Helen Keller’s letters are important, not only as a supplementary story of her life, but as a demonstration of her growth in thought and expression—the growth which in itself has made her distinguished.

These letters are, however, not merely remarkable as the productions of a deaf and blind girl, to be read with wonder and curiosity; they are good letters almost from the first. The best passages are those in which she talks about herself, and gives her world in terms of her experience of it. Her views on the precession of the equinoxes are not important, but most important are her accounts of what speech meant to her, of how she felt the statues, the dogs, the chickens at the poultry show, and how she stood in the aisle of St. Bartholomew’s and felt the organ rumble. Those are passages of which one would ask for more. The reason they are comparatively few is that all her life she has been trying to be “like other people,” and so she too often describes things not as they appear to her, but as they appear to one with eyes and ears.

One cause for the excellence of her letters is the great number of them. They are the exercises which have trained her to write. She has lived at different times in different parts of the country, and so has been separated from most of her friends and relatives. Of her friends, many have been distinguished people, to whom—not often, I think, at the sacrifice of spontaneity—she has felt it necessary to write well. To them and to a few friends with whom she is in closest sympathy she writes with intimate frankness whatever she is thinking about. Her naive retelling of a child’s tale she has heard, like the story of “Little Jakey,” which she rehearses for Dr. Holmes and Bishop Brooks, is charming and her grave paraphrase of the day’s lesson in geography or botany, her parrot-like repetition of what she has heard, and her conscious display of new words, are delightful and instructive; for they show not only what she was learning, but how, by putting it all into letters, she made the new knowledge and the new words her own.

So these selections from Miss Keller’s correspondence are made with two purposes—to show her development and to preserve the most entertaining and significant passages from several hundred letters. Many of those written before 1892 were published in the reports of the Perkins Institution for the Blind. All letters up to that year are printed intact, for it is legitimate to be interested in the degree of skill the child showed in writing, even to details of punctuation; so it is well to preserve a literal integrity of reproduction. From the letters after the year 1892 I have culled in the spirit of one making an anthology, choosing the passages best in style and most important from the point of view of biography. Where I have been able to collate the original letters I have preserved everything as Miss Keller wrote it, punctuation, spelling, and all. I have done nothing but select and cut.

The letters are arranged in chronological order. One or two letters from Bishop Brooks, Dr. Holmes, and Whittier are put immediately after the letters to which they are replies. Except for two or three important letters of 1901, these selections cease with the year 1900. In that year Miss Keller entered college. Now that she is a grown woman, her mature letters should be judged like those of any other person, and it seems best that no more of her correspondence be published unless she should become distinguished beyond the fact that she is the only well-educated deaf and blind person in the world.


Letters (1887-1901)

Miss Sullivan began to teach Helen Keller on March 3rd, 1887.
Three months and a half after the first word was spelled into her
hand, she wrote in pencil this letter

[Tuscumbia, Alabama, June 17, 1887.]

helen write anna george will give helen apple simpson will shoot
bird jack will give helen stick of candy doctor will give mildred
medicine mother will make mildred new dress
[No signature]

Twenty-five days later, while she was on a short visit away from
home, she wrote to her mother. Two words are almost illegible,
and the angular print slants in every direction.

[Huntsville, Alabama, July 12, 1887.]

Helen will write mother letter papa did give helen medicine
mildred will sit in swing mildred did kiss helen teacher did give
helen peach george is sick in bed george arm is hurt anna did
give helen lemonade dog did stand up.

conductor did punch ticket papa did give helen drink of water in

carlotta did give helen flowers anna will buy helen pretty new
hat helen will hug and kiss mother helen will come home
grandmother does love helen

[No signature.]

By the following September Helen shows improvement in fulness of
construction and more extended relations of thought.

[Tuscumbia, September, 1887.]

Helen will write little blind girls a letter Helen and teacher
will come to see little blind girls Helen and teacher will go in
steam car to boston Helen and blind girls will have fun blind
girls can talk on fingers Helen will see Mr anagnos Mr anagnos
will love and kiss Helen Helen will go to school with blind girls
Helen can read and count and spell and write like blind girls
mildred will not go to boston Mildred does cry prince and jumbo
will go to boston papa does shoot ducks with gun and ducks do
fall in water and jumbo and mamie do swim in water and bring
ducks out in mouth to papa Helen does play with dogs Helen does
ride on horseback with teacher Helen does give handee grass in
hand teacher does whip handee to go fast Helen is blind Helen
will put letter in envelope for blind girls good-by

A few weeks later her style is more nearly correct and freer in
movement. She improves in idiom, although she still omits
articles and uses the “did” construction for the simple past.
This is an idiom common among children.

[Tuscumbia, October 24, 1887.]

dear little blind girls

I will write you a letter I thank you for pretty desk I did write
to mother in memphis on it mother and mildred came home wednesday
mother brought me a pretty new dress and hat papa did go to
huntsville he brought me apples and candy I and teacher will come
to boston and see you nancy is my doll she does cry I do rock
nancy to sleep mildred is sick doctor will give her medicine to
make her well. I and teacher did go to church sunday mr. lane did
read in book and talk Lady did play organ. I did give man money
in basket. I will be good girl and teacher will curl my hair
lovely. I will hug and kiss little blind girls mr. anagnos will
come to see me.


[Tuscumbia, November, 1887.]

dear mr. anagnos I will write you a letter. I and teacher did
have pictures. teacher will send it to you. photographer does
make pictures. carpenter does build new houses. gardener does dig
and hoe ground and plant vegetables. my doll nancy is sleeping.
she is sick. mildred is well uncle frank has gone hunting deer.
we will have venison for breakfast when he comes home. I did ride
in wheel barrow and teacher did push it. simpson did give me
popcorn and walnuts. cousin rosa has gone to see her mother.
people do go to church sunday. I did read in my book about fox
and box. fox can sit in the box. I do like to read in my book.
you do love me. I do love you.


[Tuscumbia, November, 1887.]

Dear Mr. Bell.
I am glad to write you a letter, Father will send you picture. I
and Father and aunt did go to see you in Washington. I did play
with your watch. I do love you. I saw doctor in Washington. He
looked at my eyes. I can read stories in my book. I can write and
spell and count. good girl. My sister can walk and run. We do
have fun with Jumbo. Prince is not good dog. He can not get
birds. Rat did kill baby pigeons. I am sorry. Rat does not know
wrong. I and mother and teacher will go to Boston in June. I will
see little blind girls. Nancy will go with me. She is a good
doll. Father will buy me lovely new watch. Cousin Anna gave me a
pretty doll. Her name is Allie.


By the beginning of the next year her idioms are firmer. More
adjectives appear, including adjectives of colour. Although she
can have no sensuous knowledge of colour, she can use the words,
as we use most of our vocabulary, intellectually, with truth, not
to impression, but to fact. This letter is to a school-mate at
the Perkins Institution.

Tuscumbia, Ala. Jan. 2nd 1888.

Dear Sarah
I am happy to write to you this morning. I hope Mr. Anagnos is
coming to see me soon. I will go to Boston in June and I will buy
father gloves, and James nice collar, and Simpson cuffs. I saw
Miss Betty and her scholars. They had a pretty Christmas-tree,
and there were many pretty presents on it for little children. I
had a mug, and little bird and candy. I had many lovely things
for Christmas. Aunt gave me a trunk for Nancy and clothes. I went
to party with teacher and mother. We did dance and play and eat
nuts and candy and cakes and oranges and I did have fun with
little boys and girls. Mrs. Hopkins did send me lovely ring, I do
love her and little blind girls.

Men and boys do make carpets in mills. Wool grows on sheep. Men
do cut sheep’s wool off with large shears, and send it to the
mill. Men and women do make wool cloth in mills.

Cotton grows on large stalks in fields. Men and boys and girls
and women do pick cotton. We do make thread and cotton dresses of
cotton. Cotton has pretty white and red flowers on it. Teacher
did tear her dress. Mildred does cry. I will nurse Nancy. Mother
will buy me lovely new aprons and dress to take to Boston. I went
to Knoxville with father and aunt. Bessie is weak and little.
Mrs. Thompson’s chickens killed Leila’s chickens. Eva does sleep
in my bed. I do love good girls.


The next two letters mention her visit in January to her
relatives in Memphis, Tennessee. She was taken to the cotton
exchange. When she felt the maps and blackboards she asked, “Do
men go to school?” She wrote on the blackboard the names of all
the gentlemen present. While at Memphis she went over one of the
large Mississippi steamers.

Tuscumbia, Alabama, February 15th 1888.

Dear Mr. Hale,
I am happy to write you a letter this morning. Teacher told me
about kind gentleman I shall be glad to read pretty story I do
read stories in my book about tigers and lions and sheep.

I am coming to Boston in June to see little blind girls and I
will come to see you. I went to Memphis to see grandmother and
Aunt Nannie. Teacher bought me lovely new dress and cap and
aprons. Little Natalie is a very weak and small baby. Father took
us to see steamboat. It was on a large river. Boat is like house.
Mildred is a good baby. I do love to play with little sister.
Nancy was not a good child when I went to Memphis. She did cry
loud. I will not write more to-day. I am tired.


Tuscumbia, Ala., Feb. 24th, 1888.

My dear Mr. Anagnos,—I am glad to write you a letter in Braille.
This morning Lucien Thompson sent me a beautiful bouquet of
violets and crocuses and jonquils. Sunday Adeline Moses brought
me a lovely doll. It came from New York. Her name is Adeline
Keller. She can shut her eyes and bend her arms and sit down and
stand up straight. She has on a pretty red dress. She is Nancy’s
sister and I am their mother. Allie is their cousin. Nancy was a
bad child when I went to Memphis she cried loud, I whipped her
with a stick.

Mildred does feed little chickens with crumbs. I love to play
with little sister.

Teacher and I went to Memphis to see aunt Nannie and grandmother.
Louise is aunt Nannie’s child. Teacher bought me a lovely new
dress and gloves and stockings and collars and grandmother made
me warm flannels, and aunt Nannie made me aprons. Lady made me a
pretty cap. I went to see Robert and Mr. Graves and Mrs. Graves
and little Natalie, and Mr. Farris and Mr. Mayo and Mary and
everyone. I do love Robert and teacher. She does not want me to
write more today. I feel tired.

I found box of candy in Mr. Grave’s pocket. Father took us to see
steam boat it is like house. Boat was on very large river. Yates
plowed yard today to plant grass. Mule pulled plow. Mother will
make garden of vegetables. Father will plant melons and peas and

Cousin Bell will come to see us Saturday. Mother will make
ice-cream for dinner, we will have ice-cream and cake for dinner.
Lucien Thompson is sick. I am sorry for him.

Teacher and I went to walk in the yard, and I learned about how
flowers and trees grow. Sun rises in the east and sets in the
west. Sheffield is north and Tuscumbia is south. We will go to
Boston in June. I will have fun with little blind girls.

Good bye

“Uncle Morrie” of the next letter is Mr. Morrison Heady, of
Normandy, Kentucky, who lost his sight and hearing when he was a
boy. He is the author of some commendable verses.

Tuscumbia, Ala., March 1st 1888.

My dear uncle Morrie,—I am happy to write you a letter, I do
love you, and I will hug and kiss you when I see you.

Mr. Anagnos is coming to see me Monday. I do love to run and hop
and skip with Robert in bright warm sun. I do know little girl in
Lexington Ky. her name is Katherine Hobson.

I am going to Boston in June with mother and teacher, I will have
fun with little blind girls, and Mr. Hale will send me pretty
story. I do read stories in my book about lions and tigers and

Mildred will not go to Boston, she does cry. I love to play with
little sister, she is weak and small baby. Eva is better.

Yates killed ants, ants stung Yates. Yates is digging in garden.
Mr. Anagnos did see oranges, they look like golden apples.

Robert will come to see me Sunday when sun shines and I will have
fun with him. My cousin Frank lives in Louisville. I will come to
Memphis again to see Mr. Farris and Mrs. Graves and Mr. Mayo and
Mr. Graves. Natalie is a good girl and does not cry, and she will
be big and Mrs. Graves is making short dresses for her. Natalie
has a little carriage. Mr. Mayo has been to Duck Hill and he
brought sweet flowers home.

With much love and a kiss

In this account of the picnic we get an illuminating glimpse of
Miss Sullivan’s skill in teaching her pupil during play hours.
This was a day when the child’s vocabulary grew.

Tuscumbia, Ala., May 3rd 1888.

Dear Mr. Anagnos.—I am glad to write to you this morning,
because I love you very much. I was very happy to receive pretty
book and nice candy and two letters from you. I will come to see
you soon and will ask you many questions about countries and you
will love good child.

Mother is making me pretty new dresses to wear in Boston and I
will look lovely to see little girls and boys and you. Friday
teacher and I went to a picnic with little children. We played
games and ate dinner under the trees, and we found ferns and wild
flowers. I walked in the woods and learned names of many trees.
There are poplar and cedar and pine and oak and ash and hickory
and maple trees. They make a pleasant shade and the little birds
love to swing to and fro and sing sweetly up in the trees.
Rabbits hop and squirrels run and ugly snakes do crawl in the
woods. Geraniums and roses jasamines and japonicas are cultivated
flowers. I help mother and teacher water them every night before

Cousin Arthur made me a swing in the ash tree. Aunt Ev. has gone
to Memphis. Uncle Frank is here. He is picking strawberries for
dinner. Nancy is sick again, new teeth do make her ill. Adeline
is well and she can go to Cincinnati Monday with me. Aunt Ev.
will send me a boy doll, Harry will be Nancy’s and Adeline’s
brother. Wee sister is a good girl. I am tired now and I do want
to go down stairs. I send many kisses and hugs with letter.

Your darling child

Toward the end of May Mrs. Keller, Helen, and Miss Sullivan
started for Boston. On the way they spent a few days in
Washington, where they saw Dr. Alexander Graham Bell and called
on President Cleveland. On May 26th they arrived in Boston and
went to the Perkins Institution; here Helen met the little blind
girls with whom she had corresponded the year before.

Early in July she went to Brewster, Massachusetts, and spent the
rest of the summer. Here occurred her first encounter with the
sea, of which she has since written.

So. Boston, Mass. Sept. 1888

My dear Miss Moore
Are you very glad to receive a nice letter from your darling
little friend? I love you very dearly because you are my friend.
My precious little sister is quite well now. She likes to sit in
my little rocking-chair and put her kitty to sleep. Would you
like to see darling little Mildred? She is a very pretty baby.
Her eyes are very big and blue, and her cheeks are soft and round
and rosy and her hair is very bright and golden. She is very good
and sweet when she does not cry loud. Next summer Mildred will go
out in the garden with me and pick the big sweet strawberries and
then she will be very happy. I hope she will not eat too many of
the delicious fruit for they will make her very ill.

Sometime will you please come to Alabama and visit me? My uncle
James is going to buy me a very gentle pony and a pretty cart and
I shall be very happy to take you and Harry to ride. I hope Harry
will not be afraid of my pony. I think my father will buy me a
beautiful little brother some day. I shall be very gentle and
patient to my new little brother. When I visit many strange
countries my brother and Mildred will stay with grandmother
because they will be too small to see a great many people and I
think they would cry loud on the great rough ocean.

When Capt. Baker gets well he will take me in his big ship to
Africa. Then I shall see lions and tigers and monkeys. I will get
a baby lion and a white monkey and a mild bear to bring home. I
had a very pleasant time at Brewster. I went in bathing almost
every day and Carrie and Frank and little Helen and I had fun. We
splashed and jumped and waded in the deep water. I am not afraid
to float now. Can Harry float and swim? We came to Boston last
Thursday, and Mr. Anagnos was delighted to see me, and he hugged
and kissed me. The little girls are coming back to school next

Will you please tell Harry to write me a very long letter soon?
When you come to Tuscumbia to see me I hope my father will have
many sweet apples and juicy peaches and fine pears and delicious
grapes and large water melons.

I hope you think about me and love me because I am a good little

With much love and two kisses
From your little friend

In this account of a visit to some friends, Helen’s thought is
much what one would expect from an ordinary child of eight,
except perhaps her naive satisfaction in the boldness of the
young gentlemen.

So. Boston, Mass, Sept. 24th 1888.

My dear Mother,
I think you will be very glad to know all about my visit to West
Newton. Teacher and I had a lovely time with many kind friends.
West Newton is not far from Boston and we went there in the steam
cars very quickly.

Mrs. Freeman and Carrie and Ethel and Frank and Helen came to
station to meet us in a huge carriage. I was delighted to see my
dear little friends and I hugged and kissed them. Then we rode
for a long time to see all the beautiful things in West Newton.
Many very handsome houses and large soft green lawns around them
and trees and bright flowers and fountains. The horse’s name was
Prince and he was gentle and liked to trot very fast. When we
went home we saw eight rabbits and two fat puppies, and a nice
little white pony, and two wee kittens and a pretty curly dog
named Don. Pony’s name was Mollie and I had a nice ride on her
back; I was not afraid, I hope my uncle will get me a dear little
pony and a little cart very soon.

Clifton did not kiss me because he does not like to kiss little
girls. He is shy. I am very glad that Frank and Clarence and
Robbie and Eddie and Charles and George were not very shy. I
played with many little girls and we had fun. I rode on Carrie’s
tricicle and picked flowers and ate fruit and hopped and skipped
and danced and went to ride. Many ladies and gentlemen came to
see us. Lucy and Dora and Charles were born in China. I was born
in America, and Mr. Anagnos was born in Greece. Mr. Drew says
little girls in China cannot talk on their fingers but I think
when I go to China I will teach them. Chinese nurse came to see
me, her name was Asu. She showed me a tiny atze that very rich
ladies in China wear because their feet never grow large. Amah
means a nurse. We came home in horse cars because it was Sunday
and steam cars do not go often on Sunday. Conductors and
engineers do get very tired and go home to rest. I saw little
Willie Swan in the car and he gave me a juicy pear. He was six
years old. What did I do when I was six years old? Will you
please ask my father to come to train to meet teacher and me? I
am very sorry that Eva and Bessie are sick. I hope I can have a
nice party my birthday, and I do want Carrie and Ethel and Frank
and Helen to come to Alabama to visit me. Will Mildred sleep with
me when I come home.

With much love and thousand kisses.
From your dear little daughter.

Her visit to Plymouth was in July. This letter, written three
months later, shows how well she remembered her first lesson in

South Boston, Mass. October 1st, 1888.

My dear uncle Morrie,—I think you will be very glad to receive a
letter from your dear little friend Helen. I am very happy to
write to you because I think of you and love you. I read pretty
stories in the book you sent me, about Charles and his boat, and
Arthur and his dream, and Rosa and the sheep.

I have been in a large boat. It was like a ship. Mother and
teacher and Mrs. Hopkins and Mr. Anagnos and Mr. Rodocanachi and
many other friends went to Plymouth to see many old things. I
will tell you a little story about Plymouth.

Many years ago there lived in England many good people, but the
king and his friends were not kind and gentle and patient with
good people, because the king did not like to have the people
disobey him. People did not like to go to church with the king;
but they did like to build very nice little churches for

The king was very angry with the people and they were sorry and
they said, we will go away to a strange country to live and leave
very dear home and friends and naughty king. So, they put all
their things into big boxes, and said, Good-bye. I am sorry for
them because they cried much. When they went to Holland they did
not know anyone; and they could not know what the people were
talking about because they did not know Dutch. But soon they
learned some Dutch words; but they loved their own language and
they did not want little boys and girls to forget it and learn to
talk funny Dutch. So they said, We must go to a new country far
away and build schools and houses and churches and make new
cities. So they put all their things in boxes and said, Good-bye
to their new friends and sailed away in a large boat to find a
new country. Poor people were not happy for their hearts were
full of sad thoughts because they did not know much about
America. I think little children must have been afraid of a great
ocean for it is very strong and it makes a large boat rock and
then the little children would fall down and hurt their heads.
After they had been many weeks on the deep ocean where they could
not see trees or flowers or grass, but just water and the
beautiful sky, for ships could not sail quickly then because men
did not know about engines and steam. One day a dear little
baby-boy was born. His name was Peregrine White. I am very sorry
that poor little Peregrine is dead now. Every day the people went
upon deck to look out for land. One day there was a great shout
on the ship for the people saw the land and they were full of joy
because they had reached a new country safely. Little girls and
boys jumped and clapped their hands. They were all glad when they
stepped upon a huge rock. I did see the rock in Plymouth and a
little ship like the Mayflower and the cradle that dear little
Peregrine slept in and many old things that came in the
Mayflower. Would you like to visit Plymouth some time and see
many old things.

