Helen and Teacher: The Story of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan Macy

Helen and Teacher: The Story of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan Macy

Helen and Teacher: The Story of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan Macy

Helen and Teacher: The Story of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan Macy

Synopsis

At the heart of this wonderful biography is the relationship between two great American women whose lives were bound together for all time. Joseph P. Lash, author of Eleanor and Franklin, follows this gifted, passionate, and humanly flawed pair for 100 years, from Annie's childhood in an almshouse in the 1860s, through decades of international fame, to Helen's death in 1968. Among the vivid characters associated with their lives are Alexander Graham Bell, Mark Twain, Andrew Carnegie, Charlie Chaplin, and Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt.

Excerpt

"A fire of hatred blazed up in me which burned for many years."

In 1955, in her seventy-fifth year, Helen Keller, a woman heaped with honors, still resolute in the service of the blind, esteemed by all and loved by those close to her, at long last finished her book about her teacher Anne Sullivan Macy. Although she lived another thirteen years, it was her last book. She subtitled it A Tribute of the Foster-Child of Her Mind. "To this day," she wrote--and it was nineteen years since the death of the woman she always called Teacher--"I cannot 'command the uses of my soul' or stir my mind to action without the memory of the quasi-electric touch of Teacher's fingers upon my palm." Nella Braddy Henney, whom Helen Keller described as "beloved friend and literary counselor" and who had written the definitive biography of Teacher, noted in her introduction to Helen's memoir that "as long as Annie Sullivan lived, and she died in 1936, a question remained as to how much of what was called Helen Keller was in reality Annie Sullivan. The answer is not simple. During the creative years neither could have done without the other." It is impossible to write a book about Helen Keller that is not also a book about Annie Sullivan, and the story therefore begins with her.

In 1880, when Annie Sullivan, aged fourteen, was permitted to enroll in the Perkins Institution for the Blind in South Boston and begin her schooling, she discovered that history for her schoolmates was the Civil War. For Annie there was only one event in history, the Great Famine in . . .

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