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The Story of My Life: The Restored Edition

The Story of My Life: The Restored Edition

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by Helen Keller
     
 

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THE 100th YEAR ANNIVERSARY EDITION

The Story of My Life, a remarkable account of overcoming the debilitating challenges of being both deaf and blind, has become an international classic, making Helen Keller one of the most well-known, inspirational figures in history. Originally published in 1903, Keller’s fascinating memoir narrates the

Overview

THE 100th YEAR ANNIVERSARY EDITION

The Story of My Life, a remarkable account of overcoming the debilitating challenges of being both deaf and blind, has become an international classic, making Helen Keller one of the most well-known, inspirational figures in history. Originally published in 1903, Keller’s fascinating memoir narrates the events of her life up to her third year at Radcliffe College.

Helen Keller’s story of struggle and achievement is one of unquenchable hope. From tales of her difficult early days, to details of her relationship with her beloved teacher Anne Sullivan, to her impressions of academic life, Keller’s honest, straightforward writing lends insight into an amazing mind. Like the original, this centenary edition of The Story of My Life includes letters Keller wrote to friends throughout her childhood and adolescence that chronicle her intellectual and sensory progression, as well as assistant John Macy’s commentary on her interpretations of her surroundings.

In addition to reprinting Keller’s long-lost original work, this edition contains excerpts from her little-known, deeply personal memoir The World We Live In, which give readers a detailed look into an otherwise unimaginable existence, as well as an excerpt from Out of the Dark, a political commentary Keller wrote during her years as a socialist.

Deftly edited and prefaced by scholar James Berger, this comprehensive anniversary edition celebrates a century of readers’ enthrallment with one of the most powerful figures in history.


From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“The greatest woman of our age.”
Winston Churchill

“Helen Keller is fellow to Caesar, Alexander, Napoleon, Homer, Shakespeare, and the rest of the immortals. . . . She will be as famous a thousand years from now as she is today.”
Mark Twain

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781588362988
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/22/2003
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
507,648
File size:
4 MB

Read an Excerpt

Chapter I

It is with a kind of fear that I begin to write the history of my life. I have, as it were, a superstitious hesitation in lifting the veil that clings about my childhood like a golden mist. The task of writing an autobiography is a difficult one. When I try to classify my earliest impressions, I find that fact and fancy look alike across the years that link the past with the present. The woman paints the child's experiences in her own fantasy. A few impressions stand out vividly from the first years of my life; but "the shadows of the prison-house are on the rest." Besides, many of the joys and sorrows of childhood have lost their poignancy; and many incidents of vital importance in my early education have been forgotten in the excitement of great discoveries. In order, therefore, not to be tedious I shall try to present in a series of sketches only the episodes that seem to me to be the most interesting and important.

I was born on June 27, 1880, in Tuscumbia, a little town of northern Alabama.

The family on my father's side is descended from Caspar Keller, a native of Switzerland, who settled in Maryland. One of my Swiss ancestors was the first teacher of the deaf in Zurich and wrote a book on the subject of their education-rather a singular coincidence; though it is true that there is no king who has not had a slave among his ancestors, and no slave who has not had a king among his.

My grandfather, Caspar Keller's son, "entered" large tracts of land in Alabama and finally settled there. I have been told that once a year he went from Tuscumbia to Philadelphia on horseback to purchase supplies for the plantation, and my aunt has in her possession many of the letters to his family, which give charming and vivid accounts of these trips.

My Grandmother Keller was a daughter of one of Lafayette's aides, Alexander Moore, and granddaughter of Alexander Spotswood, an early Colonial Governor of Virginia. She was also second cousin to Robert E. Lee.

My father, Arthur H. Keller, was a captain in the Confederate Army, and my mother, Kate Adams, was his second wife and many years younger. Her grandfather, Benjamin Adams, married Susanna E. Goodhue, and lived in Newbury, Massachusetts, for many years. Their son, Charles Adams, was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and moved to Helena, Arkansas. When the Civil War broke out, he fought on the side of the South and became a brigadier-general. He married Lucy Helen Everett, who belonged to the same family of Everetts as Edward Everett and Dr. Edward Everett Hale. After the war was over the family moved to Memphis, Tennessee.

