I found out about a new hero – Helen Keller

MTE5NTU2MzE2MjczNDc3MTMxNot at all abnormal but I picked up a secondhand book at a charity shop for 50p that has had an impact on me. ‘The Story of My Life’ by Helen Keller was written in 1903 and is effectively the first part of her autobiography detailing her life until her early twenties. I knew a little about Helen’s life and actually bought the book for mum to read however she decided it wasn’t for her – her normal books being murder mysteries (‘but nothing too spicy’). I had just finished a difficult sci-fi book and needed something very different to read. Helen’s is a short book but pretty amazing and very inspirational. She was born in Alabama in 1880 but nineteen months later got seriously ill and recovered but with the loss of her sight and hearing.

images (3)Deaf and blind, her life only started to recover when Annie Sullivan became her teacher and guide at the age of seven. Annie taught the words connected to the feeling of objects and, ultimately, Helen learnt to speak and to ‘hear’ through people’s lip movements. No matter how shit life gets, always think how hard it would be for someone without sight and hearing; being reliant only on smell, taste and touch to make contact with the outside world. I can’t imagine the difficulty of trying to make sense of such a world but Helen did it and went on to get a degree. Indeed her writing style is luscious and she clearly got incredibly excited just by the process of reading and learning. And amazing to realise the amount of subjects she studied including French, German, Latin, mathematics and algebra.

images (4)The ever wonderful Wikipedia told me more of her life and fascinatingly she went onto also become a social radical linked with a strong faith / spiritual aspect and this included her helping to set up the American Civil Liberties Union. Also disgraceful at the same time to see how discrimination based on her disability was used against her as she became more political and campaigning.

Amazing where one 50p book can take you.

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