The story of my life--by Helen keller
"Never bend your head. Hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye."
About the Author
Helen Adams Keller, born on June 27, 1880, in Alabama, was an American author, political activist and lecturer. She was the first deaf-blind person to receive a Bachelors of Arts degree. Her physical disabilities were the results of an illness, most likely scarlet fever or meningitis, at the young age of nineteen months. Despite her illness, Helen showed keen concern for communication with others and for overcoming her physical disabilities. Her teacher, Anne Sullivan taught her for many years to prepare her to face the outside world.
In 1903, at the age of twenty two, Helen wrote her autobiography The Story of my Life with the help of her teacher Ann Sullivan and Ann’s husband John Macy. The book uncovers the inspirational journey of Helen from her childhood through her adolescence; the struggle to gain education; and her experience in college. Helen enjoyed the companionship of many famous literary geniuses of her age, including Dr. Alexander Graham Bell and Mark Twain. Helen Keller and Mark Twain are often regarded as the ‘radicals’ of the twentieth century. Helen spent most of her life raising funds for the blind and her social work was rewarded by several honours awarded to her by the President of the United States. She died in her sleep on June 1, 1968, at her home in Connecticut. Her ashes were buried next to her beloved teachers’, Anne Sullivan and Polly Thompson.
Considered as one of the greatest books of the twentieth century, The Story of My Life is an autobiographical account of Miss Helen Keller. The book traces her inspiring journey from childhood to her college days, as she overcomes her disabilities to eventually “conquer the world by the power of mind.” (Mark Twain)
This was book written by Keller at the age of 22 and, hence, the prose is comfortably simple and straightforward. However, the book is rich in description; it is episodic, with different events from Helen’s life described in some detail. These events are mostly related to her learning progression with her teacher, Miss Sullivan, and at the different institutions that she attended during her first two decades. Helen also describes her adventures in different places, including her outdoor activities and her visit to the World’s Fair of 1893. Besides, the extensive lists of the books she has read and that of the famous persons she has met cover a sizeable portion of the book.
It is quite fascinating to read the first-hand account of a deaf-blind person’s journey to light and education. The will-power of Helen and the patience of Miss Sullivan, both make this book an inspirational and motivational read.
Helen Adams Keller was born on a plantation called Ivy Green, in Tuscumbia, Alabama, on June 27, 1880 to Captain Arthur H. Keller and Kate Adams Keller. Later, at the age of nineteen months, she was contracted by an illness that left her deaf and blind.
After initial days of sickness, “crude signs” were used by Helen to communicate with her mother. Eventually, Helen realized that she was different from others. She attempted to copy the gestures of their lips while talking but failed to attain any results.
Miss Ann Sullivan came to educate Helen on the third of March, 1887. Helen slowly learnt that everything has a name. With time, Miss Sullivan taught her to name, spell and read. She gave lessons on various subjects by narrating stories, poems or by engaging Helen into various playful activities. Helen gained speech techniques from Miss Sarah Fuller in 1889, and with Miss Sullivan’s assistance, Helen learned to speak.
Gradually, Helen started developing her ideas and forming stories from them. She wrote her first story “The Frost King” in 1891 and dedicated it to her teacher, Mr. Anagnos. Her story was found to be a plagiarized version of Miss Margaret Canby’s Story “The Frost Fairies”. An investigation into the matter revealed that Miss Keller could have experienced the case of cryptomnesia which had made her unconsciously retain Canby’s story that had been read to her.
She was later reassured and encouraged to write by her family, friends and Miss Canby herself. Helen was helped by Miss Sullivan to transgress all her physical limitations and receive hourly lessons at the Cambridge School for Ladies. With the support her teachers, friends, parents and her own strong will power, Helen secured admission in Radcliffe College. She became the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. At the end of this book, she expresses her indebtedness to her friends, benefactors and teachers who had transformed her “limitations into beautiful privileges”.