I lived, up to the time of the illness that deprived me of my sight and hearing, in a tiny house consisting of a large square room and a small one, in which the servant slept. It is a custom in the South to build a small house near the homestead as an annex to be used on occasion. Such a house my father built after the Civil War, and when he married my mother they went to live in it. It was completely covered with vines, climbing roses and honeysuckles. From the garden it looked like an arbour. The little porch was hidden from view by a screen of yellow roses and Southern smilax. It was the favourite haunt of humming-birds and bees.

The Keller homestead, where the family lived, was a few steps from our little rose-bower. It was called "Ivy Green" because the house and the surrounding trees and fences were covered with beautiful English ivy. Its old-fashioned garden was the paradise of my childhood.

Even in the days before my teacher came, I used to feel along the square stiff boxwood hedges, and, guided by the sense of smell, would find the first violets and lilies. There, too, after a fit of temper, I went to find comfort and to hide my hot face in the cool leaves and grass. What joy it was to lose myself in that garden of flowers, to wander happily from spot to spot, until, coming suddenly upon a beautiful vine, I recognized it by its leaves and blossoms, and knew it was the vine which covered the tumble-down summer-house at the farther end of the garden! Here, also, were trailing clematis, drooping jessamine, and some rare sweet flowers called butterfly lilies, because their fragile petals resemble butterflies' wings. But the roses-they were loveliest of all. Never have I found in the greenhouses of the North such heart-satisfying roses as the climbing roses of my southern home. They used to hang in long festoons from our porch, filling the whole air with their fragrance, untainted by any earthy smell; and in the early morning, washed in the dew, they felt so soft, so pure, I could not help wondering if they did not resemble the asphodels of God's garden.

The beginning of my life was simple and much like every other little life. I came, I saw, I conquered, as the first baby in the family always does. There was the usual amount of discussion as to a name for me. The first baby in the family was not to be lightly named, every one was emphatic about that. My father suggested the name of Mildred Campbell, an ancestor whom he highly esteemed, and he declined to take any further part in the discussion. My mother solved the problem by giving it as her wish that I should be called after her mother, whose maiden name was Helen Everett. But in the excitement of carrying me to church my father lost the name on the way, very naturally, since it was one in which he had declined to have a part. When the minister asked him for it, he just remembered that it had been decided to call me after my grandmother, and he gave her name as Helen Adams.

I am told that while I was still in long dresses I showed many signs of an eager, self-asserting disposition. Everything that I saw other people do I insisted upon imitating. At six months I could pipe out "How d'ye," and one day I attracted every one's attention by saying "Tea, tea, tea" quite plainly. Even after my illness I remembered one of the words I had learned in these early months. It was the word "water," and I continued to make some sound for that word after all other speech was lost. I ceased making the sound "wah-wah" only when I learned to spell the word.

They tell me I walked the day I was a year old. My mother had just taken me out of the bath-tub and was holding me in her lap, when I was suddenly attracted by the flickering shadows of leaves that danced in the sunlight on the smooth floor. I slipped from my mother's lap and almost ran toward them. The impulse gone, I fell down and cried for her to take me up in her arms.

These happy days did not last long. One brief spring, musical with the song of robin and mockingbird, one summer rich in fruit and roses, one autumn of gold and crimson sped by and left their gifts at the feet of an eager, delighted child. Then, in the dreary month of February, came the illness which closed my eyes and ears and plunged me into the unconsciousness of a new-born baby. They called it acute congestion of the stomach and brain.1 The doctor thought I could not live. Early one morning, however, the fever left me as suddenly and mysteriously as it had come. There was great rejoicing in the family that morning, but no one, not even the doctor, knew that I should never see or hear again.

I fancy I still have confused recollections of that illness. I especially remember the tenderness with which my mother tried to soothe me in my waking hours of fret and pain, and the agony and bewilderment with which I awoke after a tossing half sleep, and turned my eyes, so dry and hot, to the wall, away from the once-loved light, which came to me dim and yet more dim each day. But, except for these fleeting memories, if, indeed, they be memories, it all seems very unreal, like a nightmare. Gradually I got used to the silence and darkness that surrounded me and forgot that it had ever been different, until she came-my teacher-who was to set my spirit free. But during the first nineteen months of my life I had caught glimpses of broad, green fields, a luminous sky, trees and flowers which the darkness that followed could not wholly blot out. If we have once seen, "the day is ours, and what the day has shown."

