How did being accused of plagiarism affect Helen Keller?

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mrshh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Helen was accused of intentional plagiarism when she was eleven years old. She had unintentionally plagiarized a story which had been read to her years before. Helen wrote what she thought was a creative story called "The Frost King." It was later brought to her attention that her story closely resembled another. Even though Helen was young and had not intended to plagiarize, she was questioned by an investigation committee made up of teachers and others. Mr. Anagnos, who had always been kind to her, became distant after the incident. They were never close again.

After this experience with plagiarism, Helen became a hesitant writer. She was constantly worried that she would write something which had previously been composed by someone else. Helen developed fears relating to the originality of her own writings. In her autobiography, The Story of My Life, Helen discussed her fears about writing:

The thought that what I wrote might not be absolutely my own tormented me (Chapter XV).

Even when Helen was in college and writing her autobiography, she wrote with hesitation. She desired to write with accuracy and only use her own words.