Short Summary of The Story of My Life
The story is an inspirational account of the world of a blind and deaf girl, and how she triumphs over her disabilities, going to school and college, facing exams and learning to enjoy the simple things in life. Some of her concerns are common to all young people of her age, but other concerns arose exclusively out of her desire to triumph over her disabilities. The book shows us the perception of a person who has been denied sight and sound and struggles to understand the world and interact with those around her. It also shows us how normal people can help to aid those with disabilities.
Helen Adams Keller was born on 27 June 1880, in the north-west Alabama city of Tuscumbia. Her father was a retired Confederate army captain and editor of a local newspaper The North Alabamian, while her mother, Kate, was an educated young woman from Memphis. Helen had a younger brother, Phillips Brooks and a sister, Mildred.
When Helen was nineteen months old, she was afflicted by an unknown illness, possibly scarlet fever or meningitis, which left her deaf and blind. Helen, who was an extremely intelligent child, tried to understand her surroundings through touch, smell and taste; and by the age of seven, Helen had developed nearly sixty hand gestures to communicate with her parents and ask for things. However, she was often frustrated by her inability to express herself. With the help of her teacher, Anne Sullivan, Helen learned the manual alphabet and started communicating with fingerspelling. Within a few months of working with Anne, Helen’s vocabulary increased to hundreds of words and simple sentences. Anne also taught Helen how to read braille and raised type, and to print block letters. By the age of nine, Helen began to learn to speak and read lips.
Helen attended Perkins School for the Blind for four years. She then spent a year at the Cambridge School for Young Ladies to prepare for Radcliffe College. In 1904, she graduated from Radcliffe and became the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.
While in college, Keller undertook an essay assignment that eventually took the shape of her autobiography The Story of My Life in 1903. In this book, Helen chronicled her education and the first twenty-three years with her teacher and friend, Anne Sullivan providing supplementary accounts of the teaching process. The autobiography went on to become an almost unparalleled bestseller in multiple languages and laid the foundation of Keller’s literary career.