Now I am very tired and I will rest.

With much love and many kisses, from your little friend.

The foreign words in these two letters, the first of which was
written during a visit to the kindergarten for the blind, she had
been told months before, and had stowed them away in her memory.
She assimilated words and practised with them, sometimes using
them intelligently, sometimes repeating them in a parrot-like
fashion. Even when she did not fully understand words or ideas,
she liked to set them down as though she did. It was in this way
that she learned to use correctly words of sound and vision which
express ideas outside of her experience. “Edith” is Edith Thomas.

Roxbury, Mass. Oct. 17th, 1888.

Mon cher Monsieur Anagnos,

I am sitting by the window and the beautiful sun is shining on me
Teacher and I came to the kindergarten yesterday. There are
twenty seven little children here and they are all blind. I am
sorry because they cannot see much. Sometime will they have very
well eyes? Poor Edith is blind and deaf and dumb. Are you very
sad for Edith and me? Soon I shall go home to see my mother and
my father and my dear good and sweet little sister. I hope you
will come to Alabama to visit me and I will take you to ride in
my little cart and I think you will like to see me on my dear
little pony’s back. I shall wear my lovely cap and my new riding
dress. If the sun shines brightly I will take you to see Leila
and Eva and Bessie. When I am thirteen years old I am going to
travel in many strange and beautiful countries. I shall climb
very high mountains in Norway and see much ice and snow. I hope I
will not fall and hurt my head I shall visit little Lord
Fauntleroy in England and he will be glad to show me his grand
and very ancient castle. And we will run with the deer and feed
the rabbits and catch the squirrels. I shall not be afraid of
Fauntleroy’s great dog Dougal. I hope Fauntleroy take me to see a
very kind queen. When I go to France I will take French. A little
French boy will say, Parlez-vous Francais? and I will say, Oui,
Monsieur, vous avez un joli chapeau. Donnez moi un baiser. I hope
you will go with me to Athens to see the maid of Athens. She was
very lovely lady and I will talk Greek to her. I will say, se
agapo and, pos echete and I think she will say, kalos, and then I
will say chaere. Will you please come to see me soon and take me
to the theater? When you come I will say, Kale emera, and when
you go home I will say, Kale nykta. Now I am too tired to write
more. Je vous aime. Au revoir

From your darling little friend

[So. Boston, Mass. October 29, 1888.]

My dearest Aunt,—I am coming home very soon and I think you and
every one will be very glad to see my teacher and me. I am very
happy because I have learned much about many things. I am
studying French and German and Latin and Greek. Se agapo is
Greek, and it means I love thee. J’ai une bonne petite soeur is
French, and it means I have a good little sister. Nous avons un
bon pere et une bonne mere means, we have a good father and a
good mother. Puer is boy in Latin, and Mutter is mother in
German. I will teach Mildred many languages when I come home.

Tuscumbia, Ala. Dec. 11th, 1888.

My dear Mrs. Hopkins:—
I have just fed my dear little pigeon. My brother Simpson gave it
to me last Sunday. I named it Annie, for my teacher. My puppy has
had his supper and gone to bed. My rabbits are sleeping, too; and
very soon I shall go to bed. Teacher is writing letters to her
friends. Mother and father and their friends have gone to see a
huge furnace. The furnace is to make iron. The iron ore is found
in the ground; but it cannot be used until it has been brought to
the furnace and melted, and all the dirt taken out, and just the
pure iron left. Then it is all ready to be manufactured into
engines, stoves, kettles and many other things.

Coal is found in the ground, too. Many years ago, before people
came to live on the earth, great trees and tall grasses and huge
ferns and all the beautiful flowers cover the earth. When the
leaves and the trees fell, the water and the soil covered them;
and then more trees grew and fell also, and were buried under
water and soil. After they had all been pressed together for many
thousands of years, the wood grew very hard, like rock, and then
it was all ready for people to burn. Can you see leaves and ferns
and bark on the coal? Men go down into the ground and dig out the
coal, and steam-cars take it to the large cities, and sell it to
people to burn, to make them warm and happy when it is cold out
of doors.

Are you very lonely and sad now? I hope you will come to see me
soon, and stay a long time.

With much love from your little friend

Tuscumbia, Ala., Jan. 29, 1889.

My dear Miss Bennett:—I am delighted to write to you this
morning. We have just eaten our breakfast. Mildred is running
about downstairs. I have been reading in my book about
astronomers. Astronomer comes from the Latin word astra, which
means stars; and astronomers are men who study the stars, and
tell us about them. When we are sleeping quietly in our beds,
they are watching the beautiful sky through the telescope. A
telescope is like a very strong eye. The stars are so far away
that people cannot tell much about them, without very excellent
instruments. Do you like to look out of your window, and see
little stars? Teacher says she can see Venus from our window, and
it is a large and beautiful star. The stars are called the
earth’s brothers and sisters.

There are a great many instruments besides those which the
astronomers use. A knife is an instrument to cut with. I think
the bell is an instrument, too. I will tell you what I know about

Some bells are musical and others are unmusical. Some are very
tiny and some are very large. I saw a very large bell at
Wellesley. It came from Japan. Bells are used for many purposes.
They tell us when breakfast is ready, when to go to school, when
it is time for church, and when there is a fire. They tell people
when to go to work, and when to go home and rest. The engine-bell
tells the passengers that they are coming to a station, and it
tells the people to keep out of the way. Sometimes very terrible
accidents happen, and many people are burned and drowned and
injured. The other day I broke my doll’s head off; but that was
not a dreadful accident, because dolls do not live and feel, like
people. My little pigeons are well, and so is my little bird. I
would like to have some clay. Teacher says it is time for me to
study now. Good-bye.
With much love, and many kisses,

Tuscumbia, Alabama, February 21st, 1889.

My dear Mr. Hale,
I am very much afraid that you are thinking in your mind that
little Helen has forgotten all about you and her dear cousins.
But I think you will be delighted to receive this letter because
then you will know that I of[ten] think about you and I love you
dearly for you are my dear cousin. I have been at home a great
many weeks now. It made me feel very sad to leave Boston and I
missed all of my friends greatly, but of course I was glad to get
back to my lovely home once more. My darling little sister is
growing very fast. Sometimes she tries to spell very short words
on her small [fingers] but she is too young to remember hard
words. When she is older I will teach her many things if she is
patient and obedient. My teacher says, if children learn to be
patient and gentle while they are little, that when they grow to
be young ladies and gentlemen they will not forget to be kind and
loving and brave. I hope I shall be courageous always. A little
girl in a story was not courageous. She thought she saw little
elves with tall pointed [hats] peeping from between the bushes
and dancing down the long alleys, and the poor little girl was
terrified. Did you have a pleasant Christmas? I had many lovely
presents given to me. The other day I had a fine party. All of my
dear little friends came to see me. We played games, and ate
ice-cream and cake and fruit. Then we had great fun. The sun is
shining brightly to-day and I hope we shall go to ride if the
roads are dry. In a few days the beautiful spring will be here. I
am very glad because I love the warm sunshine and the fragrant
flowers. I think Flowers grow to make people happy and good. I
have four dolls now. Cedric is my little boy, he is named for
Lord Fauntleroy. He has big brown eyes and long golden hair and
pretty round cheeks. Ida is my baby. A lady brought her to me
from Paris. She can drink milk like a real baby. Lucy is a fine
young lady. She has on a dainty lace dress and satin slippers.
Poor old Nancy is growing old and very feeble. She is almost an
invalid. I have two tame pigeons and a tiny canary bird. Jumbo is
very strong and faithful. He will not let anything harm us at
night. I go to school every day I am studying reading, writing,
arithmetic, geography and language. My Mother and teacher send
you and Mrs. Hale their kind greetings and Mildred sends you a
With much love and kisses, from your
Affectionate cousin

During the winter Miss Sullivan and her pupil were working at
Helen’s home in Tuscumbia, and to good purpose, for by spring
Helen had learned to write idiomatic English. After May, 1889, I
find almost no inaccuracies, except some evident slips of the
pencil. She uses words precisely and makes easy, fluent

Tuscumbia, Ala., May 18, 1889.

My Dear Mr. Anagnos:—You cannot imagine how delighted I was to
receive a letter from you last evening. I am very sorry that you
are going so far away. We shall miss you very, very much. I would
love to visit many beautiful cities with you. When I was in
Huntsville I saw Dr. Bryson, and he told me that he had been to
Rome and Athens and Paris and London. He had climbed the high
mountains in Switzerland and visited beautiful churches in Italy
and France, and he saw a great many ancient castles. I hope you
will please write to me from all the cities you visit. When you
go to Holland please give my love to the lovely princess
Wilhelmina. She is a dear little girl, and when she is old enough
she will be the queen of Holland. If you go to Roumania please
ask the good queen Elizabeth about her little invalid brother,
and tell her that I am very sorry that her darling little girl
died. I should like to send a kiss to Vittorio, the little prince
of Naples, but teacher says she is afraid you will not remember
so many messages. When I am thirteen years old I shall visit them
all myself.

I thank you very much for the beautiful story about Lord
Fauntleroy, and so does teacher.

I am so glad that Eva is coming to stay with me this summer. We
will have fine times together. Give Howard my love, and tell him
to answer my letter. Thursday we had a picnic. It was very
pleasant out in the shady woods, and we all enjoyed the picnic
very much.

Mildred is out in the yard playing, and mother is picking the
delicious strawberries. Father and Uncle Frank are down town.
Simpson is coming home soon. Mildred and I had our pictures taken
while we were in Huntsville. I will send you one.

The roses have been beautiful. Mother has a great many fine
roses. The La France and the Lamarque are the most fragrant; but
the Marechal Neil, Solfaterre, Jacqueminot, Nipheots, Etoile de
Lyon, Papa Gontier, Gabrielle Drevet and the Perle des Jardines
are all lovely roses.

Please give the little boys and girls my love. I think of them
every day and I love them dearly in my heart. When you come home
from Europe I hope you will be all well and very happy to get
home again. Do not forget to give my love to Miss Calliope
Kehayia and Mr. Francis Demetrios Kalopothakes.
Lovingly, your little friend,

Like a good many of Helen Keller’s early letters, this to her
French teacher is her re-phrasing of a story. It shows how much
the gift of writing is, in the early stages of its development,
the gift of mimicry.

Tuscumbia, Ala., May 17, 1889.

My Dear Miss Marrett—I am thinking about a dear little girl, who
wept very hard. She wept because her brother teased her very
much. I will tell you what he did, and I think you will feel very
sorry for the little child. She had a most beautiful doll given
her. Oh, it was a lovely and delicate doll! but the little girl’s
brother, a tall lad, had taken the doll, and set it up in a high
tree in the garden, and had run away. The little girl could not
reach the doll, and could not help it down, and therefore she
cried. The doll cried, too, and stretched out its arms from among
the green branches, and looked distressed. Soon the dismal night
would come—and was the doll to sit up in the tree all night, and
by herself? The little girl could not endure that thought. “I
will stay with you,” said she to the doll, although she was not
at all courageous. Already she began to see quite plainly the
little elves in their tall pointed hats, dancing down the dusky
alleys, and peeping from between the bushes, and they seemed to
come nearer and nearer; and she stretched her hands up towards
the tree in which the doll sat and they laughed, and pointed
their fingers at her. How terrified was the little girl; but if
one has not done anything wrong, these strange little elves
cannot harm one. “Have I done anything wrong? Ah, yes!” said the
little girl. “I have laughed at the poor duck, with the red rag
tied round its leg. It hobbled, and that made me laugh; but it is
wrong to laugh at the poor animals!”

Is it not a pitiful story? I hope the father punished the naughty
little boy. Shall you be very glad to see my teacher next
Thursday? She is going home to rest, but she will come back to me
next autumn.
Lovingly, your little friend,

Tuscumbia, Ala., May 27, 1889.

My Dear Miss Riley:—I wish you were here in the warm, sunny
south today. Little sister and I would take you out into the
garden, and pick the delicious raspberries and a few strawberries
for you. How would you like that? The strawberries are nearly all
gone. In the evening, when it is cool and pleasant, we would walk
in the yard, and catch the grasshoppers and butterflies. We would
talk about the birds and flowers and grass and Jumbo and Pearl.
If you liked, we would run and jump and hop and dance, and be
very happy. I think you would enjoy hearing the mocking-birds
sing. One sits on the twig of a tree, just beneath our window,
and he fills the air with his glad songs. But I am afraid you
cannot come to Tuscumbia; so I will write to you, and send you a
sweet kiss and my love. How is Dick? Daisy is happy, but she
would be happy ever if she had a little mate. My little children
are all well except Nancy, and she is quite feeble. My
grandmother and aunt Corinne are here. Grandmother is going to
make me two new dresses. Give my love to all the little girls,
and tell them that Helen loves them very, very much. Eva sends
love to all.

With much love and many kisses, from your affectionate little

During the summer Miss Sullivan was away from Helen for three
months and a half, the first separation of teacher and pupil.
Only once afterward in fifteen years was their constant
companionship broken for more than a few days at a time.

Tuscumbia, Ala., August 7, 1889.

Dearest Teacher—I am very glad to write to you this evening, for
I have been thinking much about you all day. I am sitting on the
piazza, and my little white pigeon is perched on the back of my
chair, watching me write. Her little brown mate has flown away
with the other birds; but Annie is not sad, for she likes to stay
with me. Fauntleroy is asleep upstairs, and Nancy is putting Lucy
to bed. Perhaps the mocking bird is singing them to sleep. All
the beautiful flowers are in bloom now. The air is sweet with the
perfume of jasmines, heliotropes and roses. It is getting warm
here now, so father is going to take us to the Quarry on the 20th
of August. I think we shall have a beautiful time out in the
cool, pleasant woods. I will write and tell you all the pleasant
things we do. I am so glad that Lester and Henry are good little
infants. Give them many sweet kisses for me.

What was the name of the little boy who fell in love with the
beautiful star? Eva has been telling me a story about a lovely
little girl named Heidi. Will you please send it to me? I shall
be delighted to have a typewriter.

Little Arthur is growing very fast. He has on short dresses now.
Cousin Leila thinks he will walk in a little while. Then I will
take his soft chubby hand in mine, and go out in the bright
sunshine with him. He will pull the largest roses, and chase the
gayest butterflies. I will take very good care of him, and not
let him fall and hurt himself. Father and some other gentlemen
went hunting yesterday. Father killed thirty-eight birds. We had
some of them for supper, and they were very nice. Last Monday
Simpson shot a pretty crane. The crane is a large and strong
bird. His wings are as long as my arm, and his bill is as long as
my foot. He eats little fishes, and other small animals. Father
says he can fly nearly all day without stopping.

Mildred is the dearest and sweetest little maiden in the world.
She is very roguish, too. Sometimes, when mother does not know
it, she goes out into the vineyard, and gets her apron full of
delicious grapes. I think she would like to put her two soft arms
around your neck and hug you.

Sunday I went to church. I love to go to church, because I like
to see my friends.

A gentleman gave me a beautiful card. It was a picture of a mill,
near a beautiful brook. There was a boat floating on the water,
and the fragrant lilies were growing all around the boat. Not far
from the mill there was an old house, with many trees growing
close to it. There were eight pigeons on the roof of the house,
and a great dog on the step. Pearl is a very proud mother-dog
now. She has eight puppies, and she thinks there never were such
fine puppies as hers.

I read in my books every day. I love them very, very, very much.
I do want you to come back to me soon. I miss you so very, very
much. I cannot know about many things, when my dear teacher is
not here. I send you five thousand kisses, and more love than I
can tell. I send Mrs. H. much love and a kiss.
From your affectionate little pupil,

In the fall Helen and Miss Sullivan returned to Perkins
Institution at South Boston.

South Boston, Oct. 24, 1889.

My Precious Little Sister:—Good morning. I am going to send you
a birthday gift with this letter. I hope it will please you very
much, because it makes me happy to send it. The dress is blue
like your eyes, and candy is sweet just like your dear little
self. I think mother will be glad to make the dress for you, and
when you wear it you will look as pretty as a rose. The
picture-book will tell you all about many strange and wild
animals. You must not be afraid of them. They cannot come out of
the picture to harm you.

I go to school every day, and I learn many new things. At eight I
study arithmetic. I like that. At nine I go to the gymnasium with
the little girls and we have great fun. I wish you could be here
to play three little squirrels, and two gentle doves, and to make
a pretty nest for a dear little robin. The mocking bird does not
live in the cold north. At ten I study about the earth on which
we all live. At eleven I talk with teacher and at twelve I study
zoology. I do not know what I shall do in the afternoon yet.

Now, my darling little Mildred, good bye. Give father and mother
a great deal of love and many hugs and kisses for me. Teacher
sends her love too.
From your loving sister,

South Boston, Mass., Nov. 20, 1889.

My Dear Mr. Wade:—I have just received a letter from my mother,
telling me that the beautiful mastiff puppy you sent me had
arrived in Tuscumbia safely. Thank you very much for the nice
gift. I am very sorry that I was not at home to welcome her; but
my mother and my baby sister will be very kind to her while her
mistress is away. I hope she is not lonely and unhappy. I think
puppies can feel very home-sick, as well as little girls. I
should like to call her Lioness, for your dog. May I? I hope she
will be very faithful,—and brave, too.

I am studying in Boston, with my dear teacher. I learn a great
many new and wonderful things. I study about the earth, and the
animals, and I like arithmetic exceedingly. I learn many new
words, too. EXCEEDINGLY is one that I learned yesterday. When I
see Lioness I will tell her many things which will surprise her
greatly. I think she will laugh when I tell her she is a
vertebrate, a mammal, a quadruped; and I shall be very sorry to
tell her that she belongs to the order Carnivora. I study French,
too. When I talk French to Lioness I will call her mon beau
chien. Please tell Lion that I will take good care of Lioness. I
shall be happy to have a letter from you when you like to write
to me.

From your loving little friend,

P.S. I am studying at the Institution for the Blind.

H. A. K.

This letter is indorsed in Whittier’s hand, “Helen A.
Keller—deaf dumb and blind—aged nine years.” “Browns” is a
lapse of the pencil for “brown eyes.”

Inst. for the Blind, So. Boston, Mass.,
Nov. 27, 1889.

Dear Poet,
I think you will be surprised to receive a letter from a little
girl whom you do not know, but I thought you would be glad to
hear that your beautiful poems make me very happy. Yesterday I
read “In School Days” and “My Playmate,” and I enjoyed them
greatly. I was very sorry that the poor little girl with the
browns and the “tangled golden curls” died. It is very pleasant
to live here in our beautiful world. I cannot see the lovely
things with my eyes, but my mind can see them all, and so I am
joyful all the day long.

When I walk out in my garden I cannot see the beautiful flowers
but I know that they are all around me; for is not the air sweet
with their fragrance? I know too that the tiny lily-bells are
whispering pretty secrets to their companions else they would not
look so happy. I love you very dearly, because you have taught me
so many lovely things about flowers, and birds, and people. Now I
must say, good-bye. I hope [you] will enjoy the Thanksgiving very

From your loving little friend,
To Mr. John Greenleaf Whittier.

