Helen Keller was a known author and political activist. She was blind-deaf but was highly influential. She used her literary voice to influence Americans and other people worldwide. She particularly had a soft spot for underdogs.
She consistently wrote to encourage them. Aside from these, she was also concerned with the human rights of workers. She also wrote about women and power often.
Early Days and Family Life
Helen Adams Keller was born in Alabama on June 27, 1880. She was born a healthy girl. But before she turned two, she suddenly lost her sight and hearing. Her parents, Colonel Alexander Keller and Kate Adams Keller, were not able to find out the illness that stroke their daughter.
Growing up as a young kid, Helen was known to be restless and wild. She often threw tantrums and those around her found it difficult to deal with her temper. She was said to have caused headache to the elderly because she was spoiled. She liked having things her way. She was rough and unruly as a child. However, she met someone in her childhood days who changed her life for the better.
Young Helen and Her Mentor
Keller met Anne Sullivan when she was seven. Sullivan was twenty and is an alumnus of the Perkins School for the Blind in Massachusetts. Like her student Keller, Sullivan was also suffering from her vision then.
Because Sullivan hailed from a family of poor immigrants, they did not have the financial capacity to pay for quality healthcare. She had undergone many “cheap” surgeries that cost her many complications. Fortunately, in the end, she was able to regain her sight partially.
Sullivan saw Keller’s potential and knew that she was a very smart child. Naturally, Sullivan wanted to cultivate a positive attitude first before anything else. She knew exactly how to tame the young Keller. As a teacher, Sullivan did not deprive Keller of her freedom as a youth. Rather, she found a way to connect with her and get her to understand the importance of obedience.
The Sullivan Connection
Sullivan first taught Keller by scribbling words on her hand. Their first “activity” was with a doll Sullivan personally brought for Keller. She then spelled out the word “doll” on Helen’s palm. This has become her signature style of teaching.
Keller adapted positively and enthusiastically to this unique method. As a teacher, Sullivan wanted Keller to connect with things rather than just knowing them. Keller was deeply moved by this and since then felt something special towards letters and words.
Blindness did not stop Keller from appreciating the things she could not see. Sullivan took her to the Horace Mann School for the Deaf in Boston. However, as a student, she was disappointed in herself. She thought that her speaking voice was rather inaudible despite her efforts.
Education and Calling
Keller knew the importance of education at such a young age. This was mostly because of the influence of Sullivan. However, the initiative was all hers. She was thinking of nothing but attending college. She was able to do so in 1898.
The Cambridge School for Young Ladies took her in. Eventually, she entered Radcliffe College and obtained a degree in Bachelor of Arts in 1904. During her stay at Radcliffe, she began to take interest in writing.
She practiced translating her deep thoughts into words. It was her calling. It has been with her ever since the day she had the word “doll” spelled on her palm. She knew then that it was a gift she should truly nurture. She also graduated as a cum laude. She was the first deaf-blind person in history to get a college degree.
The Force Behind the Pen
Keller has always been upfront about what she wants and what she stands for. She knew she wanted to learn many words, so she asked. She knew she wanted to study, so she did. Another thing she stood up for was the truth. She made sure every word she wrote conveyed the truth. In addition, she wanted to encourage others to practice speaking it, too.
For forty long years, Keller worked with the American Foundation for the Blind. It was through the foundation that she got her voice to be heard across the globe. Her priority was to provide help to people like her, people whose vision were impaired.
Her consistent effort paid off and brought a lot of success to the foundation. This success translated into tangible sources of help for the blind. Through her massive effort, rehabilitation centers were built. Statewide commissions were also created and given proper attention. Education for blind people became more accessible and of high quality.
She became the ambassador of the Permanent Blind War Relief Fund in 1915. The organization is currently known as Helen Keller International. She toured the world and met with influential global leaders. Her most famous work was her autobiography called “The Story of My Life”.
Her piece still continues to inspire people and she is still admired by many. Her autobiography has reached over sixty different nationalities through translations. She also wrote a book about Sullivan called “Teacher, Anne Sullivan Macy”. She wrote about six other books. She was also a contributor to local newspapers and magazines.
