Helen Keller


Helen Adams Keller (Tuscumbia, Alabama, June 27, 1880-Easton, Connecticut, June 1, 1968) was an American writer, speaker, and political activist who was deafblind. At the age of nineteen months she suffered a serious illness that resulted in the total loss of her vision and hearing. Her inability to communicate from an early age was very traumatic for Helen and her family, so she was virtually uncontrollable for some time. When she turned seven, her parents decided to look for an instructor and so the Perkins Institute for the Blind sent them a young specialist, Anne Sullivan, who took charge of her training and achieved a breakthrough in special education. She continued to live by his side until her death in 1936.

After graduating from high school in Cambridge, Keller entered Radcliffe College, where he received a bachelor”s degree, becoming the first deaf-blind person to earn a college degree. During his youth, he began to support socialism and in 1905 formally joined the Socialist Party. Throughout his life he wrote multiple articles and more than a dozen books about his experiences and outlook on life, including The Story of My Life (1903) and Light in My Darkness (1927).

Keller became a prominent activist and philanthropist; she raised money for the American Foundation for the Blind, was a member of the Industrial Workers of the World – where she wrote from 1916 to 1918 – and promoted women”s suffrage, workers” rights, socialism and other left-wing causes, as well as being an active figure in the American Civil Liberties Union after co-founding it in 1920. In 1924 he left political activity to focus on the struggle for the rights of people with disabilities and traveled the world lecturing until 1957. For her achievements, President Lyndon Johnson awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964. Since 1980, by decree of Jimmy Carter, the day of her birth is commemorated as Helen Keller Day. Her life has been the subject of various artistic representations, both in film, theater and television, particularly highlighting The Miracle Worker.

Helen Adams Keller was born in Tuscumbia, the administrative center of Colbert County, where her parents had a farm, “Ivy Green,” built by Helen”s grandfather in 1820. While her father”s proposed name had been Mildred Campbell in honor of her great-grandmother, her mother decided that she should bear the middle name of her maternal grandmother, Helen Everett. However, her father, in his excitement, forgot part of the name on the way to church and she was finally enrolled as Helen Adams.

His father, Arthur H. Keller (1836-1896), had owned the Tuscumbia North Alabamian newspaper since 1870 and had served as a captain in the Confederate army. He had been married twice; his first wife, Sarah Rosser, with whom he had two children, died in 1877. The year after his widowing, he remarried a military daughter, Kate Adams (1856-1921), with whom he had three children: Helen, Mildred (1886-1969) and Philips (1891-1971). The marriage lasted until Arthur”s death in 1896 and Kate survived him until 1921.

His paternal grandmother was a niece of Robert E. Lee, daughter of LaFayette”s aide-de-camp Alexander Moore, and granddaughter of Alexander Spotswood, governor of Virginia from 1710 to 1722. Her maternal grandfather, Charles W. Adams (1817-1878), a native of Massachusetts and a descendant of the second U.S. president John Adams, also fought for the Confederate army during the American Civil War, where he earned the rank of colonel and served as a brigadier-general.

Her financially prosperous family suffered negative financial consequences after the defeat of the Confederacy and lived more modestly thereafter. Her paternal lineage traces back to Casper Keller, originally from Switzerland, who decided to settle in the New World and acquired tracts of land in Alabama; coincidentally, one of Helen”s Swiss ancestors was the first teacher for the deaf in Zurich. Keller reflected on this coincidence in his autobiography, “There is no king who has not had a slave among his ancestors, nor a slave who has not had a king among his own.”

First years

Helen Keller was born with a normal ability to see and hear and around her first year of life, she began to walk. She had excellent vision, to such an extent that she was able to easily distinguish a pin dropped on the floor. According to her mother, she was able to say a few words at the age of six months; she managed to babble “hello” and once burst into a meeting requesting “tea, tea, tea”. Some words, among them “water”, were retained in her memory even after her illness.

At the age of 19 months, he suffered from a serious pathology that doctors at the time called cerebro-stomach congestion, although modern specialists suggest that it could have been scarlet fever, measles or meningitis. A pediatrician thought her life was in danger and was pleasantly surprised to observe that the fever peaks later decreased and, consequently, she managed to recover. However, the disease left important sequelae in its wake: the total loss of hearing and vision. After that, she became a vain and demanding child who is easily angered. Her anger at feeling different from other people turned into fits of rage when she realized that others used their mouths to communicate, not gestures.