From the Hardcover edition.

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“The greatest woman of our age.”
Winston Churchill

“Helen Keller is fellow to Caesar, Alexander, Napoleon, Homer, Shakespeare, and the rest of the immortals. . . . She will be as famous a thousand years from now as she is today.”
Mark Twain

Meet the Author

Helen Keller, born in 1880, was the first deaf-blind graduate of Radcliffe College. Later, she became a high-profile socialist, and throughout her life she was a strong advocate for the blind and deaf communities, visiting over thirty-five countries and publishing fourteen books about her experiences, which have been translated into more than fifty languages. She died in 1968.

James Berger is associate professor of English at Hofstra University. The author of After the End: Representations of Post-Apocalypse, Berger has been awarded a Charles Phelps Taft Postdoctoral Fellowship by the University of Cincinnati and a research fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is now working on his next book, Those Who Can’t Speak. He lives in Connecticut.

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The Story of My Life 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 238 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the best autobiography I have ever read by far. Helen Keller writes with a simplicity yet elegance that opens your eyes to the world of the deaf and blind. This book has told me that she was the lucky one. She saw things others might never notice. An excellent source of literature for all ages. This will light a fire in your soul.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Here is an individual who faced 3 huge obstacles: blindness, deafness and no ability to speak. Yet this individual wasn¿t deterred in the slightest for her yearning to learn. Reading this book you will see parts of the story of Helen Keller that you¿ve never heard before because she is telling the story. Helen Keller had a very difficult time when she was little. She couldn¿t see or hear therefore she couldn¿t talk which often made her very upset. And so she would throw tantrums quite often when she could not get people to understand her. But that was all over when Helen met her teacher who was a ray of sunshine, a glimmer of hope in a black world of everlasting night. Helen was determined at first but then began to believe it was impossible to ever fit in with anybody else. But her new teacher never gave up and from the moment Helen said her first word ¿water¿, she took off like a rocket, learning to talk, read and write, all the while learning little lessons on science, math and history, ever grateful to her teacher who gave her all hope, and joy in her life, to be able to talk with her mouth instead of her hands. But Helen¿s story did not stop there, she went on to college . She even loved canoeing and sailing. It will never cease to amaze me how someone with such extreme disabilities would go on to live life to it¿s fullest extent and enjoy it 100%. The story of Helen Keller is one that will inspire me to enjoy life even during times of hardship.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
First, I have to say that the quality of the scanned copy of this book was horrendous. There were garbled words in almost every sentence and, sometimes, it was impossible to figure out what it was supposed to be. Also, paragraphs and sentences were broken in the middle with the book title in the middle of a page. Leaving all of that aside, the story was mesmerizing. I cannot fathom how Helen Keller managed to accomplish all that she did with her limitations. But, reading this story, if you didn't know she was blind and deaf, you would think it was written by someone who has no disabilities. Her insights were amazing. After reading it, I cannot imagine how anyone who has not disabilities could dare to complain about anything in their lives. It is worth slogging through the terrible scanned version just to be able to experience the beauty of life through the eyes of who can see more than most sighted people.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Story of my Life was a fantastic book. Helen Keller really showed how hard it was being both blind and deaf. She demonstrated her stuggles, accomplishments, and fears. Helen revealed many sides of her through this book. It makes me sad to think about how she had a tough life, but it makes me happy to see how much she accomplished throughout her life. This book is a very good book, and it should be on everybody's to read list!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Here is an individual who faced 3 huge obstacles: blindness, deafness and no ability to speak. Yet this individual wasn¿t deterred in the slightest for her yearning to learn. Reading this book you will see parts of the story of Helen Keller that you¿ve never heard before because she is telling the story. Helen Keller had a very difficult time when she was little. She couldn¿t see or hear therefore she couldn¿t talk, which often made her very upset. And so she would throw tantrums quite often when she could not get people to understand her. But that was all over when Helen met her teacher 'Anne Sullivan' who was a ray of sunshine, a glimmer of hope in a black world of everlasting night. Helen was determined at first, but then began to believe it was impossible to ever fit in with anybody else. Her new teacher never gave up and from the moment Helen said her first word ¿water¿, she took off like a rocket. She learned to talk, read and write, all the while learning little lessons on science, math, and history. She was always grateful to her teacher, who gave her hope and joy, to be able to talk with her mouth instead of her hands. But Helen¿s story did not stop there. She went on to college, and learned to love canoeing and sailing. It will never cease to amaze me how someone with such extreme disabilities would go on to live life to it¿s fullest extent and enjoy it 100%. The story of Helen Keller is one that will inspire me to enjoy life even during times of hardship.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really thought it was touching and a beautiful story. I used to love to read about helen keller and anne frank. I was almost obsessed with reading and learnig about them. My name is alicia najera nd i hope you enjoy this book as much as i did.