Whittier’s reply, to which there is a reference in the following
letter, has been lost.

South Boston, Mass., Dec. 3, 1889.

My Dear Mother:—Your little daughter is very happy to write to
you this beautiful morning. It is cold and rainy here to-day.
Yesterday the Countess of Meath came again to see me. She gave me
a beautiful bunch of violets. Her little girls are named Violet
and May. The Earl said he should be delighted to visit Tuscumbia
the next time he comes to America. Lady Meath said she would like
to see your flowers, and hear the mocking-birds sing. When I
visit England they want me to come to see them, and stay a few
weeks. They will take me to see the Queen.

I had a lovely letter from the poet Whittier. He loves me. Mr.
Wade wants teacher and me to come and see him next spring. May we
go? He said you must feed Lioness from your hand, because she
will be more gentle if she does not eat with other dogs.

Mr. Wilson came to call on us one Thursday. I was delighted to
receive the flowers from home. They came while we were eating
breakfast, and my friends enjoyed them with me. We had a very
nice dinner on Thanksgiving day,—turkey and plum-pudding. Last
week I visited a beautiful art store. I saw a great many statues,
and the gentleman gave me an angel.

Sunday I went to church on board a great warship. After the
services were over the soldier-sailors showed us around. There
were four hundred and sixty sailors. They were very kind to me.
One carried me in his arms so that my feet would not touch the
water. They wore blue uniforms and queer little caps. There was a
terrible fire Thursday. Many stores were burned, and four men
were killed. I am very sorry for them. Tell father, please, to
write to me. How is dear little sister? Give her many kisses for
me. Now I must close. With much love, from your darling child,

So. Boston, Mass., Dec. 24, 1889

My dear Mother,
Yesterday I sent you a little Christmas box. I am very sorry that
I could not send it before so that you would receive it tomorrow,
but I could not finish the watch-case any sooner. I made all of
the gifts myself, excepting father’s handkerchief. I wish I could
have made father a gift too, but I did not have sufficient time.
I hope you will like your watch-case, for it made me very happy
to make it for you. You must keep your lovely new montre in it.
If it is too warm in Tuscumbia for little sister to wear her
pretty mittens, she can keep them because her sister made them
for her. I imagine she will have fun with the little toy man.
Tell her to shake him, and then he will blow his trumpet. I thank
my dear kind father for sending me some money, to buy gifts for
my friends. I love to make everybody happy. I should like to be
at home on Christmas day. We would be very happy together. I
think of my beautiful home every day. Please do not forget to
send me some pretty presents to hang on my tree. I am going to
have a Christmas tree, in the parlor and teacher will hang all of
my gifts upon it. It will be a funny tree. All of the girls have
gone home to spend Christmas. Teacher and I are the only babies
left for Mrs. Hopkins to care for. Teacher has been sick in bed
for many days. Her throat was very sore and the doctor thought
she would have to go away to the hospital, but she is better now.
I have not been sick at all. The little girls are well too.
Friday I am going to spend the day with my little friends Carrie,
Ethel, Frank and Helen Freeman. We will have great fun I am sure.

Mr. and Miss Endicott came to see me, and I went to ride in the
carriage. They are going to give me a lovely present, but I
cannot guess what it will be. Sammy has a dear new brother. He is
very soft and delicate yet. Mr. Anagnos is in Athens now. He is
delighted because I am here. Now I must say, good-bye. I hope I
have written my letter nicely, but it is very difficult to write
on this paper and teacher is not here to give me better. Give
many kisses to little sister and much love to all. Lovingly

South Boston, Jan. 8, 1890.

My dear Mr. Hale:
The beautiful shells came last night. I thank you very much for
them. I shall always keep them, and it will make me very happy to
think that you found them, on that far away island, from which
Columbus sailed to discover our dear country. When I am eleven
years old it will be four hundred years since he started with the
three small ships to cross the great strange ocean. He was very
brave. The little girls were delighted to see the lovely shells.
I told them all I knew about them. Are you very glad that you
could make so many happy? I am. I should be very happy to come
and teach you the Braille sometime, if you have time to learn,
but I am afraid you are too busy. A few days ago I received a
little box of English violets from Lady Meath. The flowers were
wilted, but the kind thought which came with them was as sweet
and as fresh as newly pulled violets.

With loving greeting to the little cousins, and Mrs. Hale and a
sweet kiss for yourself,
From your little friend,

This, the first of Helen’s letters to Dr. Holmes, written soon
after a visit to him, he published in “Over the Teacups.”
[Atlantic Monthly, May, 1890]

South Boston, Mass., March 1, 1890.

Dear, Kind Poet:—I have thought of you many times since that
bright Sunday when I bade you good-bye; and I am going to write
you a letter, because I love you. I am sorry that you have no
little children to play with you sometimes; but I think you are
very happy with your books, and your many, many friends. On
Washington’s birthday a great many people came here to see the
blind children; and I read for them from your poems, and showed
them some beautiful shells, which came from a little island near

I am reading a very sad story, called “Little Jakey.” Jakey was
the sweetest little fellow you can imagine, but he was poor and
blind. I used to think—when I was small, and before I could
read—that everybody was always happy, and at first it made me
very sad to know about pain and great sorrow; but now I know that
we could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only
joy in the world.

I am studying about insects in zoology, and I have learned many
things about butterflies. They do not make honey for us, like the
bees, but many of them are as beautiful as the flowers they light
upon, and they always delight the hearts of little children. They
live a gay life, flitting from flower to flower, sipping the
drops of honeydew, without a thought for the morrow. They are
just like little boys and girls when they forget books and
studies, and run away to the woods and the fields, to gather wild
flowers, or wade in the ponds for fragrant lilies, happy in the
bright sunshine.

If my little sister comes to Boston next June, will you let me
bring her to see you? She is a lovely baby, and I am sure you
will love her.

Now I must tell my gentle poet good-bye, for I have a letter to
write home before I go to bed.
From your loving little friend,

TO MISS SARAH FULLER [Miss Fuller gave Helen Keller her first
lesson in articulation. See Chapter IV, Speech.]
South Boston, Mass., April 3, 1890.

My dear Miss Fuller,
My heart is full of joy this beautiful morning, because I have
learned to speak many new words, and I can make a few sentences.
Last evening I went out in the yard and spoke to the moon. I
said, “O! moon come to me!” Do you think the lovely moon was glad
that I could speak to her? How glad my mother will be. I can
hardly wait for June to come I am so eager to speak to her and to
my precious little sister. Mildred could not understand me when I
spelled with my fingers, but now she will sit in my lap and I
will tell her many things to please her, and we shall be so happy
together. Are you very, very happy because you can make so many
people happy? I think you are very kind and patient, and I love
you very dearly. My teacher told me Tuesday that you wanted to
know how I came to wish to talk with my mouth. I will tell you
all about it, for I remember my thoughts perfectly. When I was a
very little child I used to sit in my mother’s lap all the time,
because I was very timid, and did not like to be left by myself.
And I would keep my little hand on her face all the while,
because it amused me to feel her face and lips move when she
talked with people. I did not know then what she was doing, for I
was quite ignorant of all things. Then when I was older I learned
to play with my nurse and the little negro children and I noticed
that they kept moving their lips just like my mother, so I moved
mine too, but sometimes it made me angry and I would hold my
playmates’ mouths very hard. I did not know then that it was very
naughty to do so. After a long time my dear teacher came to me,
and taught me to communicate with my fingers and I was satisfied
and happy. But when I came to school in Boston I met some deaf
people who talked with their mouths like all other people, and
one day a lady who had been to Norway came to see me, and told me
of a blind and deaf girl [Ragnhild Kaata] she had seen in that
far away land who had been taught to speak and understand others
when they spoke to her. This good and happy news delighted me
exceedingly, for then I was sure that I should learn also. I
tried to make sounds like my little playmates, but teacher told
me that the voice was very delicate and sensitive and that it
would injure it to make incorrect sounds, and promised to take me
to see a kind and wise lady who would teach me rightly. That lady
was yourself. Now I am as happy as the little birds, because I
can speak and perhaps I shall sing too. All of my friends will be
so surprised and glad.
Your loving little pupil,

When the Perkins Institution closed for the summer, Helen and
Miss Sullivan went to Tuscumbia. This was the first home-going
after she had learned to “talk with her mouth.”

Tuscumbia, Alabama, July 14, 1890.

My dear Mr. Brooks, I am very glad to write to you this beautiful
day because you are my kind friend and I love you, and because I
wish to know many things. I have been at home three weeks, and
Oh, how happy I have been with dear mother and father and
precious little sister. I was very, very sad to part with all of
my friends in Boston, but I was so eager to see my baby sister I
could hardly wait for the train to take me home. But I tried very
hard to be patient for teacher’s sake. Mildred has grown much
taller and stronger than she was when I went to Boston, and she
is the sweetest and dearest little child in the world. My parents
were delighted to hear me speak, and I was overjoyed to give them
such a happy surprise. I think it is so pleasant to make
everybody happy. Why does the dear Father in heaven think it best
for us to have very great sorrow sometimes? I am always happy and
so was Little Lord Fauntleroy, but dear Little Jakey’s life was
full of sadness. God did not put the light in Jakey’s eyes and he
was blind, and his father was not gentle and loving. Do you think
poor Jakey loved his Father in heaven more because his other
father was unkind to him? How did God tell people that his home
was in heaven? When people do very wrong and hurt animals and
treat children unkindly God is grieved, but what will he do to
them to teach them to be pitiful and loving? I think he will tell
them how dearly He loves them and that He wants them to be good
and happy, and they will not wish to grieve their father who
loves them so much, and they will want to please him in
everything they do, so they will love each other and do good to
everyone, and be kind to animals.

Please tell me something that you know about God. It makes me
happy to know much about my loving Father, who is good and wise.
I hope you will write to your little friend when you have time. I
should like very much to see you to-day Is the sun very hot in
Boston now? this afternoon if it is cool enough I shall take
Mildred for a ride on my donkey. Mr. Wade sent Neddy to me, and
he is the prettiest donkey you can imagine. My great dog Lioness
goes with us when we ride to protect us. Simpson, that is my
brother, brought me some beautiful pond lilies yesterday—he is a
very brother to me.

Teacher sends you her kind remembrances, and father and mother
also send their regards.
From your loving little friend,

London, August 3, 1890.

My Dear Helen—I was very glad indeed to get your letter. It has
followed me across the ocean and found me in this magnificent
great city which I should like to tell you all about if I could
take time for it and make my letter long enough. Some time when
you come and see me in my study in Boston I shall be glad to talk
to you about it all if you care to hear.

But now I want to tell you how glad I am that you are so happy
and enjoying your home so very much. I can almost think I see you
with your father and mother and little sister, with all the
brightness of the beautiful country about you, and it makes me
very glad to know how glad you are.

I am glad also to know, from the questions which you ask me, what
you are thinking about. I do not see how we can help thinking
about God when He is so good to us all the time. Let me tell you
how it seems to me that we come to know about our heavenly
Father. It is from the power of love which is in our own hearts.
Love is at the soul of everything. Whatever has not the power of
loving must have a very dreary life indeed. We like to think that
the sunshine and the winds and the trees are able to love in some
way of their own, for it would make us know that they were happy
if we knew that they could love. And so God who is the greatest
and happiest of all beings is the most loving too. All the love
that is in our hearts comes from him, as all the light which is
in the flowers comes from the sun. And the more we love the more
near we are to God and His Love.

I told you that I was very happy because of your happiness.
Indeed I am. So are your Father and your Mother and your Teacher
and all your friends. But do you not think that God is happy too
because you are happy? I am sure He is. And He is happier than
any of us because He is greater than any of us, and also because
He not merely SEES your happiness as we do, but He also MADE it.
He gives it to you as the sun gives light and color to the rose.
And we are always most glad of what we not merely see our friends
enjoy, but of what we give them to enjoy. Are we not?

But God does not only want us to be HAPPY; He wants us to be
good. He wants that most of all. He knows that we can be really
happy only when we are good. A great deal of the trouble that is
in the world is medicine which is very bad to take, but which it
is good to take because it makes us better. We see how good
people may be in great trouble when we think of Jesus who was the
greatest sufferer that ever lived and yet was the best Being and
so, I am sure, the happiest Being that the world has ever seen.

I love to tell you about God. But He will tell you Himself by the
love which He will put into your heart if you ask Him. And Jesus,
who is His Son, but is nearer to Him than all of us His other
Children, came into the world on purpose to tell us all about our
Father’s Love. If you read His words, you will see how full His
heart is of the love of God. “We KNOW that He loves us,” He says.
And so He loved men Himself and though they were very cruel to
Him and at last killed Him, He was willing to die for them
because He loved them so. And, Helen, He loves men still, and He
loves us, and He tells us that we may love Him.

And so love is everything. And if anybody asks you, or if you ask
yourself what God is, answer, “God is Love.” That is the
beautiful answer which the Bible gives.

All this is what you are to think of and to understand more and
more as you grow older. Think of it now, and let it make every
blessing brighter because your dear Father sends it to you.

You will come back to Boston I hope soon after I do. I shall be
there by the middle of September. I shall want you to tell me all
about everything, and not forget the Donkey.

I send my kind remembrance to your father and mother, and to your
teacher. I wish I could see your little sister.

Good Bye, dear Helen. Do write to me soon again, directing your
letter to Boston.
Your affectionate friend

To a letter which has been lost.

Beverly Farms, Mass., August 1, 1890.
My Dear Little Friend Helen:

I received your welcome letter several days ago, but I have so
much writing to do that I am apt to make my letters wait a good
while before they get answered.

It gratifies me very much to find that you remember me so kindly.
Your letter is charming, and I am greatly pleased with it. I
rejoice to know that you are well and happy. I am very much
delighted to hear of your new acquisition—that you “talk with
your mouth” as well as with your fingers. What a curious thing
SPEECH is! The tongue is so serviceable a member (taking all
sorts of shapes, just as is wanted),—the teeth, the lips, the
roof of the mouth, all ready to help, and so heap up the sound of
the voice into the solid bits which we call consonants, and make
room for the curiously shaped breathings which we call vowels!
You have studied all this, I don’t doubt, since you have
practised vocal speaking.

I am surprised at the mastery of language which your letter
shows. It almost makes me think the world would get along as well
without seeing and hearing as with them. Perhaps people would be
better in a great many ways, for they could not fight as they do
now. Just think of an army of blind people, with guns and cannon!
Think of the poor drummers! Of what use would they and their
drumsticks be? You are spared the pain of many sights and sounds,
which you are only too happy in escaping. Then think how much
kindness you are sure of as long as you live. Everybody will feel
an interest in dear little Helen; everybody will want to do
something for her; and, if she becomes an ancient, gray-haired
woman, she is still sure of being thoughtfully cared for.

Your parents and friends must take great satisfaction in your
progress. It does great credit, not only to you, but to your
instructors, who have so broken down the walls that seemed to
shut you in that now your outlook seems more bright and cheerful
than that of many seeing and hearing children.

Good-bye, dear little Helen! With every kind wish from your

This letter was written to some gentlemen in Gardiner, Maine, who
named a lumber vessel after her.

Tuscumbia, Ala., July 14, 1890.

My Dear, Kind Friends:—I thank you very, very much for naming
your beautiful new ship for me. It makes me very happy to know
that I have kind and loving friends in the far-away State of
Maine. I did not imagine, when I studied about the forests of
Maine, that a strong and beautiful ship would go sailing all over
the world, carrying wood from those rich forests, to build
pleasant homes and schools and churches in distant countries. I
hope the great ocean will love the new Helen, and let her sail
over its blue waves peacefully. Please tell the brave sailors,
who have charge of the HELEN KELLER, that little Helen who stays
at home will often think of them with loving thoughts. I hope I
shall see you and my beautiful namesake some time.

With much love, from your little friend,
To the Messrs. Bradstreet.

Helen and Miss Sullivan returned to the Perkins Institution early
in November.

South Boston, Nov. 10, 1890.

My Dearest Mother:—My heart has been full of thoughts of you and
my beautiful home ever since we parted so sadly on Wednesday
night. How I wish I could see you this lovely morning, and tell
you all that has happened since I left home! And my darling
little sister, how I wish I could give her a hundred kisses! And
my dear father, how he would like to hear about our journey! But
I cannot see you and talk to you, so I will write and tell you
all that I can think of.

We did not reach Boston until Saturday morning. I am sorry to say
that our train was delayed in several places, which made us late
in reaching New York. When we got to Jersey City at six o’clock
Friday evening we were obliged to cross the Harlem River in a
ferry-boat. We found the boat and the transfer carriage with much
less difficulty than teacher expected. When we arrived at the
station they told us that the train did not leave for Boston
until eleven o’clock, but that we could take the sleeper at nine,
which we did. We went to bed and slept until morning. When we
awoke we were in Boston. I was delighted to get there, though I
was much disappointed because we did not arrive on Mr. Anagnos’
birthday. We surprised our dear friends, however, for they did
not expect us Saturday; but when the bell rung Miss Marrett
guessed who was at the door, and Mrs. Hopkins jumped up from the
breakfast table and ran to the door to meet us; she was indeed
much astonished to see us. After we had had some breakfast we
went up to see Mr. Anagnos. I was overjoyed to see my dearest and
kindest friend once more. He gave me a beautiful watch. I have it
pinned to my dress. I tell everybody the time when they ask me. I
have only seen Mr. Anagnos twice. I have many questions to ask
him about the countries he has been travelling in. But I suppose
he is very busy now.

The hills in Virginia were very lovely. Jack Frost had dressed
them in gold and crimson. The view was most charmingly
picturesque. Pennsylvania is a very beautiful State. The grass
was as green as though it was springtime, and the golden ears of
corn gathered together in heaps in the great fields looked very
pretty. In Harrisburg we saw a donkey like Neddy. How I wish I
could see my own donkey and my dear Lioness! Do they miss their
mistress very much? Tell Mildred she must be kind to them for my

Our room is pleasant and comfortable.

My typewriter was much injured coming. The case was broken and
the keys are nearly all out. Teacher is going to see if it can be

There are many new books in the library. What a nice time I shall
have reading them! I have already read Sara Crewe. It is a very
pretty story, and I will tell it to you some time. Now, sweet
mother, your little girl must say good-bye.

With much love to father, Mildred, you and all the dear friends,
lovingly your little daughter,

South Boston, Dec. 17, 1890.