Helen spent her early years on her family”s farm, where she enjoyed walking around the gardens and being in contact with the animals there. During the period prior to Anne Sullivan”s arrival, she was unable to communicate with her family although she expressed her wishes through gestures. By the age of seven, Helen used approximately 60 homemade signs. Despite her lack of hearing and vision, she had as her regular companion the cook”s daughter, Martha Washington, a black girl six years older with whom she used to entertain herself on a daily basis.

At the age of five, the Keller family moved away from home. Although they doubted that Helen was amenable to instruction, her mother Kate, inspired by Charles Dickens”s travel book Notes from America, in which Laura Bridgman is educated by Samuel Howie despite her disability, sent her daughter to Baltimore in 1886 with her father to seek the advice of otolaryngologist J. Julian Chisolm. He recommended Alexander Graham Bell, who was working with deaf children in Washington, D.C. Bell, in turn, referred them to the Perkins Institute for the Blind, a school in South Boston where Bridgman had been educated. Bell, in turn, referred them to the Perkins Institute for the Blind, a school in South Boston where Bridgman had been educated. Michael Anagnos, the institute”s director, asked Anne Sullivan, a 20-year-old visually impaired former student, to become Keller”s instructor.

The arrival of Anne Sullivan

Anne Sullivan, a visually impaired graduate of Perkins Institute for the Blind, arrived at Helen”s home in March 1887. In her autobiography, Keller would say, “I marvel to think of the immeasurable contrasts between the two lives that meeting brought together.” She immediately requested a separate room to facilitate Helen”s understanding of her knowledge and began teaching her to communicate by spelling words on her hand. At first she resisted as she did not understand that there was a single word assigned for each object. In fact, when he tried to teach her the word “cup,” Helen became so frustrated that she broke her pot. Keller”s breakthrough in communication came the following month, when he realized that the motions his teacher made in the palm of her hand as she ran cool water over her other hand symbolized the idea of “water.” For a month, he was unable to distinguish the difference between verbs and nouns, but he did understand that there was a relationship between words and objects quickly. As the days went by, he learned to form sentences and spell by the same procedure some words and verbs such as “pin”, “hat”, “stand up”, “sit” and “walk”.

According to Keller, learning new words often revived in her mind a forgotten image of some sensation, and it was around this time that she began to perceive abstract ideas, realizing that the word could also designate a feeling. From the beginning, her educator maintained the rule of addressing her like any other child, with the difference that instead of pronouncing words, she spelled them in her hand. If Helen was unable to find the right words for the expression of her thoughts, her instructor supplied them by answering them herself.

Unlike the deaf, ordinary children learn words by imitation, and conversations in the environment stimulate their intelligence, suggest objects to them, and lead them to spontaneously express their own thoughts. Repetition of words was a fundamental mechanism for Sullivan, who in turn taught Helen with great difficulty to take part in conversations by spelling words on her hands. Years later, Keller would choose her for her “particular understanding, intelligence, and kindly tact.”

Helen”s next challenge was learning to read. After achieving fluent spelling, Sullivan provided her with small cards with raised letters with which she arranged words and formed short sentences. Helen recalled an exercise in her autobiography: “For example, after I had found the little cards with the words ”the doll is in bed,” I would place each word on its object; then I would put the doll in bed with these words beside it…. This constituted a sentence, and I associated in my mind the ideas of the things expressed by the words with the complex act which together they revealed. Later, Helen was taught arithmetic, zoology and botany with the help of her teacher, who taught her to count by means of operations strung together by groups.

Three months after the start of her training, she was able to read and write using the braille system and soon after, to use the stylus. She was so fascinated with reading that at night she used to take books written in Braille and read them under her bed sheets. As a result of the work she did, Helen”s character changed dramatically and she became more civil and friendly. She also learned to read people”s lips by touch and the perception of their movement and vibrations. Anagnos was so amazed by Helen”s progress that he wrote some notes about it. It was thus that her name began to appear in the first pages of his publications.

Secondary education

Sullivan accompanied Keller for forty-nine years until her death. In May 1888, they both moved to the Perkins Institute for the Blind in Boston. There, Helen befriended all the blind children: “It would be impossible for me to express how great was my joy, seeing that they all understood the manual alphabet,” she confessed in her autobiography. She also took advantage of her stay to visit Bunker Hill, where she received her first history lesson.

