Chicken Soup for the Sole: Anne Sullivan

Everyone has heard of Helen Keller, the woman who overcame being born blind and deaf to become known as one of the most inspirational people in history. However, this month’s Chicken Soup for the Sole isn’t going to focus on Helen Keller herself, but instead the woman who unlocked her ability to communicate with the world: her teacher, Anne Sullivan. The relationship between these two amazing women not only unleashed Helen Keller’s gifts, but also enriched Anne Sullivan’s life as well.

Who Was Anne Sullivan?

Anne Sullivan’s life began in Massachusetts in 1886. Until the age of five, she had a normal childhood until she contracted a highly contagious eye disease called trachoma. Although this disease is treatable today, it was devastating in the late 1800’s and eventually left Anne completely blind. Things quickly got worse for Anne: her mother died and her father abandoned the family, leaving Anne and her siblings to live in an almshouse. Despite these setbacks, she graduated as Valedictorian from Perkins School for the blind and was hired to teach a young blind and deaf girl from Alabama named Helen Keller.

Anne Meets Helen

When Anne arrived at the Keller’s home, she encountered a frustrated young girl who struggled to communicate with the outside world. Through Anne’s hard work and Helen’s natural intelligence, the duo redefined what was possible for a deaf/blind person to achieve. Helen became the first deaf/blind person to graduate from college and became a world-renowned symbol of perseverance. It’s no surprise that the relationship between Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan is a natural choice to be adapted for stage and screen. The most famous adaptation of their story is the 1962 film The Miracle Worker, which won several Academy Awards for acting. Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller remained friends and companions for the rest of their lives.

My name is Jessica Cox, and being born without arms hasn’t restricted me from living a life worth remembering. If you’re interested in having me share my story at your convention, meeting, or faith-based gathering, call me at 520-505-1359 or contact me on my website.