Helen Keller Facts:
Known for: learning to communicate despite being blind and deaf
Occupation: lecturer, writer, reformer
Helen Keller Biography:
Anne Sullivan was that teacher. The next events are well-known: Helen Keller learning to understand language through the combination of water from a pump on one hand and the spelling of "water" with the manual alphabet into her other hand. Helen Keller said later, "That living word awakened my soul, gave it light, hope, joy, set it free!"
Helen Keller progressed with language quickly under Anne Sullivan's tutorage. She learned Braille at the Perkins Institution and learned to speak at the Horace Mann School for the Deaf. Helen Keller went on to study at the Wright-Humason School for the Deaf, the Cambridge School for Young Ladies, and to Radcliffe College, from which she graduated in 1904 with high honors.
For the rest of her life, Helen Keller worked for improving education for the blind, deaf, and mute. She traveled and lectured extensively, even in vaudeville (1922-24).
Helen Keller wrote her autobiography, publishing The Story of My Life (1903) and Midstream: My Later Life (1929) as well as publishing several other books, including The Practice of Optimism (1903, 1915), My Religion (1927), and Teacher, Anne Sullivan Macy: A Tribute by the Foster Child of her Mind (1955). She also worked for socialism and for women's rights and raised money for the American Foundation for the Blind.
Anne Sullivan Macy, who married Keller's editor John Albert Macy, remained a companion and support to Keller until her death in 1936. Helen Keller survived Anne Sullivan Macy by more than thirty years, until she died on June 1, 1968. Helen Keller is buried at Washington Cathedral, Washington, D.C.
Helen Keller's life was told in "The Miracle Worker," originally a play by William Gibson and later made into the film of the same name with Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke, both of whom won Oscars for their performances.
Places: Tuscumbia, Alabama; Westport, Connecticut; Cambridge, Massachusetts
More About Helen Keller:
- March 24, 2003: a coin with Helen Keller's image was issued by the U.S. Mint.
- October 9, 2009: a statue of Helen Keller was unveiled, one of two statues representing the state of Alabama in the U.S. Capitol's collection: Helen Keller