When she was ten years old, she met the Norwegian deaf-blind Ragnhild Kåta, who had succeeded in learning to speak. Helen was eager to achieve that goal even though her family tried to dissuade her for fear that she would experience deep frustration if she couldn”t achieve it. Despite that, Sullivan led Keller to educator Sarah Fuller, the director of the Horace Mann School for the Deaf, which was dedicated to helping people with a speech disability speak. Fuller provided her with eleven lessons, using a method called Tadoma developed from Graham Bell, in which she pressed her fingers on the trainee”s throat and made a sound, while the trainee felt the position and shape Fuller”s tongue took as he spoke and then imitated it. Later Helen practiced this method independently with Sullivan at her side and finally, she was able to articulate her throat to pronounce words, although her voice at the end of her life continued to be difficult for people to understand.

In 1891, an incident occurred that led to the deterioration of the relationship between Keller and the Perkins Center directors. On November 4 of that year, she sent Anagnos a short story she herself had written called The Frost King as a birthday present. Anagnos was fascinated and decided to publish it in the institution”s magazine. However, he later discovered that the story was exactly the same as one by children”s writer Margaret Canby, so he felt cheated. Apparently, Helen had read the story years before and at the time of writing The Frost King, she unconsciously based herself entirely on it. The accusation of plagiarism was very hurtful to Helen and her teacher Anne, so in 1892 they left Perkins High School. The explanation given was that Helen”s mind went through a process of cryptomnesia, a phenomenon whereby there is an alteration of memory consisting of evoking a memory and not recognizing it as such, so that the idea seems new and personal. This type of phenomenon usually occurs in cases of involuntary plagiarism, where the subject believes to have elaborated something for the first time through an unpublished combination of stimuli but in reality it was an idea recovered as it was stored in memory. According to Sullivan, the Canby story came into Helen”s possession in 1888 during a visit to her friend Sophia Hopkins, who had a copy of it. Mark Twain, who deeply admired Keller, called the story “utterly idiotic and grotesque” in 1903. Fortunately, Helen was forgiven by Perkins decades later and continued to contribute to the institution by donating Braille books to the library and was even present when the Keller-Sullivan building became the home of the school”s Deafblindness Program in 1956.

Subsequently, she stopped attending classes in schools and devoted herself to studying with her educator and private teachers. The success of her education was due not only to her will but also to the improved economic well-being of her family, who could afford to hire teachers and establish her in private schools. In 1894, Helen and Anne assisted John D. Wright and Dr. Thomas Humason in the establishment of a school for the deaf in New York. That year she attended the Wright-Humason School for the Deaf, where she attended until 1896 and then enrolled in the Cambridge Ladies” School in Massachusetts. She was always accompanied by Sullivan, who helped her with homework and book reading, even after her admission to pursue a college career at Radcliffe College.

University studies and belief formation

Keller took preliminary tests to enter Radcliffe College from June 29 to July 3, 1897. Her dream since childhood was to be able to go to college. Although she passed the exams, on the recommendation of her professors she did not join the institution until 1900. Her studies were financed by Standard Oil magnate Henry Huttleston Rogers and his wife Abbie, whom she had met through Mark Twain. At the university, Helen faced new challenges: her training manuals had to be printed in Braille and the classes were crowded, although the professors paid special attention to her, especially in the subjects she had the most difficulty with, algebra and geometry.

Radcliffe had a great influence on the formation of his leftist political ideology. He became interested in workers” rights when he read that the highest percentage of blind people were in the lower strata of the population due to poor working conditions in factories. Later, he became associated with women”s socialist movements and support for the causes of Emmeline Pankhurst. Her Southernist background played a controversial role in her political views even though she always spoke out against slavery; Keller”s father was a “typical” Southernist and claimed until the end of his life that blacks were not people. Her mother had a political outlook more inclined to liberalism.

While still in school, Keller began to write her first works, her autobiography, The Story of My Life, was first published in the Ladies” Home Journal and in 1903 was published in book form. Her autobiography, The Story of My Life, was first published in the Ladies” Home Journal and in 1903, it was published in book form. Most critics praised her work and it was subsequently translated into 50 languages and reprinted several times in English.

In the same year, Sullivan married John Macy, a staunch socialist with whom Keller read the philosophical works of H.G. Wells, which further strengthened her views on that ideology. Later, she turned to the bibliography of Marx and Engels, an experience about which she commented, “It is as if I had been asleep and awakened in a new world.” In 1905, Keller formally joined the Socialist Party, which caused her image to decline dramatically in the United States and she became the object of criticism and ridicule. Journalists in this regard noted that Keller could not objectively analyze politics as a result of her disability.