Dear Kind Poet,
This is your birthday; that was the first thought which came into
my mind when I awoke this morning; and it made me glad to think I
could write you a letter and tell you how much your little
friends love their sweet poet and his birthday. This evening they
are going to entertain their friends with readings from your
poems and music. I hope the swift winged messengers of love will
be here to carry some of the sweet melody to you, in your little
study by the Merrimac. At first I was very sorry when I found
that the sun had hidden his shining face behind dull clouds, but
afterwards I thought why he did it, and then I was happy. The sun
knows that you like to see the world covered with beautiful white
snow and so he kept back all his brightness, and let the little
crystals form in the sky. When they are ready, they will softly
fall and tenderly cover every object. Then the sun will appear in
all his radiance and fill the world with light. If I were with
you to-day I would give you eighty-three kisses, one for each
year you have lived. Eighty-three years seems very long to me.
Does it seem long to you? I wonder how many years there will be
in eternity. I am afraid I cannot think about so much time. I
received the letter which you wrote to me last summer, and I
thank you for it. I am staying in Boston now at the Institution
for the Blind, but I have not commenced my studies yet, because
my dearest friend, Mr. Anagnos wants me to rest and play a great

Teacher is well and sends her kind remembrance to you. The happy
Christmas time is almost here! I can hardly wait for the fun to
begin! I hope your Christmas Day will be a very happy one and
that the New Year will be full of brightness and joy for you and
every one.
From your little friend


My Dear Young Friend—I was very glad to have such a pleasant
letter on my birthday. I had two or three hundred others and
thine was one of the most welcome of all. I must tell thee about
how the day passed at Oak Knoll. Of course the sun did not shine,
but we had great open wood fires in the rooms, which were all
very sweet with roses and other flowers, which were sent to me
from distant friends; and fruits of all kinds from California and
other places. Some relatives and dear old friends were with me
through the day. I do not wonder thee thinks eighty three years a
long time, but to me it seems but a very little while since I was
a boy no older than thee, playing on the old farm at Haverhill. I
thank thee for all thy good wishes, and wish thee as many. I am
glad thee is at the Institution; it is an excellent place. Give
my best regards to Miss Sullivan, and with a great deal of love I
Thy old friend,

Tommy Stringer, who appears in several of the following letters,
became blind and deaf when he was four years old. His mother was
dead and his father was too poor to take care of him. For a while
he was kept in the general hospital at Allegheny. From here he
was to be sent to an almshouse, for at that time there was no
other place for him in Pennsylvania. Helen heard of him through
Mr. J. G. Brown of Pittsburgh, who wrote her that he had failed
to secure a tutor for Tommy. She wanted him brought to Boston,
and when she was told that money would be needed to get him a
teacher, she answered, “We will raise it.” She began to solicit
contributions from her friends, and saved her pennies.

Dr. Alexander Graham Bell advised Tommy’s friends to send him to
Boston, and the trustees of the Perkins Institution agreed to
admit him to the kindergarten for the blind.

Meanwhile opportunity came to Helen to make a considerable
contribution to Tommy’s education. The winter before, her dog
Lioness had been killed, and friends set to work to raise money
to buy Helen another dog. Helen asked that the contributions,
which people were sending from all over America and England, be
devoted to Tommy’s education. Turned to this new use, the fund
grew fast, and Tommy was provided for. He was admitted to the
kindergarten on the sixth of April.

Miss Keller wrote lately, “I shall never forget the pennies sent
by many a poor child who could ill spare them, ‘for little
Tommy,’ or the swift sympathy with which people from far and
near, whom I had never seen, responded to the dumb cry of a
little captive soul for aid.”

Institution for the Blind,
South Boston, Mass., March 20, 1891.

My Dear Friend, Mr. Krehl:—I have just heard, through Mr. Wade,
of your kind offer to buy me a gentle dog, and I want to thank
you for the kind thought. It makes me very happy indeed to know
that I have such dear friends in other lands. It makes me think
that all people are good and loving. I have read that the English
and Americans are cousins; but I am sure it would be much truer
to say that we are brothers and sisters. My friends have told me
about your great and magnificent city, and I have read a great
deal that wise Englishmen have written. I have begun to read
“Enoch Arden,” and I know several of the great poet’s poems by
heart. I am eager to cross the ocean, for I want to see my
English friends and their good and wise queen. Once the Earl of
Meath came to see me, and he told me that the queen was much
beloved by her people, because of her gentleness and wisdom. Some
day you will be surprised to see a little strange girl coming
into your office; but when you know it is the little girl who
loves dogs and all other animals, you will laugh, and I hope you
will give her a kiss, just as Mr. Wade does. He has another dog
for me, and he thinks she will be as brave and faithful as my
beautiful Lioness. And now I want to tell you what the dog lovers
in America are going to do. They are going to send me some money
for a poor little deaf and dumb and blind child. His name is
Tommy, and he is five years old. His parents are too poor to pay
to have the little fellow sent to school; so, instead of giving
me a dog, the gentlemen are going to help make Tommy’s life as
bright and joyous as mine. Is it not a beautiful plan? Education
will bring light and music into Tommy’s soul, and then he cannot
help being happy.
From your loving little friend,

[South Boston, Mass., April, 1891.]

Dear Dr. Holmes:—Your beautiful words about spring have been
making music in my heart, these bright April days. I love every
word of “Spring” and “Spring Has Come.” I think you will be glad
to hear that these poems have taught me to enjoy and love the
beautiful springtime, even though I cannot see the fair, frail
blossoms which proclaim its approach, or hear the joyous warbling
of the home-coming birds. But when I read “Spring Has Come,” lo!
I am not blind any longer, for I see with your eyes and hear with
your ears. Sweet Mother Nature can have no secrets from me when
my poet is near. I have chosen this paper because I want the
spray of violets in the corner to tell you of my grateful love. I
want you to see baby Tom, the little blind and deaf and dumb
child who has just come to our pretty garden. He is poor and
helpless and lonely now, but before another April education will
have brought light and gladness into Tommy’s life. If you do
come, you will want to ask the kind people of Boston to help
brighten Tommy’s whole life. Your loving friend,

Perkins Institution for the Blind,
South Boston, Mass., April 30, 1891.

My Dear Mr. Millais:—Your little American sister is going to
write you a letter, because she wants you to know how pleased she
was to hear you were interested in our poor little Tommy, and had
sent some money to help educate him. It is very beautiful to
think that people far away in England feel sorry for a little
helpless child in America. I used to think, when I read in my
books about your great city, that when I visited it the people
would be strangers to me, but now I feel differently. It seems to
me that all people who have loving, pitying hearts, are not
strangers to each other. I can hardly wait patiently for the time
to come when I shall see my dear English friends, and their
beautiful island home. My favourite poet has written some lines
about England which I love very much. I think you will like them
too, so I will try to write them for you.

“Hugged in the clinging billow’s clasp,
From seaweed fringe to mountain heather,
The British oak with rooted grasp
Her slender handful holds together,
With cliffs of white and bowers of green,
And ocean narrowing to caress her,
And hills and threaded streams between,
Our little mother isle, God bless her!”

You will be glad to hear that Tommy has a kind lady to teach him,
and that he is a pretty, active little fellow. He loves to climb
much better than to spell, but that is because he does not know
yet what a wonderful thing language is. He cannot imagine how
very, very happy he will be when he can tell us his thoughts, and
we can tell him how we have loved him so long.

Tomorrow April will hide her tears and blushes beneath the
flowers of lovely May. I wonder if the May-days in England are as
beautiful as they are here.

Now I must say good-bye. Please think of me always as your loving
little sister,

So. Boston, May 1, 1891.

My Dear Mr. Brooks:
Helen sends you a loving greeting this bright May-day. My teacher
has just told me that you have been made a bishop, and that your
friends everywhere are rejoicing because one whom they love has
been greatly honored. I do not understand very well what a
bishop’s work is, but I am sure it must be good and helpful, and
I am glad that my dear friend is brave, and wise, and loving
enough to do it. It is very beautiful to think that you can tell
so many people of the heavenly Father’s tender love for all His
children even when they are not gentle and noble as He wishes
them to be. I hope the glad news which you will tell them will
make their hearts beat fast with joy and love. I hope too, that
Bishop Brooks’ whole life will be as rich in happiness as the
month of May is full of blossoms and singing birds.
From your loving little friend,

Before a teacher was found for Tommy and while he was still in
the care of Helen and Miss Sullivan, a reception was held for him
at the kindergarten. At Helen’s request Bishop Brooks made an
address. Helen wrote letters to the newspapers which brought many
generous replies. All of these she answered herself, and she made
public acknowledgment in letters to the newspapers. This letter
is to the editor of the Boston Herald, enclosing a complete list
of the subscribers. The contributions amounted to more than
sixteen hundred dollars.

South Boston, May 13, 1891.
Editor of the Boston Herald:
My Dear Mr. Holmes:—Will you kindly print in the Herald, the
enclosed list? I think the readers of your paper will be glad to
know that so much has been done for dear little Tommy, and that
they will all wish to share in the pleasure of helping him. He is
very happy indeed at the kindergarten, and is learning something
every day. He has found out that doors have locks, and that
little sticks and bits of paper can be got into the key-hole
quite easily; but he does not seem very eager to get them out
after they are in. He loves to climb the bed-posts and unscrew
the steam valves much better than to spell, but that is because
he does not understand that words would help him to make new and
interesting discoveries. I hope that good people will continue to
work for Tommy until his fund is completed, and education has
brought light and music into his little life.
From your little friend,

South Boston, May 27, 1891.
Dear, Gentle Poet:—I fear that you will think Helen a very
troublesome little girl if she writes to you too often; but how
is she to help sending you loving and grateful messages, when you
do so much to make her glad? I cannot begin to tell you how
delighted I was when Mr. Anagnos told me that you had sent him
some money to help educate “Baby Tom.” Then I knew that you had
not forgotten the dear little child, for the gift brought with it
the thought of tender sympathy. I am very sorry to say that Tommy
has not learned any words yet. He is the same restless little
creature he was when you saw him. But it is pleasant to think
that he is happy and playful in his bright new home, and by and
by that strange, wonderful thing teacher calls MIND, will begin
to spread its beautiful wings and fly away in search of
knowledge-land. Words are the mind’s wings, are they not?

I have been to Andover since I saw you, and I was greatly
interested in all that my friends told me about Phillips Academy,
because I knew you had been there, and I felt it was a place dear
to you. I tried to imagine my gentle poet when he was a
school-boy, and I wondered if it was in Andover he learned the
songs of the birds and the secrets of the shy little woodland
children. I am sure his heart was always full of music, and in
God’s beautiful world he must have heard love’s sweet replying.
When I came home teacher read to me “The School-boy,” for it is
not in our print.

Did you know that the blind children are going to have their
commencement exercises in Tremont Temple, next Tuesday afternoon?
I enclose a ticket, hoping that you will come. We shall all be
proud and happy to welcome our poet friend. I shall recite about
the beautiful cities of sunny Italy. I hope our kind friend Dr.
Ellis will come too, and take Tom in his arms.

With much love and a kiss, from your little friend,

South Boston, June 8, 1891.
My dear Mr. Brooks,
I send you my picture as I promised, and I hope when you look at
it this summer your thoughts will fly southward to your happy
little friend. I used to wish that I could see pictures with my
hands as I do statues, but now I do not often think about it
because my dear Father has filled my mind with beautiful
pictures, even of things I cannot see. If the light were not in
your eyes, dear Mr. Brooks, you would understand better how happy
your little Helen was when her teacher explained to her that the
best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen nor
even touched, but just felt in the heart. Every day I find out
something which makes me glad. Yesterday I thought for the first
time what a beautiful thing motion was, and it seemed to me that
everything was trying to get near to God, does it seem that way
to you? It is Sunday morning, and while I sit here in the library
writing this letter you are teaching hundreds of people some of
the grand and beautiful things about their heavenly Father. Are
you not very, very happy? and when you are a Bishop you will
preach to more people and more and more will be made glad.
Teacher sends her kind remembrances, and I send you with my
picture my dear love.
From your little friend

When the Perkins Institution closed in June, Helen and her
teacher went south to Tuscumbia, where they remained until
December. There is a hiatus of several months in the letters,
caused by the depressing effect on Helen and Miss Sullivan of the
“Frost King” episode. At the time this trouble seemed very grave
and brought them much unhappiness. An analysis of the case has
been made elsewhere, and Miss Keller has written her account of

Brewster, Mar. 10, 1892.
My dear Mr. Munsell,
Surely I need not tell you that your letter was very welcome. I
enjoyed every word of it and wished that it was longer. I laughed
when you spoke of old Neptune’s wild moods. He has, in truth,
behaved very strangely ever since we came to Brewster. It is
evident that something has displeased his Majesty but I cannot
imagine what it can be. His expression has been so turbulent that
I have feared to give him your kind message. Who knows! Perhaps
the Old Sea God as he lay asleep upon the shore, heard the soft
music of growing things—the stir of life in the earth’s bosom,
and his stormy heart was angry, because he knew that his and
Winter’s reign was almost at an end. So together the unhappy
monarch[s] fought most despairingly, thinking that gentle Spring
would turn and fly at the very sight of the havoc caused by their
forces. But lo! the lovely maiden only smiles more sweetly, and
breathes upon the icy battlements of her enemies, and in a moment
they vanish, and the glad Earth gives her a royal welcome. But I
must put away these idle fancies until we meet again. Please give
your dear mother my love. Teacher wishes me to say that she liked
the photograph very much and she will see about having some when
we return. Now, dear friend, Please accept these few words
because of the love that is linked with them.
Lovingly yours

This letter was reproduced in facsimile in St. Nicholas, June,
1892. It is undated, but must have been written two or three
months before it was published.

To St. Nicholas
Dear St. Nicholas:

It gives me very great pleasure to send you my autograph because
I want the boys and girls who read St. Nicholas to know how blind
children write. I suppose some of them wonder how we keep the
lines so straight so I will try to tell them how it is done. We
have a grooved board which we put between the pages when we wish
to write. The parallel grooves correspond to lines and when we
have pressed the paper into them by means of the blunt end of the
pencil it is very easy to keep the words even. The small letters
are all made in the grooves, while the long ones extend above and
below them. We guide the pencil with the right hand, and feel
carefully with the forefinger of the left hand to see that we
shape and space the letters correctly. It is very difficult at
first to form them plainly, but if we keep on trying it gradually
becomes easier, and after a great deal of practice we can write
legible letters to our friends. Then we are very, very happy.
Sometime they may visit a school for the blind. If they do, I am
sure they will wish to see the pupils write.
Very sincerely your little friend

In May, 1892, Helen gave a tea in aid of the kindergarten for the
blind. It was quite her own idea, and was given in the house of
Mrs. Mahlon D. Spaulding, sister of Mr. John P. Spaulding, one of
Helen’s kindest and most liberal friends. The tea brought more
than two thousand dollars for the blind children.

South Boston, May 9, 1892.
My dear Miss Carrie:—I was much pleased to receive your kind
letter. Need I tell you that I was more than delighted to hear
that you are really interested in the “tea”? Of course we must
not give it up. Very soon I am going far away, to my own dear
home, in the sunny south, and it would always make me happy to
think that the last thing which my dear friends in Boston did for
my pleasure was to help make the lives of many little sightless
children good and happy. I know that kind people cannot help
feeling a tender sympathy for the little ones, who cannot see the
beautiful light, or any of the wonderful things which give them
pleasure; and it seems to me that all loving sympathy must
express itself in acts of kindness; and when the friends of
little helpless blind children understand that we are working for
their happiness, they will come and make our “tea” a success, and
I am sure I shall be the happiest little girl in all the world.
Please let Bishop Brooks know our plans, so that he may arrange
to be with us. I am glad Miss Eleanor is interested. Please give
her my love. I will see you to-morrow and then we can make the
rest of our plans. Please give your dear aunt teacher’s and my
love and tell her that we enjoyed our little visit very much
Lovingly yours,

South Boston, May 11th, 1892.
My dear Mr. Spaulding:—I am afraid you will think your little
friend, Helen, very troublesome when you read this letter; but I
am sure you will not blame me when I tell you that I am very
anxious about something. You remember teacher and I told you
Sunday that I wanted to have a little tea in aid of the
kindergarten. We thought everything was arranged: but we found
Monday that Mrs. Elliott would not be willing to let us invite
more than fifty people, because Mrs. Howe’s house is quite small.
I am sure that a great many people would like to come to the tea,
and help me do something to brighten the lives of little blind
children; but some of my friends say that I shall have to give up
the idea of having a tea unless we can find another house.
Teacher said yesterday, that perhaps Mrs. Spaulding would be
willing to let us have her beautiful house, and [I] thought I
would ask you about it. Do you think Mrs. Spaulding would help
me, if I wrote to her? I shall be so disappointed if my little
plans fail, because I have wanted for a long time to do something
for the poor little ones who are waiting to enter the
kindergarten. Please let me know what you think about the house,
and try to forgive me for troubling you so much.
Lovingly your little friend,

South Boston, May 18th, 1892.
My dear Mr. Clement:—I am going to write to you this beautiful
morning because my heart is brimful of happiness and I want you
and all my dear friends in the Transcript office to rejoice with
me. The preparations for my tea are nearly completed, and I am
looking forward joyfully to the event. I know I shall not fail.
Kind people will not disappoint me, when they know that I plead
for helpless little children who live in darkness and ignorance.
They will come to my tea and buy light,—the beautiful light of
knowledge and love for many little ones who are blind and
friendless. I remember perfectly when my dear teacher came to me.
Then I was like the little blind children who are waiting to
enter the kindergarten. There was no light in my soul. This
wonderful world with all its sunlight and beauty was hidden from
me, and I had never dreamed of its loveliness. But teacher came
to me and taught my little fingers to use the beautiful key that
has unlocked the door of my dark prison and set my spirit free.

It is my earnest wish to share my happiness with others, and I
ask the kind people of Boston to help me make the lives of little
blind children brighter and happier.
Lovingly your little friend,

At the end of June Miss Sullivan and Helen went home to

Tuscumbia, Alabama, July 9th 1892.

My dear Carrie—You are to look upon it as a most positive proof
of my love that I write to you to-day. For a whole week it has
been “cold and dark and dreary” in Tuscumbia, and I must confess
the continuous rain and dismalness of the weather fills me with
gloomy thoughts and makes the writing of letters, or any pleasant
employment, seem quite impossible. Nevertheless, I must tell you
that we are alive,—that we reached home safely, and that we
speak of you daily, and enjoy your interesting letters very much.
I had a beautiful visit at Hulton. Everything was fresh and
spring-like, and we stayed out of doors all day. We even ate our
breakfast out on the piazza. Sometimes we sat in the hammock, and
teacher read to me. I rode horseback nearly every evening and
once I rode five miles at a fast gallop. O, it was great fun! Do
you like to ride? I have a very pretty little cart now, and if it
ever stops raining teacher and I are going to drive every
evening. And I have another beautiful Mastiff—the largest one I
ever saw—and he will go along to protect us. His name is Eumer.
A queer name, is it not? I think it is Saxon. We expect to go to
the mountains next week. My little brother, Phillips, is not
well, and we think the clear mountain air will benefit him.
Mildred is a sweet little sister and I am sure you would love
her. I thank you very much for your photograph. I like to have my
friends’ pictures even though I cannot see them. I was greatly
amused at the idea of your writing the square hand. I do not
write on a Braille tablet, as you suppose, but on a grooved board
like the piece which I enclose. You could not read Braille; for
it is written in dots, not at all like ordinary letters. Please
give my love to Miss Derby and tell her that I hope she gave my
sweetest love to Baby Ruth. What was the book you sent me for my
birthday? I received several, and I do not know which was from
you. I had one gift which especially pleased me. It was a lovely
cape crocheted, for me, by an old gentleman, seventy-five years
of age. And every stitch, he writes, represents a kind wish for
my health and happiness. Tell your little cousins I think they
had better get upon the fence with me until after the election;
for there are so many parties and candidates that I doubt if such
youthful politicians would make a wise selection. Please give my
love to Rosy when you write, and believe me,
Your loving friend
P.S. How do you like this type-written letter?
H. K.

My dear Mrs. Cleveland,
I am going to write you a little letter this beautiful morning
because I love you and dear little Ruth very much indeed, and
also because I wish to thank you for the loving message which you
sent me through Miss Derby. I am glad, very glad that such a
kind, beautiful lady loves me. I have loved you for a long time,
but I did not think you had ever heard of me until your sweet
message came. Please kiss your dear little baby for me, and tell
her I have a little brother nearly sixteen months old. His name
is Phillips Brooks. I named him myself after my dear friend
Phillips Brooks. I send you with this letter a pretty book which
my teacher thinks will interest you, and my picture. Please
accept them with the love and good wishes of your friend,
Tuscumbia, Alabama.
November fourth. [1892.]

Hitherto the letters have been given in full; from this point on
passages are omitted and the omissions are indicated.

Tuscumbia, Alabama, Dec. 19, 1892.

