Saturday, 19 August 2017

The Story Of My Life by Helen Keller

The Story Of My Life by Helen Keller
First published in America by Doubleday in 1903.

59 pages towards Olivia's fun August Reading Challenge to read an average of 50 pages each day throughout the month. Total = 1470 pages.

My 1900s read for this year's Goodreads / BookCrossing Decade Challenge - now completed!
1903 - The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
1914 - Rosshalde by Hermann Hesse
1929 - The Last September by Elizabeth Bowen
1938 - The Fashion in Shrouds by Margery Allingham
1940 - The Rights of Man by H G Wells
1959 - Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
1963 - The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
1974 - Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said by Philip K Dick
1987 - The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera
1996 - Berta La Larga by Cuca Canals
2001 - There Were Many Horses by Luiz Ruffato
2015 - Pierced by the Sun by Laura Esquivel

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When she was 19 months old, Helen Keller (1880–1968) suffered a severe illness that left her blind and deaf. Not long after, she also became mute. Her tenacious struggle to overcome these handicaps - with the help of her inspired teacher, Anne Sullivan - is one of the great stories of human courage and dedication.
In this classic autobiography, first published in 1903, Miss Keller recounts the first 22 years of her life, including the magical moment at the water pump when, recognizing the connection between the word "water" and the cold liquid flowing over her hand, she realized that objects had names. Subsequent experiences were equally noteworthy: her joy at eventually learning to speak, her friendships with Oliver Wendell Holmes, Edward Everett Hale and other notables, her education at Radcliffe (from which she graduated cum laude), and-underlying all-her extraordinary relationship with Miss Sullivan, who showed a remarkable genius for communicating with her eager and quick-to-learn pupil.
These and many other aspects of Helen Keller's life are presented here in clear, straightforward prose full of wonderful descriptions and imagery that would do credit to a sighted writer. Completely devoid of self-pity, yet full of love and compassion for others, this deeply moving memoir offers an unforgettable portrait of one of the outstanding women of the twentieth century.

For a woman to go to college at all in the early 1900s was achievement enough that a memoir of her struggle to get there would be of interest to me. When I think that Helen Keller was also deaf and blind, her determination becomes all the more incredible. I cannot remember a time when I didn't know of Keller's existence and I am sure my mother gave me a child's edition of her story (a Ladybird book?) as soon as I was old enough to read it! However I hadn't given this example of perseverance much thought since until I needed a 1900s-published book to complete the above Decade Challenge and decided to revisit Keller's story.

I like that this memoir is written in a straightforward style without the reliance on overly emotional scenes or appeals to readers for pity. Even in her early twenties, as she was writing this memoir, Keller is already well-read and erudite beyond her years. At one point she notes blind poet Homer's immortality through his writing and I thought that the same is now true of her. Helen Keller is a name I think many people would recognise. She frequently makes sure to give credit where it is due so I understood that her success was equally as a much a result of her family's support and Anne Sullivan's tireless dedication as it was to Helen own efforts. It was also interesting to see the facilities available to deaf and/or blind American children at this period - at least to those whose parents could afford it - and to see how those resources dwindled as Helen strode past the needs of a child's education, pioneering the right of disabled people to expect college educations and independent lives. An inspirational woman.

Etsy Find!
by Side Sandwich in
Illinois, USA

Click pic to visit Etsy Shop

Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Helen Keller / Biography and memoir / Books from America


  1. You've read so many pages. In total by the end of the month you should be at 1550 pages, so you'll definitely be surpassing that!