After college, Keller, Sullivan and Macy moved to a new home in Forest Hills, where he wrote several books, including The World I Live In, Song of the Stone Wall and Out of the Darkness: The World I Live In, Song of the Stone Wall, and Out of the Darkness. In parallel, he corresponded assiduously with the Austrian philosopher and pedagogue Wilhelm Jerusalem, who was one of the first to discover his literary talent. In 1912, he granted the first reportage of his life to Ernest Gruening. Keller decided to join the Industrial Workers of the World, the organization for which he wrote between 1916 and 1918, because his party was “too slow…sinking into the political swamp,” as he told the New York Tribune in an interview.

It is almost, if not impossible, for the party to maintain its revolutionary character as long as it occupies a position under the government…. The government does not support the interests which the Socialist Party is supposed to represent. The task, to be sure, is to unite and organize all the workers on an economic basis, and it is the workers themselves who must secure freedom for themselves, who must grow strong. Nothing can be acquired by political action. That is why I became an IWW.

The relationship between John Macy and Anne Sullivan deteriorated increasingly in later years, and in 1914 they formally separated. However, they did not go through divorce proceedings, and at the time of Macy”s death in 1932, she was still listed as married. Although Keller never married, on one occasion when Sullivan was ill and her new assistant Polly Thomson was on vacation, secretary Peter Fagan began to help her with her daily routine in their absence. Fagan was attracted to Keller to such an extent that he made a pass at her and proposed marriage, which made Keller both uncomfortable and happy. In his autobiography, he recounted, “His love was a radiant sun shining in the face of my helplessness and isolation.” Her family disapproved of the union, believing that a person with a disability could not marry, and society at the time frowned upon a person with a disability marrying, let alone harboring such feelings.

During World War I, Keller opposed the entry of the United States into the war and co-founded with George Kessler the organization Helen Keller International, dedicated to conducting research on vision, health and nutrition. In 1917, she spoke out in favor of the Russian Revolution and Lenin”s policies and in 1918, she participated in the creation of the American Civil Liberties Union, whose purpose is to defend and preserve the individual rights and freedoms guaranteed to each person by the Constitution and laws of the United States. Showing her support for the election campaign of socialist candidate Eugene V. Debs, she sent him correspondence in jail where he was being held on a sedition charge for his opposition to World War I. Before reading Progress and Poverty, Keller was already an established socialist who believed that Georgism was fundamental to finding the right political and economic path. She later claimed to have found “in the philosophy of Henry George a rare beauty and power of inspiration, and a splendid faith in the essential nobility of human nature.”

Postwar years and Sullivan”s death

Keller became a world-renowned speaker and author, and was considered a fervent advocate for people with disabilities. She maintained a pacifist stance throughout her life and wrote about controversial issues such as prostitution and syphilis (one of the causes of blindness). After joining the Socialist Party, she devoted herself to arduous campaigning and writing about the working class, especially from 1909 to 1921. Moreover, he personally knew every U.S. president from Grover Cleveland to John F. Kennedy.

Journalists who had praised her courage and intelligence before she identified herself as a socialist now emphasized her inabilities; an editor of the Brooklyn Eagle wrote that “her mistakes arose from manifest limitations in her development,” to which Keller responded in a letter, “At that time her compliments to me were so generous that I blush to recall them. But now that you supported socialism you remind me and the public that I am blind and deaf and especially responsible for erring. I must have dwarfed in intelligence since I met him….. Oh, ridiculous Brooklyn Eagle! Socially deaf and blind, he defends an intolerable system, a system that is the cause of much of the physical blindness and deafness that we seek to prevent.” Keller at the same time joined organizations recognized for their fight against racism in the United States, including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Keller”s wartime activities attracted many filmmakers. The idea of making a documentary about his life first came from the American writer Francis Trevelyan Miller. The filming took place at the “Brunton” studio under the direction of George Foster Platt and the collaboration of Lawrence Fowler and Arthur Todd. According to Keller, the director had to develop a special system to communicate with her and required the help of Polly Thomson to translate her words to Keller using the manual alphabet. The silent film was titled Deliverance and was released in 1919.