My Dear Mr. Hitz,
I hardly know how to begin a letter to you, it has been such a
long time since your kind letter reached me, and there is so much
that I would like to write if I could. You must have wondered why
your letter has not had an answer, and perhaps you have thought
Teacher and me very naughty indeed. If so, you will be very sorry
when I tell you something. Teacher’s eyes have been hurting her
so that she could not write to any one, and I have been trying to
fulfil a promise which I made last summer. Before I left Boston,
I was asked to write a sketch of my life for the Youth’s
Companion. I had intended to write the sketch during my vacation:
but I was not well, and I did not feel able to write even to my
friends. But when the bright, pleasant autumn days came, and I
felt strong again I began to think about the sketch. It was some
time before I could plan it to suit me. You see, it is not very
pleasant to write all about one’s self. At last, however, I got
something bit by bit that Teacher thought would do, and I set
about putting the scraps together, which was not an easy task:
for, although I worked some on it every day, I did not finish it
until a week ago Saturday. I sent the sketch to the Companion as
soon as it was finished; but I do not know that they will accept
it. Since then, I have not been well, and I have been obliged to
keep very quiet, and rest; but to-day I am better, and to-morrow
I shall be well again, I hope.

The reports which you have read in the paper about me are not
true at all. We received the Silent Worker which you sent, and I
wrote right away to the editor to tell him that it was a mistake.
Sometimes I am not well; but I am not a “wreck,” and there is
nothing “distressing” about my condition.

I enjoyed your dear letter so much! I am always delighted when
anyone writes me a beautiful thought which I can treasure in my
memory forever. It is because my books are full of the riches of
which Mr. Ruskin speaks that I love them so dearly. I did not
realize until I began to write the sketch for the Companion, what
precious companions books have been to me, and how blessed even
my life has been: and now I am happier than ever because I do
realize the happiness that has come to me. I hope you will write
to me as often as you can. Teacher and I are always delighted to
hear from you. I want to write to Mr. Bell and send him my
picture. I suppose he has been too busy to write to his little
friend. I often think of the pleasant time we had all together in
Boston last spring.

Now I am going to tell you a secret. I think we, Teacher, and my
father and little sister, and myself, will visit Washington next
March!!! Then I shall see you, and dear Mr. Bell, and Elsie and
Daisy again! Would not it be lovely if Mrs. Pratt could meet us
there? I think I will write to her and tell her the secret
Lovingly your little friend,

P.S. Teacher says you want to know what kind of a pet I would
like to have. I love all living things,—I suppose everyone does;
but of course I cannot have a menagerie. I have a beautiful pony,
and a large dog. And I would like a little dog to hold in my lap,
or a big pussy (there are no fine cats in Tuscumbia) or a parrot.
I would like to feel a parrot talk, it would be so much fun! but
I would be pleased with, and love any little creature you send
H. K.

Tuscumbia, Alabama, February 18, 1893.
…You have often been in my thoughts during these sad days,
while my heart has been grieving over the loss of my beloved
friend [Phillips Brooks died January 23, 1893], and I have wished
many times that I was in Boston with those who knew and loved him
as I did… he was so much of a friend to me! so tender and
loving always! I do try not to mourn his death too sadly. I do
try to think that he is still near, very near; but sometimes the
thought that he is not here, that I shall not see him when I go
to Boston,—that he is gone,—rushes over my soul like a great
wave of sorrow. But at other times, when I am happier, I do feel
his beautiful presence, and his loving hand leading me in
pleasant ways. Do you remember the happy hour we spent with him
last June when he held my hand, as he always did, and talked to
us about his friend Tennyson, and our own dear poet Dr. Holmes,
and I tried to teach him the manual alphabet, and he laughed so
gaily over his mistakes, and afterward I told him about my tea,
and he promised to come? I can hear him now, saying in his
cheerful, decided way, in reply to my wish that my tea might be a
success, “Of course it will, Helen. Put your whole heart in the
good work, my child, and it cannot fail.” I am glad the people
are going to raise a monument to his memory….

In March Helen and Miss Sullivan went North, and spent the next
few months traveling and visiting friends.

In reading this letter about Niagara one should remember that
Miss Keller knows distance and shape, and that the size of
Niagara is within her experience after she has explored it,
crossed the bridge and gone down in the elevator. Especially
important are such details as her feeling the rush of the water
by putting her hand on the window. Dr. Bell gave her a down
pillow, which she held against her to increase the vibrations.

South Boston, April 13, 1893.
…Teacher, Mrs. Pratt and I very unexpectedly decided to take a
journey with dear Dr. Bell Mr. Westervelt, a gentleman whom
father met in Washington, has a school for the deaf in Rochester.
We went there first….

Mr. Westervelt gave us a reception one afternoon. A great many
people came. Some of them asked odd questions. A lady seemed
surprised that I loved flowers when I could not see their
beautiful colors, and when I assured her I did love them, she
said, “no doubt you feel the colors with your fingers.” But of
course, it is not alone for their bright colors that we love the
flowers…. A gentleman asked me what BEAUTY meant to my mind. I
must confess I was puzzled at first. But after a minute I
answered that beauty was a form of goodness—and he went away.

When the reception was over we went back to the hotel and teacher
slept quite unconscious of the surprise which was in store for
her. Mr. Bell and I planned it together, and Mr. Bell made all
the arrangements before we told teacher anything about it. This
was the surprise—I was to have the pleasure of taking my dear
teacher to see Niagara Falls!…

The hotel was so near the river that I could feel it rushing past
by putting my hand on the window. The next morning the sun rose
bright and warm, and we got up quickly for our hearts were full
of pleasant expectation…. You can never imagine how I felt when
I stood in the presence of Niagara until you have the same
mysterious sensations yourself. I could hardly realize that it
was water that I felt rushing and plunging with impetuous fury at
my feet. It seemed as if it were some living thing rushing on to
some terrible fate. I wish I could describe the cataract as it
is, its beauty and awful grandeur, and the fearful and
irresistible plunge of its waters over the brow of the precipice.
One feels helpless and overwhelmed in the presence of such a vast
force. I had the same feeling once before when I first stood by
the great ocean and felt its waves beating against the shore. I
suppose you feel so, too, when you gaze up to the stars in the
stillness of the night, do you not?… We went down a hundred and
twenty feet in an elevator that we might see the violent eddies
and whirlpools in the deep gorge below the Falls. Within two
miles of the Falls is a wonderful suspension bridge. It is thrown
across the gorge at a height of two hundred and fifty-eight feet
above the water and is supported on each bank by towers of solid
rock, which are eight hundred feet apart. When we crossed over to
the Canadian side, I cried, “God save the Queen!” Teacher said I
was a little traitor. But I do not think so. I was only doing as
the Canadians do, while I was in their country, and besides I
honor England’s good queen.

You will be pleased, dear Mother, to hear that a kind lady whose
name is Miss Hooker is endeavoring to improve my speech. Oh, I do
so hope and pray that I shall speak well some day!…

Mr. Munsell spent last Sunday evening with us. How you would have
enjoyed hearing him tell about Venice! His beautiful
word-pictures made us feel as if we were sitting in the shadow of
San Marco, dreaming, or sailing upon the moonlit canal…. I hope
when I visit Venice, as I surely shall some day, that Mr. Munsell
will go with me. That is my castle in the air. You see, none of
my friends describe things to me so vividly and so beautifully as
he does….

Her visit to the World’s Fair she described in a letter to Mr.
John P. Spaulding, which was published in St. Nicholas, and is
much like the following letter. In a prefatory note which Miss
Sullivan wrote for St. Nicholas, she says that people frequently
said to her, “Helen sees more with her fingers than we do with
our eyes.” The President of the Exposition gave her this letter:


GENTLEMEN—The bearer, Miss Helen Keller, accompanied by Miss
Sullivan, is desirous of making a complete inspection of the
Exposition in all Departments. She is blind and deaf, but is able
to converse, and is introduced to me as one having a wonderful
ability to understand the objects she visits, and as being
possessed of a high order of intelligence and of culture beyond
her years. Please favour her with every facility to examine the
exhibits in the several Departments, and extend to her such other
courtesies as may be possible.

Thanking you in advance for the same, I am, with respect,
Very truly yours,
(signed) H. N. HIGINBOTHAM,

Hulton, Penn., August 17, 1893.

…Every one at the Fair was very kind to me… Nearly all of the
exhibitors seemed perfectly willing to let me touch the most
delicate things, and they were very nice about explaining
everything to me. A French gentleman, whose name I cannot
remember, showed me the great French bronzes. I believe they gave
me more pleasure than anything else at the Fair: they were so
lifelike and wonderful to my touch. Dr. Bell went with us himself
to the electrical building, and showed us some of the historical
telephones. I saw the one through which Emperor Dom Pedro
listened to the words, “To be, or not to be,” at the Centennial.
Dr. Gillett of Illinois took us to the Liberal Arts and Woman’s
buildings. In the former I visited Tiffany’s exhibit, and held
the beautiful Tiffany diamond, which is valued at one hundred
thousand dollars, and touched many other rare and costly things.
I sat in King Ludwig’s armchair and felt like a queen when Dr.
Gillett remarked that I had many loyal subjects. At the Woman’s
building we met the Princess Maria Schaovskoy of Russia, and a
beautiful Syrian lady. I liked them both very much. I went to the
Japanese department with Prof. Morse who is a well-known
lecturer. I never realized what a wonderful people the Japanese
are until I saw their most interesting exhibit. Japan must indeed
be a paradise for children to judge from the great number of
playthings which are manufactured there. The queer-looking
Japanese musical instruments, and their beautiful works of art
were interesting. The Japanese books are very odd. There are
forty-seven letters in their alphabets. Prof. Morse knows a great
deal about Japan, and is very kind and wise. He invited me to
visit his museum in Salem the next time I go to Boston. But I
think I enjoyed the sails on the tranquil lagoon, and the lovely
scenes, as my friends described them to me, more than anything
else at the Fair. Once, while we were out on the water, the sun
went down over the rim of the earth, and threw a soft, rosy light
over the White City, making it look more than ever like

Of course, we visited the Midway Plaisance. It was a bewildering
and fascinating place. I went into the streets of Cairo, and rode
on the camel. That was fine fun. We also rode in the Ferris
wheel, and on the ice-railway, and had a sail in the

In the spring of 1893 a club was started in Tuscumbia, of which
Mrs. Keller was president, to establish a public library. Miss
Keller says:

“I wrote to my friends about the work and enlisted their
sympathy. Several hundred books, including many fine ones, were
sent to me in a short time, as well as money and encouragement.
This generous assistance encouraged the ladies, and they have
gone on collecting and buying books ever since, until now they
have a very respectable public library in the town.”

Hulton, Penn., Oct. 21, 1893.
…We spent September at home in Tuscumbia… and were all very
happy together…. Our quiet mountain home was especially
attractive and restful after the excitement and fatigue of our
visit to the World’s Fair. We enjoyed the beauty and solitude of
the hills more than ever.

And now we are in Hulton, Penn. again where I am going to study
this winter with a tutor assisted by my dear teacher. I study
Arithmetic, Latin and literature. I enjoy my lessons very much.
It is so pleasant to learn about new things. Every day I find how
little I know, but I do not feel discouraged since God has given
me an eternity in which to learn more. In literature I am
studying Longfellow’s poetry. I know a great deal of it by heart,
for I loved it long before I knew a metaphor from a synecdoche. I
used to say I did not like arithmetic very well, but now I have
changed my mind. I see what a good and useful study it is, though
I must confess my mind wanders from it sometimes! for, nice and
useful as arithmetic is, it is not as interesting as a beautiful
poem or a lovely story. But bless me, how time does fly. I have
only a few moments left in which to answer your questions about
the “Helen Keller” Public Library.

1. I think there are about 3,000 people in Tuscumbia, Ala., and
perhaps half of them are colored people. 2. At present there is
no library of any sort in the town. That is why I thought about
starting one. My mother and several of my lady friends said they
would help me, and they formed a club, the object of which is to
work for the establishment of a free public library in Tuscumbia.
They have now about 100 books and about $55 in money, and a kind
gentleman has given us land on which to erect a library building.
But in the meantime the club has rented a little room in a
central part of the town, and the books which we already have are
free to all. 3. Only a few of my kind friends in Boston know
anything about the library. I did not like to trouble them while
I was trying to get money for poor little Tommy, for of course it
was more important that he should be educated than that my people
should have books to read. 4. I do not know what books we have,
but I think it is a miscellaneous (I think that is the word)

P.S. My teacher thinks it would be more businesslike to say that
a list of the contributors toward the building fund will be kept
and published in my father’s paper, the “North Alabamian.”
H. K.

Hulton, Penn., December 28, 1893.
…Please thank dear Miss Derby for me for the pretty shield
which she sent me. It is a very interesting souvenir of Columbus,
and of the Fair White City; but I cannot imagine what discoveries
I have made,—I mean new discoveries. We are all discoverers in
one sense, being born quite ignorant of all things; but I hardly
think that is what she meant. Tell her she must explain why I am
a discoverer….

Hulton, Pennsylvania, January 14, 1894

My dear Cousin: I had thought to write to you long before this in
answer to your kind letter which I was so glad to receive, and to
thank you for the beautiful little book which you sent me; but I
have been very busy since the beginning of the New Year. The
publication of my little story in the Youth’s Companion has
brought me a large number of letters,—last week I received
sixty-one!—and besides replying to some of these letters, I have
many lessons to learn, among them Arithmetic and Latin; and, you
know, Caesar is Caesar still, imperious and tyrannical, and if a
little girl would understand so great a man, and the wars and
conquests of which he tells in his beautiful Latin language, she
must study much and think much, and study and thought require

I shall prize the little book always, not only for its own value;
but because of its associations with you. It is a delight to
think of you as the giver of one of your books into which, I am
sure, you have wrought your own thoughts and feelings, and I
thank you very much for remembering me in such a very beautiful

In February Helen and Miss Sullivan returned to Tuscumbia. They
spent the rest of the spring reading and studying. In the summer
they attended the meeting at Chautauqua of the American
Association for the Promotion of the Teaching of Speech to the
Deaf, where Miss Sullivan read a paper on Helen Keller’s

In the fall Helen and Miss Sullivan entered the Wright-Humason
School in New York, which makes a special of lip-reading and
voice-culture. The “singing lessons” were to strengthen her
voice. She had taken a few piano lessons at the Perkins
Institution. The experiment was interesting, but of course came
to little.

The Wright-Humason School.
42 West 76th St.
New York. Oct. 23, 1894.
…The school is very pleasant, and bless you! it is quite
fashionable…. I study Arithmetic, English Literature and United
States History as I did last winter. I also keep a diary. I enjoy
my singing lessons with Dr. Humason more than I can say. I expect
to take piano lessons sometime….

Last Saturday our kind teachers planned a delightful trip to
Bedloe’s Island to see Bartholdi’s great statue of Liberty
enlightening the world…. The ancient cannon, which look
seaward, wear a very menacing expression; but I doubt if there is
any unkindness in their rusty old hearts.

Liberty is a gigantic figure of a woman in Greek draperies,
holding in her right hand a torch…. A spiral stairway leads
from the base of this pedestal to the torch. We climbed up to the
head which will hold forty persons, and viewed the scene on which
Liberty gazes day and night, and O, how wonderful it was! We did
not wonder that the great French artist thought the place worthy
to be the home of his grand ideal. The glorious bay lay calm and
beautiful in the October sunshine, and the ships came and went
like idle dreams; those seaward going slowly disappeared like
clouds that change from gold to gray; those homeward coming sped
more quickly like birds that seek their mother’s nest….

The Wright-Humason School.
New York, March 15, 1895.
…I think I have improved a little in lip-reading, though I
still find it very difficult to read rapid speech; but I am sure
I shall succeed some day if I only persevere. Dr. Humason is
still trying to improve my speech. Oh, Carrie, how I should like
to speak like other people! I should be willing to work night and
day if it could only be accomplished. Think what a joy it would
be to all of my friends to hear me speak naturally!! I wonder why
it is so difficult and perplexing for a deaf child to learn to
speak when it is so easy for other people; but I am sure I shall
speak perfectly some time if I am only patient….

Although I have been so busy, I have found time to read a good
deal…. I have lately read “Wilhelm Tell” by Schiller, and “The
Lost Vestal.”… Now I am reading “Nathan the Wise” by Lessing
and “King Arthur” by Miss Mulock.

…You know our kind teachers take us to see everything which
they think will interest us, and we learn a great deal in that
delightful way. On George Washington’s birthday we all went to
the Dog Show, and although there was a great crowd in the Madison
Square Garden, and despite the bewilderment caused by the variety
of sounds made by the dog-orchestra, which was very confusing to
those who could hear them, we enjoyed the afternoon very much.
Among the dogs which received the most attention were the
bulldogs. They permitted themselves startling liberties when any
one caressed them, crowding themselves almost into one’s arms and
helping themselves without ceremony to kisses, apparently
unconscious of the impropriety of their conduct. Dear me, what
unbeautiful little beasts they are! But they are so good natured
and friendly, one cannot help liking them.

Dr. Humason, Teacher, and I left the others at the Dog Show and
went to a reception given by the “Metropolitan Club.”… It is
sometimes called the “Millionaires’ Club.” The building is
magnificent, being built of white marble; the rooms are large and
splendidly furnished; but I must confess, so much splendor is
rather oppressive to me; and I didn’t envy the millionaires in
the least all the happiness their gorgeous surroundings are
supposed to bring them….

New York, March 31, 1895.
…Teacher and I spent the afternoon at Mr. Hutton’s, and had a
most delightful time!… We met Mr. Clemens and Mr. Howells
there! I had known about them for a long time; but I had never
thought that I should see them, and talk to them; and I can
scarcely realize now that this great pleasure has been mine! But,
much as I wonder that I, only a little girl of fourteen, should
come in contact with so many distinguished people, I do realize
that I am a very happy child, and very grateful for the many
beautiful privileges I have enjoyed. The two distinguished
authors were very gentle and kind, and I could not tell which of
them I loved best. Mr. Clemens told us many entertaining stories,
and made us laugh till we cried. I only wish you could have seen
and heard him! He told us that he would go to Europe in a few
days to bring his wife and his daughter, Jeanne, back to America,
because Jeanne, who is studying in Paris, has learned so much in
three years and a half that if he did not bring her home, she
would soon know more than he did. I think Mark Twain is a very
appropriate nom de plume for Mr. Clemens because it has a funny
and quaint sound, and goes well with his amusing writings, and
its nautical significance suggests the deep and beautiful things
that he has written. I think he is very handsome indeed….
Teacher said she thought he looked something like Paradeuski. (If
that is the way to spell the name.) Mr. Howells told me a little
about Venice, which is one of his favorite cities, and spoke very
tenderly of his dear little girl, Winnifred, who is now with God.
He has another daughter, named Mildred, who knows Carrie. I might
have seen Mrs. Wiggin, the sweet author of “Birds’ Christmas
Carol,” but she had a dangerous cough and could not come. I was
much disappointed not to see her, but I hope I shall have that
pleasure some other time. Mr. Hutton gave me a lovely little
glass, shaped like a thistle, which belonged to his dear mother,
as a souvenir of my delightful visit. We also met Mr. Rogers…
who kindly left his carriage to bring us home.

When the Wright-Humason School closed for the summer, Miss
Sullivan and Helen went South.

Tuscumbia, Alabama, July 29, 1895.
…I am spending my vacation very quietly and pleasantly at my
beautiful, sunny home, with my loving parents, my darling little
sister and my small brother, Phillips My precious teacher is
with me too, and so of course I am happy I read a little, walk a
little, write a little and play with the children a great deal,
and the days slip by delightfully!…

My friends are so pleased with the improvement which I made in
speech and lip-reading last year, that it has been decided best
for me to continue my studies in New York another year I am
delighted at the prospect, of spending another year in your great
city I used to think that I should never feel “at home” in New
York, but since I have made the acquaintance of so many people,
and can look back to such a bright and successful winter there, I
find myself looking forward to next year, and anticipating still
brighter and better times in the Metropolis

Please give my kindest love to Mr Hutton, and Mrs Riggs and Mr
Warner too, although I have never had the pleasure of knowing him
personally As I listen Venicewards, I hear Mr Hutton’s pen
dancing over the pages of his new book It is a pleasant sound
because it is full of promise How much I shall enjoy reading it!

