Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan: Lifelong Companions

September 2, 2015 by  
Filed under Education

By Samuel Phineas Upham

The story of Helen Keller really begins with Anne Sullivan. Nicknamed “Annie” from a young age, Anne grew up in a poor family. After her mother died, and her father abandoned the family, Anne and her brother were sent to a local almshouse in Massachusetts. When she was eight years old, she contracted trachoma. The disease brought painful infections and partial blindness to the young girl, but surgeries helped to mitigate the symptoms for a time.

Unfortunately for Anne, there was no cure. She remained blind for life. She hoped for prospects outside of being a housemaid, and she found those prospects in the Perkins School for the Blind in Boston. She completed her graduate degree at the age of 20, and tried to pursue a career in education.

At the same time, Arthur Keller was searching for someone to tutor his young daughter Helen. Helen was born both deaf and blind, leaving her almost completely language deficient. With Anne’s help, Helen was able to break through that barrier of language and learn to communicate with the world around her.

By age 11, Helen had already written a story. By 22, she had written an autobiography for herself with help from Anne Sullivan. She gave readers a glimpse of her life in the 1908 story The World I Live In, and dabbled a bit in socialism and political activism in 1913.

Keller died just a few weeks shy of her eighty-eighth birthday. Keller’s ashes were placed next to her lifelong companion, Anne Sullivan’s ashes at the Washington National Cathedral.

About the Author: Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Samuel Phineas Upham website or Facebook.

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