The Story of My Life, a remarkable account of overcoming the debilitating challenges of being both deaf and blind, has become an international classic, making Helen Keller one of the most well-known, inspirational figures in history. Originally published in 1903, Keller's fascinating memoir narrates the events of her life up to her third year at Radcliffe College.Helen Keller's story of struggle and achievement is one of unquenchable hope. From tales of her difficult early days, to details of her relationship with her beloved teacher Anne Sullivan, to her impressions of academic life, Keller's honest, straightforward writing lends insight into an amazing mind. Like the original, this centenary edition of The Story of My Life includes letters Keller wrote to friends throughout her childhood and adolescence that chronicle her intellectual and sensory progression, as well as assistant John Macy's commentary on her interpretations of her surroundings
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October 24, 2005
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Excerpt from The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
It is with a kind of fear that I begin to write the history of my life. I have, as it were, a superstitious hesitation in lifting the veil that clings about my childhood like a golden mist. The task of writing an autobiography is a difficult one. When I try to classify my earliest impressions, I find that fact and fancy look alike across the years that link the past with the present. The woman paints the child's experiences in her own fantasy. A few impressions stand out vividly from the first years of my life; but "the shadows of the prison-house are on the rest." Besides, many of the joys and sorrows of childhood have lost their poignancy; and many incidents of vital importance in my early education have been forgotten in the excitement of great discoveries. In order, therefore, not to be tedious I shall try to present in a series of sketches only the episodes that seem to me to be the most interesting and important.
I was born on June 27, 1880, in Tuscumbia, a little town of northern Alabama.
The family on my father's side is descended from Caspar Keller, a native of Switzerland, who settled in Maryland. One of my Swiss ancestors was the first teacher of the deaf in Zurich and wrote a book on the subject of their education-rather a singular coincidence; though it is true that there is no king who has not had a slave among his ancestors, and no slave who has not had a king among his.
My grandfather, Caspar Keller's son, "entered" large tracts of land in Alabama and finally settled there. I have been told that once a year he went from Tuscumbia to Philadelphia on horseback to purchase supplies for the plantation, and my aunt has in her possession many of the letters to his family, which give charming and vivid accounts of these trips.
My Grandmother Keller was a daughter of one of Lafayette's aides, Alexander Moore, and granddaughter of Alexander Spotswood, an early Colonial Governor of Virginia. She was also second cousin to Robert E. Lee.