Please pardon me, my dear Mrs Hutton, for sending you a
typewritten letter across the ocean I have tried several times
to write with a pencil on my little writing machine since I came
home; but I have found it very difficult to do so on account of
the heat The moisture of my hand soils and blurs the paper so
dreadfully, that I am compelled to use my typewriter altogether
And it is not my “Remington” either, but a naughty little thing
that gets out of order on the slightest provocation, and cannot
be induced to make a period…

New York, October 16, 1895.
Here we are once more in the great metropolis! We left Hulton
Friday night and arrived here Saturday morning. Our friends were
greatly surprised to see us, as they had not expected us before
the last of this month. I rested Saturday afternoon, for I was
very tired, and Sunday I visited with my schoolmates, and now
that I feel quite rested, I am going to write to you; for I know
you will want to hear that we reached New York safely. We had to
change cars at Philadelphia; but we did not mind it much. After
we had had our breakfast, Teacher asked one of the train-men in
the station if the New York train was made up. He said no, it
would not be called for about fifteen minutes; so we sat down to
wait; but in a moment the man came back and asked Teacher if we
would like to go to the train at once. She said we would, and he
took us way out on the track and put us on board our train. Thus
we avoided the rush and had a nice quiet visit before the train
started. Was that not very kind? So it always is. Some one is
ever ready to scatter little acts of kindness along our pathway,
making it smooth and pleasant…

We had a quiet but very pleasant time in Hulton. Mr. Wade is just
as dear and good as ever! He has lately had several books printed
in England for me, “Old Mortality,” “The Castle of Otranto” and
“King of No-land.”…

New York, December 29, 1895.
…Teacher and I have been very gay of late. We have seen our
kind friends, Mrs. Dodge, Mr. and Mrs. Hutton, Mrs. Riggs and her
husband, and met many distinguished people, among whom were Miss
Ellen Terry, Sir Henry Irving and Mr. Stockton! Weren’t we very
fortunate? Miss Terry was lovely. She kissed Teacher and said, “I
do not know whether I am glad to see you or not; for I feel so
ashamed of myself when I think of how much you have done for the
little girl.” We also met Mr. and Mrs. Terry, Miss Terry’s
brother and his wife. I thought her beauty angellic, and oh, what
a clear, beautiful voice she had! We saw Miss Terry again with
Sir Henry in “King Charles the First,” a week ago last Friday,
and after the play they kindly let me feel of them and get an
idea of how they looked. How noble and kingly the King was,
especially in his misfortunes! And how pretty and faithful the
poor Queen was! The play seemed so real, we almost forgot where
we were, and believed we were watching the genuine scenes as they
were acted so long ago. The last act affected us most deeply, and
we all wept, wondering how the executioner could have the heart
to tear the King from his loving wife’s arms.

I have just finished reading “Ivanhoe.” It was very exciting; but
I must say I did not enjoy it very much. Sweet Rebecca, with her
strong, brave spirit, and her pure, generous nature, was the only
character which thoroughly won my admiration. Now I am reading
“Stories from Scottish History,” and they are very thrilling and

The next two letters were written just after the death of Mr.
John P. Spaulding.

New York, February 4, 1896.
What can I say which will make you understand how much Teacher
and I appreciate your thoughtful kindness in sending us those
little souvenirs of the dear room where we first met the best and
kindest of friends? Indeed, you can never know all the comfort
you have given us. We have put the dear picture on the
mantel-piece in our room where we can see it every day, and I
often go and touch it, and somehow I cannot help feeling that our
beloved friend is very near to me…. It was very hard to take up
our school work again, as if nothing had happened; but I am sure
it is well that we have duties which must be done, and which take
our minds away for a time at least from our sorrow….

New York, March 2nd, 1896.
…We miss dear King John sadly. It was so hard to lose him, he
was the best and kindest of friends, and I do not know what we
shall do without him….

We went to a poultry-show… and the man there kindly permitted
us to feel of the birds. They were so tame, they stood perfectly
still when I handled them. I saw great big turkeys, geese,
guineas, ducks and many others.

Almost two weeks ago we called at Mr. Hutton’s and had a
delightful time. We always do! We met Mr. Warner, the writer, Mr.
Mabie, the editor of the Outlook and other pleasant people. I am
sure you would like to know Mr. and Mrs. Hutton, they are so kind
and interesting. I can never tell you how much pleasure they have
given us.

Mr. Warner and Mr. Burroughs, the great lover of nature, came to
see us a few days after, and we had a delightful talk with them.
They were both very, very dear! Mr. Burroughs told me about his
home near the Hudson, and what a happy place it must be! I hope
we shall visit it some day. Teacher has read me his lively
stories about his boyhood, and I enjoyed them greatly. Have you
read the beautiful poem, “Waiting”? I know it, and it makes me
feel so happy, it has such sweet thoughts. Mr. Warner showed me a
scarf-pin with a beetle on it which was made in Egypt fifteen
hundred years before Christ, and told me that the beetle meant
immortality to the Egyptians because it wrapped itself up and
went to sleep and came out again in a new form, thus renewing

New York, April 25, 1896.
…My studies are the same as they were when I saw you, except
that I have taken up French with a French teacher who comes three
times a week. I read her lips almost exclusively, (she does not
know the manual alphabet) and we get on quite well. I have read
“Le Medecin Malgre Lui,” a very good French comedy by Moliere,
with pleasure; and they say I speak French pretty well now, and
German also. Anyway, French and German people understand what I
am trying to say, and that is very encouraging. In voice-training
I have still the same old difficulties to contend against; and
the fulfilment of my wish to speak well seems O, so far away!
Sometimes I feel sure that I catch a faint glimpse of the goal I
am striving for, but in another minute a bend in the road hides
it from my view, and I am again left wandering in the dark! But I
try hard not to be discouraged. Surely we shall all find at last
the ideals we are seeking….

Brewster, Mass. July 15, 1896.
…As to the book, I am sure I shall enjoy it very much when I am
admitted, by the magic of Teacher’s dear fingers, into the
companionship of the two sisters who went to the Immortal

As I sit by the window writing to you, it is so lovely to have
the soft, cool breezes fan my cheek and to feel that the hard
work of last year is over! Teacher seems to feel benefitted by
the change too; for she is already beginning to look like her
dear old self. We only need you, dear Mr. Hitz, to complete our
happiness. Teacher and Mrs. Hopkins both say you must come as
soon as you can! We will try to make you comfortable.

Teacher and I spent nine days at Philadelphia. Have you ever been
at Dr. Crouter’s Institution? Mr. Howes has probably given you a
full account of our doings. We were busy all the time; we
attended the meetings and talked with hundreds of people, among
whom were dear Dr. Bell, Mr. Banerji of Calcutta, Monsieur Magnat
of Paris with whom I conversed in French exclusively, and many
other distinguished persons. We had looked forward to seeing you
there, and so we were greatly disappointed that you did not come.
We think of you so, so often! and our hearts go out to you in
tenderest sympathy; and you know better than this poor letter can
tell you how happy we always are to have you with us! I made a
“speech” on July eighth, telling the members of the Association
what an unspeakable blessing speech has been to me, and urging
them to give every little deaf child an opportunity to learn to
speak. Every one said I spoke very well and intelligibly. After
my little “speech,” we attended a reception at which over six
hundred people were present. I must confess I do not like such
large receptions; the people crowd so, and we have to do so much
talking; and yet it is at receptions like the one in Philadelphia
that we often meet friends whom we learn to love afterwards. We
left the city last Thursday night, and arrived in Brewster Friday
afternoon. We missed the Cape Cod train Friday morning, and so we
came down to Provincetown in the steamer Longfellow. I am glad we
did so; for it was lovely and cool on the water, and Boston
Harbor is always interesting.

We spent about three weeks in Boston, after leaving New York, and
I need not tell you we had a most delightful time. We visited our
good friends, Mr. and Mrs. Chamberlin, at Wrentham, out in the
country, where they have a lovely home. Their house stands near a
charming lake where we went boating and canoeing, which was great
fun. We also went in bathing several times. Mr. and Mrs.
Chamberlin celebrated the 17th of June by giving a picnic to
their literary friends. There were about forty persons present,
all of whom were writers and publishers. Our friend, Mr. Alden,
the editor of Harper’s was there, and of course we enjoyed his
society very much….

Brewster, Mass., September 3, 1896.
…I have been meaning to write to you all summer; there were
many things I wanted to tell you, and I thought perhaps you would
like to hear about our vacation by the seaside, and our plans for
next year; but the happy, idle days slipped away so quickly, and
there were so many pleasant things to do every moment, that I
never found time to clothe my thought in words, and send them to
you. I wonder what becomes of lost opportunities. Perhaps our
guardian angel gathers them up as we drop them, and will give
them back to us in the beautiful sometime when we have grown
wiser, and learned how to use them rightly. But, however this may
be, I cannot now write the letter which has lain in my thought
for you so long. My heart is too full of sadness to dwell upon
the happiness the summer has brought me. My father is dead. He
died last Saturday at my home in Tuscumbia, and I was not there.
My own dear loving father! Oh, dear friend, how shall I ever bear

On the first of October Miss Keller entered the Cambridge School
for Young Ladies, of which Mr. Arthur Gilman is Principal. The
“examinations” mentioned in this letter were merely tests given
in the school, but as they were old Harvard papers, it is evident
that in some subjects Miss Keller was already fairly well
prepared for Radcliffe.

37 Concord Avenue, Cambridge, Mass.
October 8, 1896.
…I got up early this morning, so that I could write you a few
lines. I know you want to hear how I like my school. I do wish
you could come and see for yourself what a beautiful school it
is! There are about a hundred girls, and they are all so bright
and happy; it is a joy to be with them.

You will be glad to hear that I passed my examinations
successfully. I have been examined in English, German, French,
and Greek and Roman history. They were the entrance examinations
for Harvard College; so I feel pleased to think I could pass
them. This year is going to be a very busy one for Teacher and
myself. I am studying Arithmetic, English Literature, English
History, German, Latin, and advanced geography; there is a great
deal of preparatory reading required, and, as few of the books
are in raised print, poor Teacher has to spell them all out to
me; and that means hard work.

You must tell Mr. Howells when you see him, that we are living in
his house….

37 Concord Avenue, Cambridge, Mass.,
December 2, 1896.
…It takes me a long time to prepare my lessons, because I have
to have every word of them spelled out in my hand. Not one of the
textbooks which I am obliged to use is in raised print; so of
course my work is harder than it would be if I could read my
lessons over by myself. But it is harder for Teacher than it is
for me because the strain on her poor eyes is so great, and I
cannot help worrying about them. Sometimes it really seems as if
the task which we have set ourselves were more than we can
accomplish; but at other times I enjoy my work more than I can

It is such a delight to be with the other girls, and do
everything that they do. I study Latin, German, Arithmetic and
English History, all of which I enjoy except Arithmetic. I am
afraid I have not a mathematical mind; for my figures always
manage to get into the wrong places!…

Cambridge, Mass., May 3, 1897.
…You know I am trying very hard to get through with the reading
for the examinations in June, and this, in addition to my regular
schoolwork keeps me awfully busy. But Johnson, and “The Plague”
and everything else must wait a few minutes this afternoon, while
I say, thank you, my dear Mrs. Hutton….

…What a splendid time we had at the “Players’ Club.” I always
thought clubs were dull, smoky places, where men talked politics,
and told endless stories, all about themselves and their
wonderful exploits: but now I see, I must have been quite

Wrentham, Mass. July 9, 1897.
…Teacher and I are going to spend the summer at Wrentham, Mass.
with our friends, the Chamberlins. I think you remember Mr.
Chamberlin, the “Listener” in the Boston Transcript. They are
dear, kind people….

But I know you want to hear about my examinations. I know that
you will be glad to hear that I passed all of them successfully.
The subjects I offered were elementary and advanced German,
French, Latin, English, and Greek and Roman History. It seems
almost too good to be true, does it not? All the time I was
preparing for the great ordeal, I could not suppress an inward
fear and trembling lest I should fail, and now it is an
unspeakable relief to know that I have passed the examinations
with credit. But what I consider my crown of success is the
happiness and pleasure that my victory has brought dear Teacher.
Indeed, I feel that the success is hers more than mine; for she
is my constant inspiration….

At the end of September Miss Sullivan and Miss Keller returned to
the Cambridge School, where they remained until early in
December. Then the interference of Mr. Gilman resulted in Mrs.
Keller’s withdrawing Miss Helen and her sister, Miss Mildred,
from the school. Miss Sullivan and her pupil went to Wrentham,
where they worked under Mr. Merton S. Keith, an enthusiastic and
skilful teacher.

Wrentham, February 20, 1898.
…I resumed my studies soon after your departure, and in a very
little while we were working as merrily as if the dreadful
experience of a month ago had been but a dream. I cannot tell you
how much I enjoy the country. It is so fresh, and peaceful and
free! I do think I could work all day long without feeling tired
if they would let me. There are so many pleasant things to
do—not always very easy things,—much of my work in Algebra and
Geometry is hard: but I love it all, especially Greek. Just
think, I shall soon finish my grammar! Then comes the “Iliad.”
What an inexpressible joy it will be to read about Achilles, and
Ulysses, and Andromache and Athene, and the rest of my old
friends in their own glorious language! I think Greek is the
loveliest language that I know anything about. If it is true that
the violin is the most perfect of musical instruments, then Greek
is the violin of human thought.

We have had some splendid toboganning this month. Every morning,
before lesson-time, we all go out to the steep hill on the
northern shore of the lake near the house, and coast for an hour
or so. Some one balances the toboggan on the very crest of the
hill, while we get on, and when we are ready, off we dash down
the side of the hill in a headlong rush, and, leaping a
projection, plunge into a snow-drift and go swimming far across
the pond at a tremendous rate!…

[Wrentham] April 12, 1898.
…I am glad Mr. Keith is so well pleased with my progress. It is
true that Algebra and Geometry are growing easier all the time,
especially algebra; and I have just received books in raised
print which will greatly facilitate my work….

I find I get on faster, and do better work with Mr. Keith than I
did in the classes at the Cambridge School, and I think it was
well that I gave up that kind of work. At any rate, I have not
been idle since I left school; I have accomplished more, and been
happier than I could have been there….

[Wrentham] May 29, 1898.
…My work goes on bravely. Each day is filled to the brim with
hard study; for I am anxious to accomplish as much as possible
before I put away my books for the summer vacation. You will be
pleased to hear that I did three problems in Geometry yesterday
without assistance. Mr. Keith and Teacher were quite enthusiastic
over the achievement, and I must confess, I felt somewhat elated
myself. Now I feel as if I should succeed in doing something in
mathematics, although I cannot see why it is so very important to
know that the lines drawn from the extremities of the base of an
isosceles triangle to the middle points of the opposite sides are
equal! The knowledge doesn’t make life any sweeter or happier,
does it? On the other hand, when we learn a new word, it is the
key to untold treasures….

Wrentham, Mass., June 7, 1898.
I am afraid you will conclude that I am not very anxious for a
tandem after all, since I have let nearly a week pass without
answering your letter in regard to the kind of wheel I should
like. But really, I have been so constantly occupied with my
studies since we returned from New York, that I have not had time
even to think of the fun it would be to have a bicycle! You see,
I am anxious to accomplish as much as possible before the long
summer vacation begins. I am glad, though, that it is nearly time
to put away my books; for the sunshine and flowers, and the
lovely lake in front of our house are doing their best to tempt
me away from my Greek and Mathematics, especially from the
latter! I am sure the daisies and buttercups have as little use
for the science of Geometry as I, in spite of the fact that they
so beautifully illustrate its principles.

But bless me, I mustn’t forget the tandem! The truth is, I know
very little about bicycles. I have only ridden a “sociable,”
which is very different from the ordinary tandem. The “sociable”
is safer, perhaps, than the tandem; but it is very heavy and
awkward, and has a way of taking up the greater part of the road.
Besides, I have been told that “sociables” cost more than other
kinds of bicycles. My teacher and other friends think I could
ride a Columbia tandem in the country with perfect safety. They
also think your suggestion about a fixed handlebar a good one. I
ride with a divided skirt, and so does my teacher; but it would
be easier for her to mount a man’s wheel than for me; so, if it
could be arranged to have the ladies’ seat behind, I think it
would be better….

Wrentham, September 11, 1898.
…I am out of doors all the time, rowing, swimming, riding and
doing a multitude of other pleasant things. This morning I rode
over twelve miles on my tandem! I rode on a rough road, and fell
off three or four times, and am now awfully lame! But the weather
and the scenery were so beautiful, and it was such fun to go
scooting over the smoother part of the road, I didn’t mind the
mishaps in the least.

I have really learned to swim and dive—after a fashion! I can
swim a little under water, and do almost anything I like, without
fear of getting drowned! Isn’t that fine? It is almost no effort
for me to row around the lake, no matter how heavy the load may
be. So you can well imagine how strong and brown I am….

12 Newbury Street, Boston,
October 23, 1898.
This is the first opportunity I have had to write to you since we
came here last Monday. We have been in such a whirl ever since we
decided to come to Boston; it seemed as if we should never get
settled. Poor Teacher has had her hands full, attending to
movers, and express-men, and all sorts of people. I wish it were
not such a bother to move, especially as we have to do it so

…Mr. Keith comes here at half past three every day except
Saturday. He says he prefers to come here for the present. I am
reading the “Iliad,” and the “Aeneid” and Cicero, besides doing a
lot in Geometry and Algebra. The “Iliad” is beautiful with all
the truth, and grace and simplicity of a wonderfully childlike
people while the “Aeneid” is more stately and reserved. It is
like a beautiful maiden, who always lived in a palace, surrounded
by a magnificent court; while the “Iliad” is like a splendid
youth, who has had the earth for his playground.

The weather has been awfully dismal all the week; but to-day is
beautiful, and our room floor is flooded with sunlight. By and by
we shall take a little walk in the Public Gardens. I wish the
Wrentham woods were round the corner! But alas! they are not, and
I shall have to content myself with a stroll in the Gardens.
Somehow, after the great fields and pastures and lofty
pine-groves of the country, they seem shut-in and conventional.
Even the trees seem citified and self-conscious. Indeed, I doubt
if they are on speaking terms with their country cousins! Do you
know, I cannot help feeling sorry for these trees with all their
fashionable airs? They are like the people whom they see every
day, who prefer the crowded, noisy city to the quiet and freedom
of the country. They do not even suspect how circumscribed their
lives are. They look down pityingly on the country-folk, who have
never had an opportunity “to see the great world.” Oh my! if they
only realized their limitations, they would flee for their lives
to the woods and fields. But what nonsense is this! You will
think I’m pining away for my beloved Wrentham, which is true in
one sense and not in another. I do miss Red Farm and the dear
ones there dreadfully; but I am not unhappy. I have Teacher and
my books, and I have the certainty that something sweet and good
will come to me in this great city, where human beings struggle
so bravely all their lives to wring happiness from cruel
circumstances. Anyway, I am glad to have my share in life,
whether it be bright or sad….

