The Story of My Life, by Helen Keller

The Story of My Life by Helen Keller: Book CoverFinished 2-23-10, rating 4/5, autobiography, pub. 1905

While my days at Radcliffe were still in the future, they were encircled with a halo of romance, which they have lost; but in the transition from romantic to actual I have learned many things I should never have known had I not tried the experiment.  One of them is the precious science of patience, which teaches us that we should take our education as we would take a walk in the country, leisurely, our minds hospitably open to impressions of every sort.  Such knowledge floods the soul unseen with a soundless tidal wave of deepening thought.

Chapter 20

When Helen was a year and a half old she became blind and deaf due to a fever.  She lived in her isolated world until she was 7 and a teacher came to open up a world of communication to her.  Anne Sullivan taught her manual sign language, braille, and lip-reading.  She was able to travel to special schools and teachers in Boston and New York and eventually graduated from Radcliffe with honors.  She wrote this autobiography at the age of 22.

That’s the bare bones because I think most everyone knows more than I did about Helen Keller before I read this book.  Somehow I missed the movies and any detailed stories of her life, so I was in complete awe of what this girl accomplished.  Helen had a thirst for knowledge and her love of learning and books was intense.  She attended high school and college classes and succeeded.  I felt in turn inspired and embarrassed by her.  If she could lead a productive and fulfilled life with her handicaps surely any of my small problems were not important, but these things she was able to learn and do made feel like I was wasting my days away.  Helen learned French and Latin, sign language and lip-reading, and braille and how to speak without being able to hear a thing.  How amazing is that?

I cannot even imagine her silent and dark world and yet, this book did not contain self-pity.  Things that would be scary to any child, almost drowning, almost getting hit by a train, being stuck in a tree during a thunderstorm, could only have been more frightening to Helen.  I don’t know why it took me so long to read this! 

This book was from my personal library.