Helen Keller was born in Tuscumbia, Alabama, on June 27, 1880, to parents Captain Arthur H. Keller, a former officer of the Confederate Army, and Kate Adams Keller, cousin of Robert E. Lee. She was not born blind and deaf; it was not until nineteen months of age that she came down with an illness that did not last for a particularly long time, but it left her deaf and blind. At that time her only communication partner was Martha Washington, the 6-year old daughter of the family cook, who was able to create a sign language with Helen, so that by age seven, she had over sixty different signs to communicate with her family
In 1886, her mother Kate Keller was inspired by an account in Charles Dickens’ American Notes of the successful education of another deaf blind child, Laura Bridgman, and travelled to a doctor in Baltimore for advice. He put her in touch with local expert Alexander Graham Bell, who was working with deaf children at the time. Bell advised the couple to contact the Perkins Institute for the Blind, the school where Bridgman had been educated, which was then located in South Boston, Boston, Massachusetts. The school delegated teacher and former student, Anne Sullivan, herself visually impaired and then only 20 years old, to become Keller’s teacher. It was the beginning of 49-year-long relationship.
Helen’s big breakthrough in communication came one day when she realized that the motions her teacher was making on her palm, while running cool water over her palm from a pump, symbolized the idea of “water;” she then nearly exhausted Sullivan demanding the names of all the other familiar objects in her world including her prized doll. Anne was able to teach Helen to speak using the Tadoma method touching the lips and throat of others as they speak combined with “fingerspelling” alphabetical characters on the palm of Helen’s hand. Later, Keller would also learn to read English, French, German, Greek, and Latin in Braille.
In 1888, Keller attended the Perkins School for the Blind. In 1894,Keller and Sullivan moved to New York City to attend the Wright-Humason School for the Deaf and Horace Mann School for the Deaf. In1896 they returned to Massachusetts and Helen entered The Cambridge School for Young Ladies before gaining admittance, in 1900, to Radcliffe College, where Standard Oil magnate Henry Huttleton Rogers paid for her education. In 1904 at the age of 24, Keller graduated from Radcliffe magna cum laude, becoming the first deaf and blind person to graduate from a college.
Helen Keller wrote Light in my Darkness, which was published in 1960. In the book, she advocates the teachings of the Swedish scientist and philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg. She also wrote an autobiography called The Story of My Life, which was published in 1903.. In total, she wrote twelve books and authored numerous articles.
Extracted from Wikipedia