Boston, December 6th, 1898.
My teacher and I had a good laugh over the girls’ frolic. How
funny they must have looked in their “rough-rider” costumes,
mounted upon their fiery steeds! “Slim” would describe them, if
they were anything like the saw-horses I have seen. What jolly
times they must have at—! I cannot help wishing sometimes that
I could have some of the fun that other girls have. How quickly I
should lock up all these mighty warriors, and hoary sages, and
impossible heroes, who are now almost my only companions; and
dance and sing and frolic like other girls! But I must not waste
my time wishing idle wishes; and after all my ancient friends are
very wise and interesting, and I usually enjoy their society very
much indeed. It is only once in a great while that I feel
discontented, and allow myself to wish for things I cannot hope
for in this life. But, as you know, my heart is usually brimful
of happiness. The thought that my dear Heavenly Father is always
near, giving me abundantly of all those things, which truly
enrich life and make it sweet and beautiful, makes every
deprivation seem of little moment compared with the countless
blessings I enjoy.

12 Newbury Street, Boston,
December 19th, 1898.
…I realize now what a selfish, greedy girl I was to ask that my
cup of happiness should be filled to overflowing, without
stopping to think how many other people’s cups were quite empty.
I feel heartily ashamed of my thoughtlessness. One of the
childish illusions, which it has been hardest for me to get rid
of, is that we have only to make our wishes known in order to
have them granted. But I am slowly learning that there is not
happiness enough in the world for everyone to have all that he
wants; and it grieves me to think that I should have forgotten,
even for a moment, that I already have more than my share, and
that like poor little Oliver Twist I should have asked for

12 Newberry Street, Boston.
December 22, 1898

…I suppose Mr. Keith writes you the work-a-day news. If so, you
know that I have finished all the geometry, and nearly all the
Algebra required for the Harvard examinations, and after
Christmas I shall begin a very careful review of both subjects.
You will be glad to hear that I enjoy Mathematics now. Why, I can
do long, complicated quadratic equations in my head quite easily,
and it is great fun! I think Mr. Keith is a wonderful teacher,
and I feel very grateful to him for having made me see the beauty
of Mathematics. Next to my own dear teacher, he has done more
than any one else to enrich and broaden my mind.

12 Newbury Street, Boston,
January 17, 1899.
…Have you seen Kipling’s “Dreaming True,” or “Kitchener’s
School?” It is a very strong poem and set me dreaming too. Of
course you have read about the “Gordon Memorial College,” which
the English people are to erect at Khartoum. While I was thinking
over the blessings that would come to the people of Egypt through
this college, and eventually to England herself, there came into
my heart the strong desire that my own dear country should in a
similar way convert the terrible loss of her brave sons on the
“Maine” into a like blessing to the people of Cuba. Would a
college at Havana not be the noblest and most enduring monument
that could be raised to the brave men of the “Maine,” as well as
a source of infinite good to all concerned? Imagine entering the
Havana harbor, and having the pier, where the “Maine” was
anchored on that dreadful night, when she was so mysteriously
destroyed, pointed out to you, and being told that the great,
beautiful building overlooking the spot was the “Maine Memorial
College,” erected by the American people, and having for its
object the education both of Cubans and Spaniards! What a
glorious triumph such a monument would be of the best and highest
instincts of a Christian nation! In it there would be no
suggestion of hatred or revenge, nor a trace of the old-time
belief that might makes right. On the other hand, it would be a
pledge to the world that we intend to stand by our declaration of
war, and give Cuba to the Cubans, as soon as we have fitted them
to assume the duties and responsibilities of a self-governing

12 Newbury Street, Boston,
February 3, 1899.
…I had an exceedingly interesting experience last Monday. A
kind friend took me over in the morning to the Boston Art Museum.
She had previously obtained permission from General Loring, Supt.
of the Museum, for me to touch the statues, especially those
which represented my old friends in the “Iliad” and “Aeneid.” Was
that not lovely? While I was there, General Loring himself came
in, and showed me some of the most beautiful statues, among which
were the Venus of Medici, the Minerva of the Parthenon, Diana, in
her hunting costume, with her hand on the quiver and a doe by her
side, and the unfortunate Laocoon and his two little sons,
struggling in the fearful coils of two huge serpents, and
stretching their arms to the skies with heart-rending cries. I
also saw Apollo Belvidere. He had just slain the Python and was
standing by a great pillar of rock, extending his graceful hand
in triumph over the terrible snake. Oh, he was simply beautiful!
Venus entranced me. She looked as if she had just risen from the
foam of the sea, and her loveliness was like a strain of heavenly
music. I also saw poor Niobe with her youngest child clinging
close to her while she implored the cruel goddess not to kill her
last darling. I almost cried, it was all so real and tragic.
General Loring kindly showed me a copy of one of the wonderful
bronze doors of the Baptistry of Florence, and I felt of the
graceful pillars, resting on the backs of fierce lions. So you
see, I had a foretaste of the pleasure which I hope some day to
have of visiting Florence. My friend said, she would sometime
show me the copies of the marbles brought away by Lord Elgin from
the Parthenon. But somehow, I should prefer to see the originals
in the place where Genius meant them to remain, not only as a
hymn of praise to the gods, but also as a monument of the glory
of Greece. It really seems wrong to snatch such sacred things
away from the sanctuary of the Past where they belong….

Boston, February 19th, 1899.
Why, bless you, I thought I wrote to you the day after the
“Eclogues” arrived, and told you how glad I was to have them!
Perhaps you never got that letter. At any rate, I thank you, dear
friend, for taking such a world of trouble for me. You will be
glad to hear that the books from England are coming now. I
already have the seventh and eighth books of the “Aeneid” and one
book of the “Iliad,” all of which is most fortunate, as I have
come almost to the end of my embossed text-books.

It gives me great pleasure to hear how much is being done for the
deaf-blind. The more I learn of them, the more kindness I find.
Why, only a little while ago people thought it quite impossible
to teach the deaf-blind anything; but no sooner was it proved
possible than hundreds of kind, sympathetic hearts were fired
with the desire to help them, and now we see how many of those
poor, unfortunate persons are being taught to see the beauty and
reality of life. Love always finds its way to an imprisoned soul,
and leads it out into the world of freedom and intelligence!

As to the two-handed alphabet, I think it is much easier for
those who have sight than the manual alphabet; for most of the
letters look like the large capitals in books; but I think when
it comes to teaching a deaf-blind person to spell, the manual
alphabet is much more convenient, and less conspicuous….

12 Newbury Street, Boston,
March 5, 1899.
…I am now sure that I shall be ready for my examinations in
June. There is but one cloud in my sky at present; but that is
one which casts a dark shadow over my life, and makes me very
anxious at times. My teacher’s eyes are no better: indeed, I
think they grow more troublesome, though she is very brave and
patient, and will not give up. But it is most distressing to me
to feel that she is sacrificing her sight for me. I feel as if I
ought to give up the idea of going to college altogether: for not
all the knowledge in the world could make me happy, if obtained
at such a cost. I do wish, Mrs. Hutton, you would try to persuade
Teacher to take a rest, and have her eyes treated. She will not
listen to me.

I have just had some pictures taken, and if they are good, I
would like to send one to Mr. Rogers, if you think he would like
to have it. I would like so much to show him in some way how
deeply I appreciate all that he is doing for me, and I cannot
think of anything better to do.

Every one here is talking about the Sargent pictures. It is a
wonderful exhibition of portraits, they say. How I wish I had
eyes to see them! How I should delight in their beauty and color!
However, I am glad that I am not debarred from all pleasure in
the pictures. I have at least the satisfaction of seeing them
through the eyes of my friends, which is a real pleasure. I am so
thankful that I can rejoice in the beauties, which my friends
gather and put into my hands!

We are all so glad and thankful that Mr. Kipling did not die! I
have his “Jungle-Book” in raised print, and what a splendid,
refreshing book it is! I cannot help feeling as if I knew its
gifted author. What a real, manly, lovable nature his must be!…

12 Newbury Street, Boston,
May 8, 1899.
…Each day brings me all that I can possibly accomplish, and
each night brings me rest, and the sweet thought that I am a
little nearer to my goal than ever before. My Greek progresses
finely. I have finished the ninth book of the “Iliad” and am just
beginning the “Odyssey.” I am also reading the “Aeneid” and the
“Eclogues.” Some of my friends tell me that I am very foolish to
give so much time to Greek and Latin; but I am sure they would
not think so, if they realized what a wonderful world of
experience and thought Homer and Virgil have opened up to me. I
think I shall enjoy the “Odyssey” most of all. The “Iliad” tells
of almost nothing but war, and one sometimes wearies of the clash
of spears and the din of battle; but the “Odyssey” tells of
nobler courage—the courage of a soul sore tried, but steadfast
to the end. I often wonder, as I read these splendid poems why,
at the same time that Homer’s songs of war fired the Greeks with
valor, his songs of manly virtue did not have a stronger
influence upon the spiritual life of the people. Perhaps the
reason is, that thoughts truly great are like seeds cast into the
human mind, and either lie there unnoticed, or are tossed about
and played with, like toys, until, grown wise through suffering
and experience, a race discovers and cultivates them. Then the
world has advanced one step in its heavenward march.

I am working very hard just now. I intend to take my examinations
in June, and there is a great deal to be done, before I shall
feel ready to meet the ordeal….

You will be glad to hear that my mother, and little sister and
brother are coming north to spend this summer with me. We shall
all live together in a small cottage on one of the lakes at
Wrentham, while my dear teacher takes a much needed rest. She has
not had a vacation for twelve years, think of it, and all that
time she has been the sunshine of my life. Now her eyes are
troubling her a great deal, and we all think she ought to be
relieved, for a while, of every care and responsibility. But we
shall not be quite separated; we shall see each other every day,
I hope. And, when July comes, you can think of me as rowing my
dear ones around the lovely lake in the little boat you gave me,
the happiest girl in the world!…

[Boston] May 28th 1899.

…We have had a hard day. Mr. Keith was here for three hours
this afternoon, pouring a torrent of Latin and Greek into my poor
bewildered brain. I really believe he knows more Latin and Greek
Grammar than Cicero or Homer ever dreamed of! Cicero is splendid,
but his orations are very difficult to translate. I feel ashamed
sometimes, when I make that eloquent man say what sounds absurd
or insipid; but how is a school-girl to interpret such genius?
Why, I should have to be a Cicero to talk like a Cicero!…

Linnie Haguewood is a deaf-blind girl, one of the many whom Mr.
William Wade has helped. She is being educated by Miss Dora
Donald who, at the beginning of her work with her pupil, was
supplied by Mr. Hitz, Superintendent of the Volta Bureau, with
copies of all documents relating to Miss Sullivan’s work with
Miss Keller.

Wrentham, Mass., June 5, 1899.
…Linnie Haguewood’s letter, which you sent me some weeks ago,
interested me very much. It seemed to show spontaneity and great
sweetness of character. I was a good deal amused by what she said
about history. I am sorry she does not enjoy it; but I too feel
sometimes how dark, and mysterious and even fearful the history
of old peoples, old religions and old forms of government really

Well, I must confess, I do not like the sign-language, and I do
not think it would be of much use to the deaf-blind. I find it
very difficult to follow the rapid motions made by the
deaf-mutes, and besides, signs seem a great hindrance to them in
acquiring the power of using language easily and freely. Why, I
find it hard to understand them sometimes when they spell on
their fingers. On the whole, if they cannot be taught
articulation, the manual alphabet seems the best and most
convenient means of communication. At any rate, I am sure the
deaf-blind cannot learn to use signs with any degree of facility.

The other day, I met a deaf Norwegian gentleman, who knows
Ragnhild Kaata and her teacher very well, and we had a very
interesting conversation about her. He said she was very
industrious and happy. She spins, and does a great deal of fancy
work, and reads, and leads a pleasant, useful life. Just think,
she cannot use the manual alphabet! She reads the lips well, and
if she cannot understand a phrase, her friends write it in her
hand, and in this way she converses with strangers. I cannot make
out anything written in my hand, so you see, Ragnhild has got
ahead of me in some things. I do hope I shall see her sometime…

Wrentham, July 29, 1899.
…I passed in all the subjects I offered, and with credit in
advanced Latin…. But I must confess, I had a hard time on the
second day of my examinations. They would not allow Teacher to
read any of the papers to me; so the papers were copied for me in
braille. This arrangement worked very well in the languages, but
not nearly so well in the Mathematics. Consequently, I did not do
so well as I should have done, if Teacher had been allowed to
read the Algebra and Geometry to me. But you must not think I
blame any one. Of course they did not realize how difficult and
perplexing they were making the examinations for me. How could
they—they can see and hear, and I suppose they could not
understand matters from my point of view….

Thus far my summer has been sweeter than anything I can remember.
My mother, and sister and little brother have been here five
weeks, and our happiness knows no bounds. Not only do we enjoy
being together; but we also find our little home most delightful.
I do wish you could see the view of the beautiful lake from our
piazza, the islands looking like little emerald peaks in the
golden sunlight, and the canoes flitting here and there, like
autumn leaves in the gentle breeze, and breathe in the peculiarly
delicious fragrance of the woods, which comes like a murmur from
an unknown clime. I cannot help wondering if it is the same
fragrance that greeted the Norsemen long ago, when, according to
tradition, they visited our shores—an odorous echo of many
centuries of silent growth and decay in flower and tree….

Wrentham, October 20, 1899.
…I suppose it is time for me to tell you something about our
plans for the winter. You know it has long been my ambition to go
to Radcliffe, and receive a degree, as many other girls have
done; but Dean Irwin of Radcliffe, has persuaded me to take a
special course for the present. She said I had already shown the
world that I could do the college work, by passing all my
examinations successfully, in spite of many obstacles. She showed
me how very foolish it would be for me to pursue a four years’
course of study at Radcliffe, simply to be like other girls, when
I might better be cultivating whatever ability I had for writing.
She said she did not consider a degree of any real value, but
thought it was much more desirable to do something original than
to waste one’s energies only for a degree. Her arguments seemed
so wise and practical, that I could not but yield. I found it
hard, very hard, to give up the idea of going to college; it had
been in my mind ever since I was a little girl; but there is no
use doing a foolish thing, because one has wanted to do it a long
time, is there?

But, while we were discussing plans for the winter, a suggestion
which Dr. Hale had made long ago flashed across Teacher’s
mind—that I might take courses somewhat like those offered at
Radcliffe, under the instruction of the professors in these
courses. Miss Irwin seemed to have no objection to this proposal,
and kindly offered to see the professors and find out if they
would give me lessons. If they will be so good as to teach me and
if we have money enough to do as we have planned, my studies this
year will be English, English Literature of the Elizabethan
period, Latin and German….

138 Brattle St., Cambridge,
Nov. 11, 1899.
…As to the braille question, I cannot tell how deeply it
distresses me to hear that my statement with regard to the
examinations has been doubted. Ignorance seems to be at the
bottom of all these contradictions. Why, you yourself seem to
think that I taught you American braille, when you do not know a
single letter in the system! I could not help laughing when you
said you had been writing to me in American braille—and there
you were writing your letter in English braille!

The facts about the braille examinations are as follows:

How I passed my Entrance Examinations for Radcliffe College.

On the 29th and 30th of June, 1899, I took my examinations for
Radcliffe College. The first day I had elementary Greek and
advanced Latin, and the second day Geometry, Algebra and advanced

The college authorities would not permit Miss Sullivan to read
the examination papers to me; so Mr. Eugene C. Vining, one of the
instructors at the Perkins Institution for the Blind, was
employed to copy the papers for me in braille. Mr. Vining was a
perfect stranger to me, and could not communicate with me except
by writing in braille. The Proctor also was a stranger, and did
not attempt to communicate with me in any way; and, as they were
both unfamiliar with my speech, they could not readily understand
what I said to them.

However, the braille worked well enough in the languages; but
when it came to Geometry and Algebra, it was different. I was
sorely perplexed, and felt quite discouraged, and wasted much
precious time, especially in Algebra. It is true that I am
perfectly familiar with all literary braille—English, American,
and New York Point; but the method of writing the various signs
used in Geometry and Algebra in the three systems is very
different, and two days before the examinations I knew only the
English method. I had used it all through my school work, and
never any other system.

In Geometry, my chief difficulty was, that I had always been
accustomed to reading the propositions in Line Print, or having
them spelled into my hand; and somehow, although the propositions
were right before me, yet the braille confused me, and I could
not fix in my mind clearly what I was reading. But, when I took
up Algebra, I had a harder time still—I was terribly handicapped
by my imperfect knowledge of the notation. The signs, which I had
learned the day before, and which I thought I knew perfectly,
confused me. Consequently my work was painfully slow, and I was
obliged to read the examples over and over before I could form a
clear idea what I was required to do. Indeed, I am not sure now
that I read all the signs correctly, especially as I was much
distressed, and found it very hard to keep my wits about me….

Now there is one more fact, which I wish to state very plainly,
in regard to what Mr. Gilman wrote to you. I never received any
direct instruction in the Gilman School. Miss Sullivan always sat
beside me, and told me what the teachers said. I did teach Miss
Hall, my teacher in Physics, how to write the American braille,
but she never gave me any instruction by means of it, unless a
few problems written for practice, which made me waste much
precious time deciphering them, can be called instruction. Dear
Frau Grote learned the manual alphabet, and used to teach me
herself; but this was in private lessons, which were paid for by
my friends. In the German class Miss Sullivan interpreted to me
as well as she could what the teacher said.

Perhaps, if you would send a copy of this to the head of the
Cambridge School, it might enlighten his mind on a few subjects,
on which he seems to be in total darkness just now….

138 Brattle Street, Cambridge,
November 26, 1899.
…At last we are settled for the winter, and our work is going
smoothly. Mr. Keith comes every afternoon at four o’clock, and
gives me a “friendly lift” over the rough stretches of road, over
which every student must go. I am studying English history,
English literature, French and Latin, and by and by I shall take
up German and English composition—let us groan! You know, I
detest grammar as much as you do; but I suppose I must go through
it if I am to write, just as we had to get ducked in the lake
hundreds of times before we could swim! In French Teacher is
reading “Columba” to me. It is a delightful novel, full of
piquant expressions and thrilling adventures, (don’t dare to
blame me for using big words, since you do the same!) and, if you
ever read it, I think you will enjoy it immensely. You are
studying English history, aren’t you. O but it’s exceedingly
interesting! I’m making quite a thorough study of the Elizabethan
period—of the Reformation, and the Acts of Supremacy and
Conformity, and the maritime discoveries, and all the big things,
which the “deuce” seems to have invented to plague innocent
youngsters like yourself!…

Now we have a swell winter outfit—coats, hats, gowns, flannels
and all. We’ve just had four lovely dresses made by a French
dressmaker. I have two, of which one has a black silk skirt, with
a black lace net over it, and a waist of white poplin, with
turquoise velvet and chiffon, and cream lace over a satin yoke.
The other is woollen, and of a very pretty green. The waist is
trimmed with pink and green brocaded velvet, and white lace, I
think, and has double reefers on the front, tucked and trimmed
with velvet, and also a row of tiny white buttons. Teacher too
has a silk dress. The skirt is black, while the waist is mostly
yellow, trimmed with delicate lavender chiffon, and black velvet
bows and lace. Her other dress is purple, trimmed with purple
velvet, and the waist has a collar of cream lace. So you may
imagine that we look quite like peacocks, only we’ve no

A week ago yesterday there was [a] great football game between
Harvard and Yale, and there was tremendous excitement here. We
could hear the yells of the boys and the cheers of the lookers-on
as plainly in our room as if we had been on the field. Colonel
Roosevelt was there, on Harvard’s side; but bless you, he wore a
white sweater, and no crimson that we know of! There were about
twenty-five thousand people at the game, and, when we went out,
the noise was so terrific, we nearly jumped out of our skins,
thinking it was the din of war, and not of a football game that
we heard. But, in spite of all their wild efforts, neither side
was scored, and we all laughed and said, “Oh, well now the pot
can’t call the kettle black!”…

559 Madison Avenue, New York,
January 2, 1900.
…We have been here a week now, and are going to stay with Miss
Rhoades until Saturday. We are enjoying every moment of our
visit, every one is so good to us. We have seen many of our old
friends, and made some new ones. We dined with the Rogers last
Friday, and oh, they were so kind to us! The thought of their
gentle courtesy and genuine kindness brings a warm glow of joy
and gratitude to my heart. I have seen Dr. Greer too. He has such
a kind heart! I love him more than ever. We went to St.
Bartholomew’s Sunday, and I have not felt so much at home in a
church since dear Bishop Brooks died. Dr. Greer read so slowly,
that my teacher could tell me every word. His people must have
wondered at his unusual deliberation. After the service he asked
Mr. Warren, the organist to play for me. I stood in the middle of
the church, where the vibrations from the great organ were
strongest, and I felt the mighty waves of sound beat against me,
as the great billows beat against a little ship at sea.

