This book 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. Much of her education she cannot explain herself, and since a knowledge of that is necessary to an understanding of what she has written, it was thought best to supplement her autobiography with the reports and letters of her teacher, Miss Anne Mansfield Sullivan. The addition of a further account of Miss Keller's personality and achievements may be unnecessary; yet it will help to make clear some of the traits of her character and the nature of the work which she and her teacher have done.
For the third part of the book the Editor is responsible, though all that is valid in it he owes to authentic records and to the advice of Miss Sullivan.
The Editor desires to express his gratitude and the gratitude of Miss Keller and Miss Sullivan to The Ladies' Home Journal and to its editors, Mr. Edward Bok and Mr. William V. Alexander, who have been unfailingly kind and have given for use in this book all the photographs which were taken expressly for the Journal; and the Editor thanks Miss Keller's many friends who have lent him her letters to them and given him valuable information; especially Mrs. Laurence Hutton, who supplied him with her large collection of notes and anecdotes; Mr. John Hitz, Superintendent of the Volta Bureau for the Increase and Diffusion of Knowledge relating to the Deaf; and Mrs. Sophia C. Hopkins, to whom Miss Sullivan wrote those illuminating letters, the extracts from which give a better idea of her methods with her pupil than anything heretofore published.
Helen Keller was born on June 27, 1880, in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Though born with the ability to see and hear, at 19 months-old she contracted an acute illness that left her both deaf and blind. Eventually, 20-year-old Anne Sullivan, herself visually impaired, became Keller's speech instructor. It was the beginning of a 49-year-long relationship during which Sullivan evolved into Keller's governess and eventually her companion.
In 1914, Sullivan's health began to fail, so a young woman from Scotland, Polly Thompson was hired to keep house. Though she had no experience with deaf or blind people, Thompson progressed to working as a secretary, and eventually a constant companion to Keller.
Keller went on to become a world-famous speaker and author. She was a suffragist, a pacifist, a radical socialist, and a birth control advocate. In 1915 she and George Kessler founded the Helen Keller International organization, devoted to research in vision, health and nutrition. In 1920 she helped to found the American Civil Liberties Union.
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In this essay originally aired in the 1950s, deaf and blind author, activist, and lecturer Helen Keller discusses her vision of faith and how it gives her hope for the future of mankind in "The Light of a Brighter Day", her contribution to NPR’s This I Believe series.
This I Believe is a National Public Radio program that features Americans, from the famous to the unknown, completing the thought that begins with the series title. The pieces that make up the program compel listeners to re-think not only what and how they have arrived at their own personal beliefs, but also the extent to which they share them with others.
Featuring a star-studded list of contributors that includes John McCain, Isabel Allende, and Colin Powell, as well as pieces from the original 1950's series including Helen Keller and Jackie Robinson, the This I Believe collection also contains essays by a Brooklyn lawyer, a woman who sells yellow pages advertising in Fort Worth, and a man who serves on the state of Rhode Island's parole board. The result is a stirring, funny and always provocative trip inside the minds and hearts of a diverse group of Americans whose beliefs, and the incredibly varied ways in which they choose to express them, reveal the American spirit at its best.
This short audio essay is an excerpt from the audiobook edition of the This I Believe anthology.