This is my “Celebrity Memoir” book to fill the Book Riot Read Harder challenge for 2018. Helen Keller was rather famous in her day, being the first deaf-blind person to earn a BA degree. I believe she is still admired by many in the deaf community.
I don’t suppose it is surprising that she was an avid reader, once her teacher Miss Sullivan managed to make the breakthrough that allowed Helen’s education to begin. It was an activity that she could pursue on her own at her own speed and, like all of us, gain information on subjects that intrigued her.
I was surprised by how much she loved poetry, however. For me poetry is very much about hearing it—I often read it aloud in order to properly appreciate it. Since Helen was unable to hear it, she must have had a very sophisticated sense of the rhythm of the words, probably seeing many more nuances in it than I do. I was also amazed at the number of languages that she managed to master—German, French, Latin, Greek—and I wish I had the same facility with languages. I struggle to maintain my little bit of French and Spanish!
I couldn’t help but notice how much the natural world and companion animals were part of her life. The smells of the garden or the seaside were ways of opening up her world and her pet cats, dogs and horses provided unjudgemental companionship.
I had hoped that this was the story of Ms. Keller that I read during my childhood, but it was a different work. I think the book that I was familiar with was based on the life of her teacher, Anne Sullivan, and I hope to track it down some day for a reminiscent read—I remember reading it many times as a child and loving it.