Helen Keller reading a book in braille

Helen Keller wrote 14 books and over 475 speeches and essays on topics such as faith, nature, racism, human rights, and overcoming adversity. She read avidly and wrote about many of the significant political, social, and cultural movements of the 20th century. No doubt, among her voluminous writings, papers, letters, essays, and speeches a reader can find countless quotes to motivate and inspire. AFB is proud to preserve and provide access to the world’s largest repository of materials about and by Helen Keller via the digital Helen Keller Archive, the first fully accessible digital archive collection.

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Below are just a sampling of Helen Keller quotes. Click on a heading to read more on what Helen had to say about these varied subjects.

Helen Keller Quotes on Happiness

"We are never really happy until we try to brighten the lives of others."
—"My New Speech," undated

Helen Keller Quotes on Nature

"I am thankful that in a troubled world no calamity can prevent the return of spring."
—Letter to Mrs. Felix [Carrie] Fuld, May 10, 1933

Helen Keller Quotes on Education

"Education should train the child to use his brains, to make for himself a place in the world and maintain his rights even when it seems that society would shove him into the scrap-heap."
—"Going Back to School," The Home Magazine, September 1934

Helen Keller Quotes on Faith

"By faith I mean a vision of good one cherishes and the enthusiasm that pushes one to seek its fulfillment regardless of obstacles. Faith is a dynamic power that breaks the chain of routine and gives a new, fine turn to old commonplaces. Faith reinvigorates the will, enriches the affections and awakens a sense of creativeness. Active faith knows no fear, and it is a safeguard to me against cynicism and despair. After all, faith is not one thing or two or three things; it is an indivisible totality of beliefs that inspire me."—Manuscript for Helen Keller's "This I Believe"

Helen Keller Quotes on Women's Rights

"We have prayed, we have coaxed, we have begged, for the vote, with the hope that men, out of chivalry, would bestow equal rights upon women and take them into partnership in the affairs of the state. We hoped that their common sense would triumph over prejudices and stupidity. We thought their boasted sense of justice would overcome the errors that so often fetter the human spirit; but we have always gone away empty handed. We shall beg no more."
—Speech to the delegates of the New Woman's Party, June 11, 1916, Chicago

Helen Keller Quotes on Racism in the United States

"The continued lynchings and other crimes against negroes, whether in New England or the South, and unspeakable political exponents of white supremacy, according to all recorded history, augur ill for America's future."
—Letter to Nella Braddy, September 22, 1946

Helen Keller Quotes on Reading

"More than at any other time, when I hold a beloved book in my hand my limitations fall from me, my spirit is free."
Midstream, 1930

Helen Keller Quotes About Herself

"I am not a perfect being. . . . I have more faults than I know what to do with. I have a naughty temper. I am stubborn, impatient of hindrances and of stupidity. I have not in the truest sense a Christian spirit. I am naturally a fighter. I am lazy. I put off till tomorrow what I might better do today. I do not feel that I have been compensated for the two senses I lack. I have worked hard for all the senses I have got, and always I beg for more."
—"A Message from the Hand, or from Darkness to Light (Another Beginning)," draft of speech, 1928

Helen Keller Quotes on Optimism

"Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement; nothing can be done without hope." —Optimism, 1903