In The Story of My Life, Keller provides a personal and poignant picture of many great men. They leave impressions of kindness and sympathy on her. For example, when she is young, she meets Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, to whom she dedicates her book. She writes, "He held me on his knee while I examined his watch, and he made it strike for me. He understood my signs, and I knew it and loved him at once." Rather than portraying him as a great man, Keller depicts Dr. Bell as an avuncular and loving figure. Later, he attends the 1893 World's Fair with her and Miss Sullivan, and Keller says, "Dr. Bell went everywhere with us and in his own delightful way described to me the objects of greatest interest." She again conveys his personal rather than his public side.
She visits Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, a famous doctor and poet. She recites poetry to him. She writes, "But I stopped suddenly. I felt tears on my hand. I had made my beloved poet weep." This is a touching and personal account of a public figure in which he is reduced to tears by poetry. She writes of Dr. Edward Everett Hale, a writer and minister, that he
"...is one of my very oldest friends. I have known him since I was eight, and my love for him has increased with my years. His wise, tender sympathy has been the support of Miss Sullivan and me in times of trial and sorrow."
Again, Keller paints a picture of a private man, a tender and sympathetic friend rather than an august or reserved figure. When she is meeting with these great figures, they reveal their sympathetic and personal side to her.