite these disabilities, she became a skilled writer and speaker.

  6. Helen Keller

    Born on June 27, 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabama, Keller was the older of two daughters of Arthur H. Keller, a farmer, newspaper editor, and Confederate Army veteran, and his second wife Katherine Adams Keller, an educated woman from Memphis. Several months before Helen's second birthday, a serious illness—possibly meningitis or scarlet fever ...

  7. Helen Keller Biography

    Portrait of Helen Keller as a young girl, with a white dog on her lap (August 1887) Helen Adams Keller was born a healthy child in Tuscumbia, Alabama, on June 27, 1880. Her parents were Kate Adams Keller and Colonel Arthur Keller. On her father's side she was descended from Colonel Alexander Spottswood, a colonial governor of Virginia, and on ...

  8. Helen Keller's Life and Legacy

    A Brief Biographical Timeline. 1880: On June 27, Helen Keller is born in Tuscumbia, Alabama. 1882: Following a bout of illness, Helen loses her sight and hearing. 1887: Helen's parents hire Anne Sullivan, a graduate of the Perkins School for the Blind, to be Helen's tutor.Anne begins by teaching Helen that objects have names and that she can use her fingers to spell them.

  9. Helen Keller

    Helen Keller. Helen Keller holding a magnolia, ca. 1920. Helen Adams Keller was an American writer and speaker. She was born in Tuscumbia, Alabama in 1880 to Arthur H. Keller and Kate Adams Keller. [1] When she was nineteen months old she became sick and lost her eyesight and hearing.

  10. Helen Keller biography and timeline

    See below for a timeline of Keller's achievements. Helen Keller reading, 1907. Courtesy of Library of Congress. Helen Keller born in Tuscumbia, Alabama. June 27, 1880. Annie Sullivan arrives in ...

  11. Helen Keller's Books, Essays, and Speeches

    Helen Keller wrote 14 books and over 475 speeches and essays on topics such as faith, blindness prevention, birth control, the rise of fascism in Europe, and atomic energy. Her autobiography has been translated into 50 languages and remains in print. The books, essays, and speeches you can read here are a sampling of Helen Keller's writings in ...

  12. Helen Keller summary

    Helen Keller, (born June 27, 1880, Tuscumbia, Ala., U.S.—died June 1, 1968, Westport, Conn.), U.S. author and educator who was blind and deaf.Keller was deprived by illness of sight and hearing at the age of 19 months, and her speech development soon ceased as well. Five years later she began to be instructed by Anne Sullivan (1866-1936), who taught her the names of objects by pressing the ...

  13. "The Story of My Life" by Helen Keller: Study Guide & Literary Analysis

    Introduction. "The Story of My Life" by Helen Keller is a remarkable autobiography that chronicles the life of a woman who, despite being deaf and blind from a very young age, overcame incredible obstacles to learn to communicate with the world around her. Published in 1903, the book provides an insightful and inspiring look into Helen's ...

  14. Biography: Helen Keller for Kids

    Helen Keller was born on June 27, 1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabama. She was a happy healthy baby. Her father, Arthur, worked for a newspaper while her mother, Kate, took care of the home and baby Helen. She grew up on her family's large farm called Ivy Green. She enjoyed the animals including the horses, dogs, and chickens.

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    Larsen, D. (2019). Helen Keller: A Biography. Routledge. Keller, H. (1903). The Story of My Life. Doubleday, Page & Co. Swift, H. G. (2008). The Life and Times of Helen Keller. Read Books. ... Helen Keller and Her Autobiography 'The Story of My Life' Essay. Helen Keller was a writer, educator, and activist for people with disabilities ...

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    Helen Keller (1880-1968) was an American author, political activist and lecturer. At 19 months old, Keller contracted an unknown illness described by doctors as "an acute congestion of the stomach and the brain", which is now thought to have been scarlet fever or meningitis. The illness left her both deaf and blind, completely shaping the way ...

  17. The Story of My Life Summary

    Helen Keller was born on June 27, 1880 in the small town of Tuscumbia, Alabama. When she was a year old, she was stricken with an illness that left her without sight or hearing. In the early years after her illness, it was difficult for her to communicate, even with her family; she lived her life entirely in the dark, often angry and frustrated ...

  18. Essay on Helen Keller

    The first essay is a long essay on the Helen Keller of 400-500 words. This long essay about Helen Keller is suitable for students of class 7, 8, 9 and 10, and also for competitive exam aspirants. The second essay is a short essay on Helen Keller of 150-200 words. These are suitable for students and children in class 6 and below.

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    The charge of expropriation, of both thought and idiom, was old, and dogged her at intervals during her early and middle years: she was a fraud, a puppet, a plagiarist. She was false coin. She was ...

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    Philosophy is the history of a deaf-blind person writ large. From the talks of Socrates up through Plato, Berkeley and Kant, philosophy records the efforts of human intelligence to be free of the clogging material world and fly forth into a universe of pure idea. A deaf-blind person ought to find special meaning in Plato's Ideal World.

  21. Short Essay & Paragraph About Helen Keller

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  22. A Short Biography of Helen Keller

    Helen Keller was a prolific writer. She produced many works on her experiences as a member of the deaf and blind communities. In total, she has published 12 books and written several articles. Among her earliest works was a fictional story The Frost King (1891) which Keller wrote at the tender age of 11.

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