Here are several of Helen Keller’s most memorable quotes:
Helen Keller Quotes
“What a blind person needs is not a teacher but another self.” – Helen Keller
“We could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joy in the world.” – Helen Keller
“Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” – Helen Keller
“Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light.” – Helen Keller
“No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.” – Helen Keller
“Love is like a beautiful flower which I may not touch, but whose fragrance makes the garden a place of delight just the same.” – Helen Keller
“God himself is not secure, having given man dominion over his work.” – Helen Keller
“While they were saying among themselves it cannot be done, it was done.” – Helen Keller
“It is hard to interest those who have everything in those who have nothing.” – Helen Keller
“Life is an exciting business, and most exciting when it is lived for others.” – Helen Keller
“There is no king who has not had a slave among his ancestors, and no slave who has not had a king among his.” – Helen Keller
“When we do the best that we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or in the life of another.” – Helen Keller
“What I am looking for is not out there, it is in me.” – Helen Keller
“I can see, and that is why I can be happy, in what you call the dark, but which to me is golden. I can see a God-made world, not a manmade world.” – Helen Keller
“Knowledge is love and light and vision.” – Helen Keller
“Of all the senses, sight must be the most delightful.” – Helen Keller
“Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content.” – Helen Keller
“People do not like to think. If one thinks, one must reach conclusions. Conclusions are not always pleasant.” – Helen Keller
“The welfare of each is bound up in the welfare of all.” – Helen Keller
“No matter how dull, or how mean, or how wise a man is, he feels that happiness is his indisputable right.” – Helen Keller
“Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.” – Helen Keller
“College isn’t the place to go for ideas.” – Helen Keller
“One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.” “Literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourse of my book-friends. They talk to me without embarrassment or awkwardness.” – Helen Keller
“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” – Helen Keller
“Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.” – Helen Keller
“Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.” – Helen Keller
“No one has a right to consume happiness without producing it.” – Helen Keller
“Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.” – Helen Keller
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through the experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” – Helen Keller
“Life is either a great adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller
“Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye.” – Helen Keller
“I do not want the peace which passeth understanding, I want the understanding which bringeth peace.” – Helen Keller
“Self-pity is our worst enemy and if we yield to it, we can never do anything wise in this world.” – Helen Keller
“Toleration is the greatest gift of the mind; it requires the same effort of the brain that it takes to balance oneself on a bicycle.” – Helen Keller
“What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” –Helen Keller
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” – Helen Keller
“We can do anything we want to if we stick to it long enough.” – Helen Keller
“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.” – Helen Keller
“My share of the work may be limited, but the fact that it is work makes it precious.” – Helen Keller
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller
“When one door closes, another opens. But we often look so regretfully upon the closed door that we don’t see the one that has opened for us.” – Helen Keller
“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.”
“Instead of comparing our lot with that of those who are more fortunate than we are, we should compare it with the lot of the great majority of our fellow men. It then appears that we are among the privileged.” – Helen Keller
“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” – Helen Keller
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller
“The highest result of education is tolerance.” – Helen Keller
“All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming.” – Helen Keller
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” – Helen Keller
“Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all – the apathy of human beings.” – Helen Keller
“So long as the memory of certain beloved friends lives in my heart, I shall say that life is good.” – Helen Keller
“Until the great mass of the people shall be filled with the sense of responsibility for each other’s welfare, social justice can never be attained.” – Helen Keller
“Once I knew only darkness and stillness… my life was without past or future… but a little word from the fingers of another fell into my hand that clutched at emptiness, and my heart leaped to the rapture of living.” – Helen Keller
“The marvelous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome. The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse.” – Helen Keller
“As the eagle was killed by the arrow winged with his own feather, so the hand of the world is wounded by its own skill.” – Helen Keller
“I seldom think about my limitations, and they never make me sad. Perhaps there is just a touch of yearning at times; but it is vague, like a breeze among flowers.” – Helen Keller
“I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.” – Helen Keller
“To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug.” – Helen Keller
“Unless we form the habit of going to the Bible in bright moments as well as in trouble, we cannot fully respond to its consolations because we lack equilibrium between light and darkness.” – Helen Keller
“The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of tiny pushes of each honest worker.” – Helen Keller
“As selfishness and complaint pervert the mind, so love with its joy clears and sharpens the vision.” – Helen Keller