What circumstances led Helen Keller to be accused of plagiarism?

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mrshh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

After learning how to communicate, Helen Keller developed a deep love of reading and learning. She also started writing creatively. Helen was inspired by Miss Sullivan's description of nature during the autumn months. She then wrote a story called "The Frost King." Helen did not realize there were many similarities in her story to a previously published story that had been read to her previously.

Helen gave the story she wrote to Mr. Anagnos at the Perkins Institution. She happily mailed it to him for his birthday. Mr. Anagnos was impressed by Helen's story. He found it remarkable that a deaf and blind child who had only recently learned to read and write could develop such a creative story. He had the story published in a report for the school. It was soon discovered that Helen's story was incredibly similar to one by Margaret T. Canby. As a result, Helen was accused of plagiarism, which shocked and embarrassed her. At first, Mr. Anagnos took Helen's side. He believed she had not intentionally plagiarized.

A teacher at Perkins questioned Helen about her story, and accused her of confessing to intentional plagiarism. The teacher told this to Mr. Anagnos, who accused Helen of lying about her innocence. This caused a rift between the two, which devastated Helen.

The accusation of plagiarism left a deep impact on Helen. She described that period of her life as being "darkened by one cloud in [her] childhood's bright sky." Helen was afraid to write creatively for years.