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  Anne Sullivan Macy: Miracle Worker

Letter from Kate A. Keller to Anne Sullivan, 1897

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Anne as Teacher (1886-1904)
Lines of Communication

Once Helen's abilities were known, the general public and even some scholars believed them to be too extraordinary for a deaf-blind child. In 1891, Anne and Helen's detractors were given information that seemed to prove them right. Anne had sent Michael Anagnos, the Director of the Perkins School for the Blind, a story by Helen entitled The Frost King.

Helen's story was very similar to one written by Margaret Canby. Helen was accused of plagiarism. Alexander Graham Bell and Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain), another of Anne and Helen's supporters, came to their defense quickly. Both men said that we all unconsciously plagiarize. Those who made the charge assumed that Anne, not Helen, had read Canby's book. That led to the belief that Anne must be shaping Helen's thoughts and opinions. In fact, Helen had come across Canby's book many years before at a friend's house. Without realizing it, she had made the story a part of her own thoughts.

In 1897, there was a still more dramatic example of the disagreement over what information Anne was giving Helen. A year earlier, paid for by private, philanthropic funding, Anne and Helen enrolled in the Cambridge School for Young Ladies in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The purpose was to prepare Helen for entrance examinations to Radcliffe College. By the fall of 1897 a dispute had arisen between the school's director, Arthur Gilman, and Anne. Gilman believed that Anne had too great a control over Helen. He wrote to Mrs. Keller that Anne was overworking Helen. He claimed that her health was suffering as a result. He showed Anne a telegram from Mrs. Keller. It authorized him to separate Anne from Helen; Gilman was to take charge of Helen.

Helen and her sister Mildred, who was visiting at the time, refused to follow Gilman to his home without Anne, who left the school that night. Anne sent telegrams to several people, among them Mrs. Keller, Dr. Bell, and philanthropist Eleanor Hutton. Anne returned the next day and refused to leave the school until she had seen Helen and Mildred. She then went with the girls to the house where they lived. All three were forbidden to leave the premises. Joseph E. Chamberlin, a friend of Anne and Helen's, met with Gilman and convinced him to let Anne and the girls stay with him. In the meantime, Mrs. Keller arrived. So did Alexander Graham Bell's assistant at the Volta Bureau, John Hitz. He, following Bell's request, gathered independent reports about what had taken place.

Helen did not return to the school. Instead, she completed her preparatory education at the Chamberlins' home in Wrentham, Massachusetts. No one ever succeeded in separating Anne from Helen after this.


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Governess Wanted in Alabama
Teaching Helen
The Power of Words
Anne's Letters to Sophia Hopkins
Early Fame
Teaching Helen Keller How to Speak
Anne's Educational Philosophy
Alexander Graham Bell
Lines of Communication
Radcliffe College
You Must Train Teachers


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Introduction
Formative Years
Formative Years
Teacher
Teacher
Wrentham
Wrentham
Trouble
Trouble
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Legacy

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