The story of my life

In her book Helen Keller only wants to describe the most important and

interesting parts of her life till she became 20 years old.

Helen was born on June 27 1880 in Tuscumbia, a little town of northern

Alabama. Her father was a captain in the Confederate Army, her mother, Kate

Adams, was his second wife and many years younger. The family lived in a

little house with an old garden, which was the paradise of her childhood.

When Helen was 19 months old, she became very ill. The illness, which they

called an acute congestion of the stomach and the brain, closed her eyes and

her ears. Early one morning, when everybody thought Helen would die, the

fever left her as suddenly as it had come. The family was very happy, but

nobody, not even the doctor, knew that she should never see or hear again.

At first Helen was very disappointed that she didn't understand any more

what people said. She became very angry and upset and started screaming and

crying. It was extremely hard for her parents to educate her correctly. In

fact they couldn't do it, because they didn't know how to manage. Helens

parents felt very sorry for her and were worried.

One day Helens mother read the book "American Notes" by Dickens. This book

deals of a deaf and blind girl who had been educated. So her mother went

with her to special Eyedoctors, when Helen was six years old. They got the

address of a teacher for Helen - Miss Sullivan. Three months before Helen

became 7 years old, Miss Anne Sullivan came into their house. Meanwhile the

family had moved to a larger house - father, mother, two older halfbrothers

, Helen and later a little sister - Mildred. Helen writes in her biography,

that this was the most important day in her life when Miss Sullivan came. In

her book Helen describes her first lesson: Miss Sullivan gave Helen a doll.

She played with it a little while. Then Miss Sullivan slowly spelled the


" d o l l " into her hand. Helen was very proud, that she could spell a

word and the following days she learned more. Now she became happier because

she could learn. She explored everything with her hands and learned the name

of every object that she touched.

Miss Sullivan was a very good and sensitive teacher. She also took her

across the fields where men were preparing the earth for the seed. Helen

learned how plants and trees grow, how birds build their nests, how every

creature find their food. One day Helen asked Miss Sullivan : "What is love?

" - page 21 ff. -

The next important step in her life was learning to read. As soon as Helen

could spell a few words Miss Sullivan gave her ships of cardboards on which

were printes words in raised letters. Helen quickly learned that each

printed word stood for an object. Soon she read little books. She really

hunted for words. Studying was for her like playing, because her teacher

illustrated everything beautifully. Helen liked her very much.

In May 1888 Helen visited Boston with her mother and teacher. They went to

the Perkin Institution for the Blind. Here she got to know other blind

children. For the first time in her life Helen could talk to other children

in the same language. She was very happy.

In spring 1890 Helen learned to speak. She kept one hand on her throat while

the other hand felt the movements of her lips. Another teacher taught

Helen. Her method was ...- page 43 f -

Now Helen had to practise very hard, because she couldn't speak clearly in

the beginning. But she was very eager and busy and in the end successful.

Very soon Helen began writing little stories and later books. She had had

many and different interests. So Helen liked to visit exhibitions where she

got to know things like a model of the Santa Maria or the Cape of the Good

Hope etc.

>From Oct. 1893 Helen began to have lessons in special subjects like we have

at school. She got Latin lessons at a special teacher, she also read the

histories of Greece, Rome and the United States.

In Oct. 1894 Helen went to a special school for the Deaf in New York City.

Here she got the highest level in lip-reading. In these 2 years Helen

studied math, geography, French, German. Before the end of the first year

she could read "Wilhelm Tell" in German and she learned to speak German.

In 1896 Helens father died after a short illness. This was her first great

sorrow, her first personal experience with death. She had had a very good

relation with her father whom she had loved very much.

In Oct. 1896 Helen entered the Cambridge School for Young Ladies to be

prepared for Radcliffe College. Miss Sullivan always went with her. Her

studies for the first year were : English literature, German, Latin,

arithmetic etc. Helen had to read the lips of her teachers, because it was a

school for normal pupils. Miss Sullivan always sat beside her and spelled

the words into her hand.

In July 1897 Helen took her examination for Radcliffe College in Elementary

and Advanced German, French, Latin, Greek an Roman History. Because there

were differences between a teacher at this school and Miss Sullivan Helens

mother decided to take Mildred and Helen from school.

So Helen had private lessons in the subjects: algebra, geometry, Greek and


Helen found languages and literature easier than mathematics. In June 1899

she took her final examination for Radcliffe College.

In autumn 1900 Helen went to Radcliffe College. She had looked forward to it

for years. In the first year she studied French, German, history and

English. The lectures were spelled into her hand as quickly as possible.

Helen couldn't make notes during the lectures, because her hands were busy

listening. When she came home, she wrote down what she remembered on her

special type-writer. During the years Helen had learned that knowledge is


Helen Keller had many interests and qualities. She loved to read in several

languages. She also loved the country and out-of- door sports. Helen learned

to ride, to sail, to row, to canoe. Her favourite sport was sailing. When

she was in Halifax she enjoyed it most.- page 90- Helen loved nature!

Whenever it was possible, her dog went with her. All dogs she had had ,

always seemed to understand her, they kept close beside her.

Helen liked very much to visit museums and art shops. She couldn't see but

she liked to touch great works of art. Then she discovered the thoughts and

emotions the artist wants to show.

Helen could feel hate, love courage in the faces. Just as she could in

living faces when she was allowed to touch them. - page 98 and last sentence

page 99-

Helen liked people who were honest and true, who treated her like a normal

seeing person- and she got to know a lot of them in her life.

Helen Keller was a very remarkable person.

Was born on June 27,1880 in Tuscumbia, Alabama

Acute illness with 19 month

blind and deaf

Parents didn't know how to educate her

Anne Sullivan came

She knew how to educate Helen

Learned to read with fingers

Learned to read the Braille

Visited Perkin Institution in Boston met other blind


Learned to speak

went a school for the Deaf in New York





got highest level in lip-reading

father died in 1896

entered Cambridge School a normal school

to prepare for Radcliffe College

learned:-English literature





were taken from Cambridge College because of differences between a teacher

and Miss Sullivan

got private lessons

June 1898 got final examination for Radcliffe College

Went to Radcliffe College and studied there

The story of my life

By Helen Keller

A Biography

Characters: Helen Keller blind and deaf (because of an acute illness when

she was 19 month old)

Anne Sullivan (teacher) came to Helens house when

Helen was 6 years old

Kate Keller (her mother) was the second wife of her


Mr. Keller (her father) died when she was 16 years old

(because of a short illness)

Place: Tuscumbia, Alabama (USA) where she lived ; New York City in a

school for the Deaf ;

Boston in a School for the Blind

Time: from June 27, 1880 till 1900

Contents: It's a Biography of Helen Keller till she is ca. 20 years old

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