Helen Keller Biography Age, Career, Books, Family, and Many More
Helen Keller came into the world on June 27, 1880, in Tuscumbia, Alabama, specifically in the region of West Tuscumbia. Unfortunately, at the tender age of 19 months, she experienced a severe illness that left her both blind and deaf.
Her father, Arthur, was employed at a newspaper, while her mother, Kate, diligently managed the household and cared for young Helen. For the initial years of her life, Helen relied on home signs as her primary means of communication. However, everything changed when she turned seven and crossed paths with Anne Sullivan, her first teacher and lifelong companion.
Following her education at both specialized institutions and mainstream schools, Keller embarked on an educational journey that took her to Radcliffe College, a part of Harvard University. Remarkably, she achieved the distinction of becoming the first deafblind individual in the United States to attain a Bachelor of Arts degree.
When Helen was around one and a half years old she became very sick. One of Helen’s Swiss ancestors was the first teacher for the deaf in Zurich. Contemporary doctors believe it might have been meningitis, caused by the bacterium Neisseria meningitidis (meningococcus), or possibly Haemophilus influenzae. Keller was afflicted at the age of 19 months with an illness (possibly scarlet fever) that left her blind and deaf. She lived, as she recalled in her autobiography, “at sea in a dense fog”.
Helen tried to communicate with the people around her. Helen Keller was viewed as isolated but was very in touch with the outside world. She had special motions she would use to indicate that she wanted her mom or her dad. She was able to enjoy music by feeling the beat and she was able to have a strong connection with animals through touch. However, she would also get frustrated. She was delayed in picking up language, but that did not stop her from having a voice. She realized that she was different and it was extremely difficult to let others know what she needed. She would sometimes throw tantrums, kicking and hitting other people in anger.
Anne Sullivan stayed as a companion to Helen Keller long after she taught her. Soon Helen’s parents realized that she needed some special help. She was a young woman from Scotland who had no experience with deaf or blind people. Annie had been blind but had her eyesight restored by surgery. She progressed to working as a secretary as well and eventually became a constant companion to Keller. Annie came to work with Helen on March 3, 1887, and would be her helper and companion for the next 50 years.
On January 22, 1916, Keller and Sullivan traveled to the small town of Menomonie in western Wisconsin to deliver a lecture at the Mabel Tainter Memorial Building. She taught Helen a number of words. Helen would repeat the words into Annie’s hand. Details of her talk were provided in the weekly Dunn County News on January 22, 1916:
A message of optimism, of hope, of good cheer, and of loving service was brought to Menomonie Saturday—a message that will linger long with those fortunate enough to have received it. This message came with the visit of Helen Keller and her teacher, Mrs. John Macy, and both had a hand in imparting it Saturday evening to a splendid audience that filled The Memorial. The wonderful girl who has so brilliantly triumphed over the triple afflictions of blindness, dumbness, and deafness, gave a talk with her own lips on “Happiness”, and it will be remembered always as a piece of inspired teaching by those who heard it.
Keller wrote a total of 12 published books and several articles. She wanted to inspire them and give them hope. One of her earliest pieces of writing, at age 11, was The Frost King (1891). She joined the American Foundation for the Blind and traveled the country giving speeches and raising money for the foundation. There were allegations that this story had been plagiarized from The Frost Fairies by Margaret Canby. Later, during World War II, she visited with wounded army soldiers encouraging them not to give up. An investigation into the matter revealed that Keller may have experienced a case of cryptomnesia, which was that she had Canby’s story read to her but forgot about it, while the memory remained in her subconscious. Helen spent much of her life working to raise money and awareness for people with disabilities, especially the deaf and the blind. When Keller was young, Anne Sullivan introduced her to Phillips Brooks, who introduced her to Christianity, Keller famously said: “I always knew He was there, but I didn’t know His name!”
- “The Frost King” (1891)
- The Story of My Life (1903)
- Optimism: an essay (1903) by T. Y. Crowell and company
- My Key of Life: Optimism (1904), Isbister
- The World I Live In (1908)
- The miracle of life (1909) Hodder and Stoughton
- The song of the stone wall (1910) The Century co.
- Out of the Dark, a series of essays on socialism (1913)
- Uncle Sam Is Calling (set to music by Pauline B. Story) (1917)
- My Religion (1927; also called Light in My Darkness)
- Midstream: my later life (1929) Doubleday, Doran & Company
- We bereaved.(1929) L. Fulenwider, Inc
- Peace at eventide (1932) Methuen & co. ltd
- Helen Keller in Scotland: a personal record written by herself (1933) Methuen, 212pp
- Helen Keller’s journal (1938) M. Joseph, 296pp
- Let us Have Faith (1940), Doubleday, & Doran & co., inc.
- Teacher: Anne Sullivan Macy: a tribute by the foster child of her mind. (1955), Doubleday (publisher)
- The Open Door (1957), Doubleday, 140pp
- The faith of Helen Keller (1967)
- Helen Keller: her socialist years, writings, and speeches (1967)
Sullivan married John Macy in 1905, and her health started failing around 1914.
Later Life and Death
Head and shoulder portrait of a beaming Helen on her 80th birthday, June 1960. On September 14, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the United States’ two highest civilian honors. During that visit to Washington, she also called on President John F. Kennedy at the White House. In 1965 she was elected to the National Women’s Hall of Fame at the New York World’s Fair. President Kennedy was just one in a long line of presidents Helen had met. Keller devoted much of her later life to raising funds for the American Foundation for the Blind. In her lifetime, she had met all of the presidents since Grover Cleveland. She died in her sleep on June 1, 1968, at her home, Arcan Ridge, located in Easton, Connecticut, a few weeks short of her eighty-eighth birthday. Her ashes were placed next to her companions, Anne Sullivan Macy and Polly Thomson, in St. Joseph’s Chapel of Washington Cathedral. Her ashes were buried at the Washington National Cathedral next to her constant companions, Anne Sullivan and Polly Thomson.
Also Check: Mark Twain
|Birth Place||Tuscumbia, Alabama, United States|
|Height In CM||162.56 CM|
|Height In Meter||1.6256 M|
|Parents||Father: Arthur H. Keller Mother: Kate Adams Keller|
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