During the 1920s, Keller began traveling around the country lecturing with Sullivan. After 1924, she withdrew almost completely from political activity to devote herself to work with the visually impaired, a task made easier when she joined the American Foundation for the Blind. There, she served not only as a teacher but also as an activist for the rights of blind people, who were often improperly educated and placed in asylums. Her efforts were a major factor in changing these conditions. In 1932, she was appointed vice president of the Royal Institute for the Blind in the United Kingdom.

Anne Sullivan, her companion of 49 years, died in 1936 after a period in a coma, with Keller holding her hand at her side. After her death, she and Thomson moved to Westport, Connecticut. Her death was a severe loss to Keller, who in 1929 had written, “I offer a trembling supplication to the Lord, for if she goes, I am really going to be blind and deaf.”

In 1937, Keller traveled to Japan, where he learned the story of the Hachiko dog. He admitted that he would like to have a specimen of his breed and within a month, he was presented with an Akita Inu named “Kamikaze-go”. When he died of canine distemper shortly thereafter, the Japanese government gave his brother, “Kenzan-go”, as an official gift from the state in July 1938. Keller is credited with introducing and popularizing the akita in the U.S. thanks to these two dogs. In his own words, “I never felt the same tenderness for any other domestic animal. He (the akita) is gentle, sociable and trustworthy.”

Later life

After being appointed Ambassador in International Relations by the American Foundation for Overseas Blind, she began to tour the world. Between 1946 and 1957, Keller visited 35 countries in South America, Europe and Africa, with the stays funded by the Department and the American Foundation for the Blind. In 1948, three years after the atomic bombings, she visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki as part of her anti-war program and was delighted with the warm welcome she received from two million people in these cities. After World War II, she visited soldiers who had lost their sight or hearing during combat to offer them comfort and encouragement. In 1954, she participated in the filming of the documentary Helen Keller in Her Story, directed by Nancy Hamilton and narrated by Katharine Cornell, which won the Oscar for best long documentary.

Along with Polly Thomson, she traveled around the world and raised funds for the blind. In 1957, Thomson suffered a stroke from which she did not recover and died in 1960. After her death, she was replaced by Winnie Corbally, who accompanied her for the rest of her life. In 1961, Keller suffered a series of strokes that forced her to use a wheelchair and reduce her social activities and public appearances. As a result, in 1964 she was unable to attend the ceremony where she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the most prestigious civilian awards in the United States, from President Lyndon Johnson. In 1965, she was inducted into the National Women”s Hall of Fame during the New York World”s Fair.

Keller died at age 87 in her sleep at 3:35 UTC-5 on June 1, 1968, at her “Arcan Ridge” residence in Easton, Connecticut, days after suffering a heart attack. After the funeral was held, she was cremated and her ashes were placed in the Washington National Cathedral next to those of Sullivan and Thomson. Shortly before her death, Keller had exclaimed, “In these dark and silent years, God has been using my life for a purpose I do not know, but one day I will understand and then I will be satisfied.”

Its role in special education

Keller”s training was a major breakthrough in special education, although there were other similar unsung cases such as that of Laura Bridgman. However, Keller”s teaching was the first to be reliably recorded in multiple written works and gave rise to many new special education methods.

The editors of the textbook General Psychology noted the importance of Keller”s case: “She is the only one in her class pushed by a teacher of exceptional talent, a great observer who described the gradual development of her highly gifted pupil, almost a child genius, on whom nature had placed a cruel test, totally shutting down the two key areas of the sensory system.” At the same time, General Psychology related that Sullivan did not initially receive support from the scientific community as it seemed unlikely that her pupil would adapt to teaching so quickly.

Helen Keller became an example of overcoming and courage as well as a symbol of the struggle for the rights of people with disabilities. A journalist from The Journal of Southern History reported that “…. Keller is seen as a national icon symbolizing the triumph of people with disabilities. Motivational speaker and Christian preacher Nick Vujicic, who was born without arms and legs, confessed in his autobiography that Helen Keller played a major role in his life.

Literary work

His first literary work, the autobiography The Story of My Life, was published in 1903 and was widely appreciated by critics and the public, being translated into fifty languages. Today, his autobiography is part of the compulsory literature curriculum in many schools in the U.S. In addition to 14 books, he published more than 475 articles and essays.