skylar wilson More than 1 year ago
This was a great read. Although the typographical errors made the book more strenuous to read, the story was magnificent in general.
Annika Downey More than 1 year ago
it was a good story......but like alot of free books it dors have some errors.BE SURE TO BOOKMARK because otherwise it pops up at the beginning.still good though.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A pretty good story but the person above me is right. There are a lot of typos.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She was a biography writer whos biography turned into a classic!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Terrible scan.... luved book, but awful scan.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was so touching and sad but I have the 200 page book and I relly love this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good book and enjoyed having to decypher the typos. It made the book interesting though it was annoying at times. I liked having a challenge, but if you aren't up to it, I wouldn't recommend it to you. In my opinion, I enjoyed the story and Helen's way of writing! Beautifully written!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Is this book good
MrsLeahC More than 1 year ago
While I am sure that this book is wonderful, I couldn't get past all of the typos. I am going to find a version that is easier to read! Just an example of free not working out on nook!
Leticia Sullivant More than 1 year ago
This is a beautifully written autobiography. However, there are too many distracting typographical errors. I didn't bother to get past the first chapter. Disappointing!
Tara21TC More than 1 year ago
I've always looked up to Helen Keller and thought she was a great woman, but I've never really known much about her. I always thought that she was born deaf and blind. I never knew that it was an illness that took these precious gifts away from her when she was only a year and seven months. All I knew was that she was a lady who-for some reason-was deaf and blind but still managed to communicate thanks to her teacher Anne Sullivan, but that is all. Everything else about this amazing lady and all her accomplishments I had absolutely no idea about. As I read this book, it opened my eyes to all the amazing things she accomplished that some people with out any disabilities at all fail to achieve. Time and time again I am amazed at the deepness of Helen Keller's thoughts and feelings and also the way she expresses herself. Every time I sit down to read her book I am amazed by her writing. Her comparisons and metaphors rival that of any other writer. The way she almost puts emotion into the person reading the book just because that emotion is felt so deeply by her and described so well in her writing, it's phenomenal. I'll just give one or two examples of her writing that are one of my favorites mostly because I did not feel the same way about the subject as she did but now I do because of her phenomenal word choice and metaphor. "Every one who wishes to gain true knowledge must climb the Hill Difficulty alone, and since there is no royal road to the summit, I must zigzag it in my own way. I slip back many times, I fall, I stand still, I run against the edge of hidden obstacles, I lose my temper and find it again and keep it better. I trudge on, I gain a little, I feel encouraged, I get more eager and climb higher and begin to see the widening horizon. Every struggle is a victory. One more effort and I reach the luminous cloud, the blue depths of the sky, the uplands of my desire" (Helen Keller 75). Just the way she talks about her desire and struggles to learn and grow makes me want to grow and experience that same sense of satisfaction that comes after all the battles have been won and opposition conquered. She also goes on to say that, "great poetry . . . needs no other interpreter than a responsive heart . . . it is not necessary that one should be able to define every word and give it its practical parts and its grammatical position in the sentence in order to understand and appreciate a fine poem" (Helen Keller 83). This different view opened up a new way of looking at reading for me, one where I might not understand everything I read but none the less enjoy and love what I'm reading. There have been many times where I have tried to read a book but not know what all the words meant and not understand it as deeply as maybe a college professor would but that should not keep me from enjoying the book. If a book is a good book and worth reading you will be able to tell what the writer was trying to say not only through the text on the page, but through the feeling and thoughts that were put into writing that book. If no feeling was there when written then that book is probably not worth reading. I think that this is what Helen Keller was trying to say, and this book is the perfect definition of a book full of thought and feeling.very time I pick this book up I spend more time pondering what she is saying than reading because this book is so deep and so full of ideas that it's impossible not to think about them. This book inspir