138 Brattle Street, Cambridge,
Feb. 3, 1900.
…My studies are more interesting than ever. In Latin, I am
reading Horace’s odes. Although I find them difficult to
translate, yet I think they are the loveliest pieces of Latin
poetry I have read or shall ever read. In French we have finished
“Colomba,” and I am reading “Horace” by Corneille and La
Fontaine’s fables, both of which are in braille. I have not gone
far in either; but I know I shall enjoy the fables, they are so
delightfully written, and give such good lessons in a simple and
yet attractive way. I do not think I have told you that my dear
teacher is reading “The Faery Queen” to me. I am afraid I find
fault with the poem as much as I enjoy it. I do not care much for
the allegories, indeed I often find them tiresome, and I cannot
help thinking that Spenser’s world of knights, paynims, fairies,
dragons and all sorts of strange creatures is a somewhat
grotesque and amusing world; but the poem itself is lovely and as
musical as a running brook.

I am now the proud owner of about fifteen new books, which we
ordered from Louisville. Among them are “Henry Esmond,” “Bacon’s
Essays” and extracts from “English Literature.” Perhaps next week
I shall have some more books, “The Tempest,” “A Midsummer Night’s
Dream” and possibly some selections from Green’s history of
England. Am I not very fortunate?

I am afraid this letter savors too much of books—but really they
make up my whole life these days, and I scarcely see or hear of
anything else! I do believe I sleep on books every night! You
know a student’s life is of necessity somewhat circumscribed and
narrow and crowds out almost everything that is not in books….

138 Brattle Street, Cambridge, Mass.,
May 5, 1900.
Dear Sir:
As an aid to me in determining my plans for study the coming
year, I apply to you for information as to the possibility of my
taking the regular courses in Radcliffe College.

Since receiving my certificate of admission to Radcliffe last
July, I have been studying with a private tutor, Horace,
Aeschylus, French, German, Rhetoric, English History, English
Literature and Criticism, and English composition.

In college I should wish to continue most, if not all of these
subjects. The conditions under which I work require the presence
of Miss Sullivan, who has been my teacher and companion for
thirteen years, as an interpreter of oral speech and as a reader
of examination papers. In college she, or possibly in some
subjects some one else, would of necessity be with me in the
lecture-room and at recitations. I should do all my written work
on a typewriter, and if a Professor could not understand my
speech, I could write out my answers to his questions and hand
them to him after the recitation.

Is it possible for the College to accommodate itself to these
unprecedented conditions, so as to enable me to pursue my studies
at Radcliffe? I realize that the obstacles in the way of my
receiving a college education are very great—to others they may
seem insurmountable; but, dear Sir, a true soldier does not
acknowledge defeat before the battle.

38 Brattle Street, Cambridge,
June 9, 1900.
…I have not yet heard from the Academic Board in reply to my
letter; but I sincerely hope they will answer favorably. My
friends think it very strange that they should hesitate so long,
especially when I have not asked them to simplify my work in the
least, but only to modify it so as to meet the existing
circumstances. Cornell has offered to make arrangements suited to
the conditions under which I work, if I should decide to go to
that college, and the University of Chicago has made a similar
offer, but I am afraid if I went to any other college, it would
be thought that I did not pass my examinations for Radcliffe

In the fall Miss Keller entered Radcliffe College.

14 Coolidge Ave., Cambridge,
Nov. 26, 1900.
…—has already communicated with you in regard to her and my
plan of establishing an institution for deaf and blind children.
At first I was most enthusiastic in its support, and I never
dreamed that any grave objections could be raised except indeed
by those who are hostile to Teacher, but now, after thinking most
SERIOUSLY and consulting my friends, I have decided that—’s
plan is by no means feasible. In my eagerness to make it possible
for deaf and blind children to have the same advantages that I
have had, I quite forgot that there might be many obstacles in
the way of my accomplishing anything like what—proposed.

My friends thought we might have one or two pupils in our own
home, thereby securing to me the advantage of being helpful to
others without any of the disadvantages of a large school. They
were very kind; but I could not help feeling that they spoke more
from a business than a humanitarian point of view. I am sure they
did not quite understand how passionately I desire that all who
are afflicted like myself shall receive their rightful
inheritance of thought, knowledge and love. Still I could not
shut my eyes to the force and weight of their arguments, and I
saw plainly that I must abandon—’s scheme as impracticable.
They also said that I ought to appoint an advisory committee to
control my affairs while I am at Radcliffe. I considered this
suggestion carefully, then I told Mr. Rhoades that I should be
proud and glad to have wise friends to whom I could always turn
for advice in all important matters. For this committee I chose
six, my mother, Teacher, because she is like a mother to me, Mrs.
Hutton, Mr. Rhoades, Dr. Greer and Mr. Rogers, because it is they
who have supported me all these years and made it possible for me
to enter college. Mrs. Hutton had already written to mother,
asking her to telegraph if she was willing for me to have other
advisers besides herself and Teacher. This morning we received
word that mother had given her consent to this arrangement. Now
it remains for me to write to Dr. Greer and Mr. Rogers….

We had a long talk with Dr. Bell. Finally he proposed a plan
which delighted us all beyond words. He said that it was a
gigantic blunder to attempt to found a school for deaf and blind
children, because then they would lose the most precious
opportunities of entering into the fuller, richer, freer life of
seeing and hearing children. I had had misgivings on this point;
but I could not see how we were to help it. However Mr. Bell
suggested that—and all her friends who are interested in her
scheme should organize an association for the promotion of the
education of the deaf and blind, Teacher and myself being
included of course. Under his plan they were to appoint Teacher
to train others to instruct deaf and blind children in their own
homes, just as she had taught me. Funds were to be raised for the
teachers’ lodgings and also for their salaries. At the same time
Dr. Bell added that I could rest content and fight my way through
Radcliffe in competition with seeing and hearing girls, while the
great desire of my heart was being fulfilled. We clapped our
hands and shouted;—went away beaming with pleasure, and
Teacher and I felt more light of heart than we had for sometime.
Of course we can do nothing just now; but the painful anxiety
about my college work and the future welfare of the deaf and
blind has been lifted from our minds. Do tell me what you think
about Dr. Bell’s suggestion. It seems most practical and wise to
me; but I must know all that there is to be known about it before
I speak or act in the matter….

Cambridge, December 9, 1900.
Do you think me a villain and—I can’t think of a word bad enough
to express your opinion of me, unless indeed horse-thief will
answer the purpose. Tell me truly, do you think me as bad as
that? I hope not; for I have thought many letters to you which
never got on paper, and I am delighted to get your good letter,
yes, I really was, and I intended to answer it immediately, but
the days slip by unnoticed when one is busy, and I have been VERY
busy this fall. You must believe that. Radcliffe girls are always
up to their ears in work. If you doubt it, you’d better come and
see for yourself.

Yes, I am taking the regular college course for a degree. When I
am a B.A., I suppose you will not dare call me a villain! I am
studying English—Sophomore English, if you please, (though I
can’t see that it is different from just plain English) German,
French and History. I’m enjoying my work even more than I
expected to, which is another way of saying that I’m glad I came.
It is hard, very hard at times; but it hasn’t swamped me yet. No,
I am not studying Mathematics, or Greek or Latin either. The
courses at Radcliffe are elective, only certain courses in
English are prescribed. I passed off my English and advanced
French before I entered college, and I choose the courses I like
best. I don’t however intend to give up Latin and Greek entirely.
Perhaps I shall take up these studies later; but I’ve said
goodbye to Mathematics forever, and I assure you, I was delighted
to see the last of those horrid goblins! I hope to obtain my
degree in four years; but I’m not very particular about that.
There’s no great hurry, and I want to get as much as possible out
of my studies. Many of my friends would be well pleased if I
would take two or even one course a year, but I rather object to
spending the rest of my life in college….

14 Coolidge Avenue, Cambridge,
December 9, 1900.
…Since you are so much interested in the deaf and blind, I will
begin by telling you of several cases I have come across lately.
Last October I heard of an unusually bright little girl in Texas.
Her name is Ruby Rice, and she is thirteen years old, I think.
She has never been taught; but they say she can sew and likes to
help others in this sort of work. Her sense of smell is
wonderful. Why, when she enters a store, she will go straight to
the showcases, and she can also distinguish her own things. Her
parents are very anxious indeed to find a teacher for her. They
have also written to Mr. Hitz about her.

I also know a child at the Institution for the Deaf in
Mississippi. Her name is Maud Scott, and she is six years old.
Miss Watkins, the lady who has charge of her wrote me a most
interesting letter. She said that Maud was born deaf and lost her
sight when she was only three months old, and that when she went
to the Institution a few weeks ago, she was quite helpless. She
could not even walk and had very little use of her hands. When
they tried to teach her to string beads, her little hands fell to
her side. Evidently her sense of touch has not been developed,
and as yet she can walk only when she holds some one’s hand; but
she seems to be an exceedingly bright child. Miss Watkins adds
that she is very pretty. I have written to her that when Maud
learns to read, I shall have many stories to send her. The dear,
sweet little girl, it makes my heart ache to think how utterly
she is cut off from all that is good and desirable in life. But
Miss Watkins seems to be just the kind of teacher she needs.

I was in New York not long ago and I saw Miss Rhoades, who told
me that she had seen Katie McGirr. She said the poor young girl
talked and acted exactly like a little child. Katie played with
Miss Rhoades’s rings and took them away, saying with a merry
laugh, “You shall not have them again!” She could only understand
Miss Rhoades when she talked about the simplest things. The
latter wished to send her some books; but she could not find
anything simple enough for her! She said Katie was very sweet
indeed, but sadly in need of proper instruction. I was much
surprised to hear all this; for I judged from your letters that
Katie was a very precocious girl….

A few days ago I met Tommy Stringer in the railroad station at
Wrentham. He is a great, strong boy now, and he will soon need a
man to take care of him; he is really too big for a lady to
manage. He goes to the public school, I hear, and his progress is
astonishing, they say; but it doesn’t show as yet in his
conversation, which is limited to “Yes” and “No.”…

December 20, 1900.
My dear Mr. Copeland;
I venture to write to you because I am afraid that if I do not
explain why I have stopped writing themes, you will think I have
become discouraged, or perhaps that to escape criticism I have
beat a cowardly retreat from your class. Please do not think
either of these very unpleasant thoughts. I am not discouraged,
nor am I afraid. I am confident that I could go on writing themes
like those I have written, and I suppose I should get through the
course with fairly good marks; but this sort of literary
patch-work has lost all interest for me. I have never been
satisfied with my work; but I never knew what my difficulty was
until you pointed it out to me. When I came to your class last
October, I was trying with all my might to be like everybody
else, to forget as entirely as possible my limitations and
peculiar environment. Now, however, I see the folly of attempting
to hitch one’s wagon to a star with harness that does not belong
to it.

I have always accepted other peoples experiences and observations
as a matter of course. It never occurred to me that it might be
worth while to make my own observations and describe the
experiences peculiarly my own. Henceforth I am resolved to be
myself, to live my own life and write my own thoughts when I have
any. When I have written something that seems to be fresh and
spontaneous and worthy of your criticisms, I will bring it to
you, if I may, and if you think it good, I shall be happy; but if
your verdict is unfavorable, I shall try again and yet again
until I have succeeded in pleasing you…

14 Coolidge Avenue, Cambridge,
December 27, 1900.
…So you read about our class luncheon in the papers? How in the
world do the papers find out everything, I wonder. I am sure no
reporter was present. I had a splendid time; the toasts and
speeches were great fun. I only spoke a few words, as I did not
know I was expected to speak until a few minutes before I was
called upon. I think I wrote you that I had been elected
Vice-President of the Freshman Class of Radcliffe.

Did I tell you in my last letter that I had a new dress, a real
party dress with low neck and short sleeves and quite a train? It
is pale blue, trimmed with chiffon of the same color. I have worn
it only once, but then I felt that Solomon in all his glory was
not to be compared with me! Anyway, he certainly never had a
dress like mine!…

A gentleman in Philadelphia has just written to my teacher about
a deaf and blind child in Paris, whose parents are Poles. The
mother is a physician and a brilliant woman, he says. This little
boy could speak two or three languages before he lost his hearing
through sickness, and he is now only about five years old. Poor
little fellow, I wish I could do something for him; but he is so
young, my teacher thinks it would be too bad to separate him from
his mother. I have had a letter from Mrs. Thaw with regard to the
possibility of doing something for these children. Dr. Bell
thinks the present census will show that there are more than a
thousand in the United States alone [The number of deaf-blind
young enough to be benefited by education is not so large as
this; but the education of this class of defectives has been
neglected.]; and Mrs. Thaw thinks if all my friends were to unite
their efforts, “it would be an easy matter to establish at the
beginning of this new century a new line upon which mercy might
travel,” and the rescue of these unfortunate children could be

Cambridge, February 2, 1901.
…By the way, have you any specimens of English braille
especially printed for those who have lost their sight late in
life or have fingers hardened by long toil, so that their touch
is less sensitive than that of other blind people? I read an
account of such a system in one of my English magazines, and I am
anxious to know more about it. If it is as efficient as they say,
I see no reason why English braille should not be adopted by the
blind of all countries. Why, it is the print that can be most
readily adapted to many different languages. Even Greek can be
embossed in it, as you know. Then, too, it will be rendered still
more efficient by the “interpointing system,” which will save an
immense amount of space and paper. There is nothing more absurd,
I think, than to have five or six different prints for the

This letter was written in response to a tentative offer from the
editor of The Great Round World to have the magazine published in
raised type for the blind, if enough were willing to subscribe.
It is evident that the blind should have a good magazine, not a
special magazine for the blind, but one of our best monthlies,
printed in embossed letters. The blind alone could not support
it, but it would not take very much money to make up the
additional expense.

Cambridge, Feb. 16, 1901.
The Great Round World,
New York City.
Gentlemen: I have only to-day found time to reply to your
interesting letter. A little bird had already sung the good news
in my ear; but it was doubly pleasant to have it straight from

It would be splendid to have The Great Round World printed in
“language that can be felt.” I doubt if any one who enjoys the
wondrous privilege of seeing can have any conception of the boon
such a publication as you contemplate would be to the sightless.
To be able to read for one’s self what is being willed, thought
and done in the world—the world in whose joys and sorrows,
failures and successes one feels the keenest interest—that would
indeed be a happiness too deep for words. I trust that the effort
of The Great Round World to bring light to those who sit in
darkness will receive the encouragement and support it so richly

I doubt, however, if the number of subscribers to an embossed
edition of The Great Round World would ever be large; for I am
told that the blind as a class are poor. But why should not the
friends of the blind assist The Great Round World, if necessary?
Surely there are hearts and hands ever ready to make it possible
for generous intentions to be wrought into noble deeds.

Wishing you godspeed in an undertaking that is very dear to my
heart, I am, etc.

Cambridge, Sept. 25, 1901.
…We remained in Halifax until about the middle of August….
Day after day the Harbor, the warships, and the park kept us busy
thinking and feeling and enjoying…. When the Indiana visited
Halifax, we were invited to go on board, and she sent her own
launch for us. I touched the immense cannon, read with my fingers
several of the names of the Spanish ships that were captured at
Santiago, and felt the places where she had been pierced with
shells. The Indiana was the largest and finest ship in the
Harbor, and we felt very proud of her.

After we left Halifax, we visited Dr. Bell at Cape Breton. He has
a charming, romantic house on a mountain called Beinn Bhreagh,
which overlooks the Bras d’Or Lake….

Dr. Bell told me many interesting things about his work. He had
just constructed a boat that could be propelled by a kite with
the wind in its favor, and one day he tried experiments to see if
he could steer the kite against the wind. I was there and really
helped him fly the kites. On one of them I noticed that the
strings were of wire, and having had some experience in bead
work, I said I thought they would break. Dr. Bell said “No!” with
great confidence, and the kite was sent up. It began to pull and
tug, and lo, the wires broke, and off went the great red dragon,
and poor Dr. Bell stood looking forlornly after it. After that he
asked me if the strings were all right and changed them at once
when I answered in the negative. Altogether we had great fun….

TO DR. EDWARD EVERETT HALE [Read by Dr. Hale at the celebration
of the centenary of Dr. Samuel Gridley Howe, at Tremont Temple,
Boston, Nov. 11, 1901.]
Cambridge, Nov. 10, 1901.
My teacher and I expect to be present at the meeting tomorrow in
commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of Dr. Howe’s
birth; but I very much doubt if we shall have an opportunity to
speak with you; so I am writing now to tell you how delighted I
am that you are to speak at the meeting, because I feel that you,
better than any one I know will express the heartfelt gratitude
of those who owe their education, their opportunities, their
happiness to him who opened the eyes of the blind and gave the
dumb lip language.

Sitting here in my study, surrounded by my books, enjoying the
sweet and intimate companionship of the great and the wise, I am
trying to realize what my life might have been, if Dr. Howe had
failed in the great task God gave him to perform. If he had not
taken upon himself the responsibility of Laura Bridgman’s
education and led her out of the pit of Acheron back to her human
inheritance, should I be a sophomore at Radcliffe College
to-day—who can say? But it is idle to speculate about what might
have been in connection with Dr. Howe’s great achievement.

I think only those who have escaped that death-in-life existence,
from which Laura Bridgman was rescued, can realize how isolated,
how shrouded in darkness, how cramped by its own impotence is a
soul without thought or faith or hope. Words are powerless to
describe the desolation of that prison-house, or the joy of the
soul that is delivered out of its captivity. When we compare the
needs and helplessness of the blind before Dr. Howe began his
work, with their present usefulness and independence, we realize
that great things have been done in our midst. What if physical
conditions have built up high walls about us? Thanks to our
friend and helper, our world lies upward; the length and breadth
and sweep of the heavens are ours!

It is pleasant to think that Dr. Howe’s noble deeds will receive
their due tribute of affection and gratitude, in the city, which
was the scene of his great labors and splendid victories for

With kind greetings, in which my teacher joins me, I am
Affectionately your friend,

Cambridge, Mass., November 25, 1901.
My Dear Senator Hoar:—
I am glad you liked my letter about Dr. Howe. It was written out
of my heart, and perhaps that is why it met a sympathetic
response in other hearts. I will ask Dr. Hale to lend me the
letter, so that I can make a copy of it for you.

You see, I use a typewriter—it is my right hand man, so to
speak. Without it I do not see how I could go to college. I write
all my themes and examinations on it, even Greek. Indeed, it has
only one drawback, and that probably is regarded as an advantage
by the professors; it is that one’s mistakes may be detected at a
glance; for there is no chance to hide them in illegible writing.

I know you will be amused when I tell you that I am deeply
interested in politics. I like to have the papers read to me, and
I try to understand the great questions of the day; but I am
afraid my knowledge is very unstable; for I change my opinions
with every new book I read. I used to think that when I studied
Civil Government and Economics, all my difficulties and
perplexities would blossom into beautiful certainties; but alas,
I find that there are more tares than wheat in these fertile
fields of knowledge….

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