After the success of The Story of My Life, Keller felt she could become a writer. However, after the publication of other works, she faced a problem: the public was only interested in reading her story about overcoming her disability, so her stories about her socialist ideology and workers” rights did not generate interest among readers. Her books The World I Live In (1908), Song of the Stone Wall (1910) and her collection of essays Out of the Darkness (1913) met with little success and received virtually no critical acclaim.

When Keller was young, Sullivan introduced her to Bishop and author Philips Brooks, who introduced her to Christianity, after which she said, “I always knew He was there, but I just didn”t know His name. Her spiritual biography, My Religion, which evokes teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg, was published in 1927 and later reissued in 1994 as Light in My Darkness.

One journalist exclaimed that “in expressing his ideas, he provides phrases… and uses words that sound like high-flown poetic metaphors”. Other critics were surprised to find in his stories the expressions “I saw” and “I heard” -which he usually uses to simplify the text. When he used “I heard,” for example, he was referring to the vibrations he perceived from the environment. Psychologist Thomas Kusbort, commenting on the matter, judged the creativity of Keller”s epithets and called them “verbiage”.

Recognitions and honors

In 1971, her name was inducted into the Alabama Women”s Hall of Fame. In 1980, in commemoration of her 100th birthday, U.S. President Jimmy Carter proclaimed June 27, her birthday, as “Helen Keller Day” by executive order.

In 1999, Keller was ranked fifth in a Gallup poll of the world”s most admired men and women of the 20th century. In 2003, Alabama honored his memory by issuing a quarter coin bearing his image as part of a series of 50 commemorative coins to “promote the spread of knowledge of the individual states, their history and geography among the youth of the United States.” and several streets in Zurich, Getafe, Lod, Lisbon and Caen are named after him in tribute.

In 2009, a bronze statue of Helen at age seven next to a hand pump was added to the National Statuary Hall Collection in the U.S. Capitol. The monument depicts the moment in her childhood when she understood her first word, “water,” and is inscribed with a quote of her own in relief: “The most beautiful and best things in the world cannot be seen or touched but are felt in the heart. The house where he spent his childhood, where a festival is held each year in his memory and The Miracle Worker is played, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In the words of a reporter for The Journal of Southern History, “Alabama considers it

Walter Kendrick wrote in The New York Times that “the Helen Keller myth comes in two flavors, sweet and bitter. The sweet, canonical myth portrays her as an earthly angel, saved from the barbarism of darkness and silence by Anne Sullivan, who…taught the deaf and blind Helen that the cold wetness that ran through her hands had a name: water. This Helen was utterly admirable, even heroic. Once she overcame her deafness and blindness, she devoted her life to noble causes.” Kendrick also referred to Dorothy Hermann”s biographical book, Helen Keller: A Life, commenting that “the image they…had created of her, that of a courageous, handicapped genius, had little to do with the real Helen.” Mark Twain, who deeply admired Keller, compared her to Joan of Arc and considered her one of the most relevant people of her time along with Napoleon Bonaparte.

In popular culture

Keller”s life has been brought to the entertainment industry on multiple occasions. She appeared as herself in the silent film Deliverance (1919), which told her story in a melodramatic allegorical style. She was also the main subject of the documentary Helen Keller In Her Story, narrated by Katharine Cornell, and The Story of Helen Keller, produced by Hearst Corporation.

The Miracle Worker was a three-act play presented on Broadway in 1959, directed by William Gibson and inspired by his autobiography, The Story of My Life. The various scenes described the relationship between Keller and Sullivan, and how she turned an uncontrollable and almost wild child into an activist and intellectual celebrity. Director Arthur Penn adapted Gibson”s play and made it into a film in 1962 under the same title, starring Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke, winning two Academy Awards – Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress – and three nominations – Best Costume Design, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. In 1979 and 2000, two television adaptations were made in the United States.

In 1982, Gibson produced a sequel to his play, Monday After the Miracle, which recreated Sullivan and Keller”s life after graduation from Radcliffe College and was adapted to film by Daniel Petrie in 1998, starring Moira Kelly and Roma Downey respectively.

In 1984, a television drama based on Keller”s life, The Miracle Continues, was released, based on the 1979 television adaptation that chronicled her early college years and early adult life. Sanjay Leela Bhansali”s Hindi film Black (2005) was based on much of Keller”s story from childhood to graduation. For the film, lead actress Rani Mukerji had to wear contact lenses to create the impression of blindness and learn sign language and Braille for seven months with the help of deafblind students.


  1. Helen Keller
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