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book tells all.Helen Keller accomplished many things she even went to collgege after being blind and death i dont understand how she did it.Although till this day it is still very hard for me to understnad this book because of the fact that she not like all.This book was very suspenseful i wnated to know how she did it when did it.I recomend this book to all ages.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Story of My Life was a fantastic novel. Helen Keller really showed how hard it was being both blind and deaf. Her teacher Anne Sullivan helped her overcome all of her disabilities. She also demonstrated her struggles, accomplishments, and fears. Helen revealed many sides of herself through this book. It makes me sad to think about how she had a tough life, but it makes me happy to see how much she accomplished throughout her life. This book is a very good novel, and it should be on everybody's to read list!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Helen Keller overcame feats that seemed overwhelming to the average person,not withstanding disabilities. Beautifully written. A must read!
Anonymous 5 months ago
The auther was blind so it would be confusin anyways
B Batres 6 months ago
I am a high school sophomore and I chose this book for a research.  I recommend this book because it lets you get a better look into Helen’s life and get to know her better.  It wasn’t a long book and it also had letters she had written to people in the past and side notes from other people.  I usually can’t keep focus when reading a book but I couldn’t put this book down.  It was so interesting because not only did she tell her story of how she came over her life obstacles, but we could also see what she was thinking at the moment and how well she wrote in her letters.  It was an easy read, but one thing I didn’t like was that some stories she told I didn’t find relevant.  Other then that, I recommend this book to whoever wants to be inspired.  It really makes you appreciate what you have and makes you not want to take what you have for granted. 
Anonymous 6 months ago
I am a high school sophomore and I chose The Story of My Life: The Restored Edition as my primary source for my research project on Helen Keller. This book gave me so much new insight and also great information about Helen's early life as a young child and as an adventurous college student. Before reading and researching about her, I knew very little of Helen Keller. I was only aware about her condition as a blind, deaf, and mute person. This autobiography was very interesting, descriptive, and an easy read. The chapter were short and straight to the point. It was very useful when I began answering questions for my project. However, at times I did have to rely on some websites to complete a couple of answers. I loved how Helen viewed and described every one of her surroundings. Also, I enjoyed learning about her progression of communication. I recommend this book for those looking for some motivation and inspiration. She inspires me to always try my best and to never quit no matter what condition you may be in. I would definitely love to reread it in my spare time. Helen Keller's story is quite unforgettable and provides various life lessons that we can use within our own!
Anonymous 6 months ago
I am a high school sophomore and I chose The Story of My Life: The Restored Edition as my primary source for my research project on Helen Keller. This book gave me so much new insight and also great information about Helen's early life as a young child and as an adventurous college student. Before reading and researching about her, I knew very little of Helen. I was only aware of her condition as a blind, deaf, and mute person. This autobiography was very interesting, descriptive, and an easy read. It was very useful when answering many questions. However, at times I did have to rely on some websites to complete some answers. I loved how Helen viewed and described every one of her surroundings. Also, I enjoyed learning about her progression of communication. I recommend this book for those looking for some motivation and inspiration. She inspires me to always try my best and to never quit no matter what condition you are in. Helen Keller's story unforgettable and provides many life lessons that we can use within our own!
Anonymous 6 months ago
I am a high school sophomore and I chose The Story of My Life: The Restored Edition as my primary source for my research project on Helen Keller. This book gave me so much new insight and also great information about Helen's early life as a young child and as an adventurous college student. Before reading and researching about her, I knew very little of Helen. I was only aware of her condition as a blind, deaf, and mute person. This autobiography was very interesting, descriptive, and an easy read. It was very useful when answering many questions. I loved how Helen viewed and described every one of her surroundings. Also, I enjoyed learning about her progression of communication. I recommend this book for those looking for some motivation and inspiration. Helen Keller's story unforgettable and provides many life lessons that we can use within our own!