What is the setting of The Story of My Life by Helen Keller?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The setting of Helen Keller's The Story of My Life radically shifts over the course of the book. It begins in Keller's birthplace in the town of Tuscumbia, Alabama, where she is mysteriously taken ill as an infant with a disease that strips her of her ability to see, hear, and communicate. After Keller's behavior becomes so erratic that her family can no longer tolerate it, they visit Alexander Graham Bell in Washington, D.C., who suggests that they seek help from the Perkins Institution in Boston.

Keller receives a teacher from the Perkins Institution--Anne Sullivan, who comes from Boston to Tuscumbia to correct Keller's behaviors. At the age of eight, Keller visits the Perkins Institution and Cape Cod. She later travels more extensively, visiting Chicago, Washington, D.C. (again), Niagra, and Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Helen Keller's story begins in Tuscumbia, a small town in northern Alabama, in 1880. Her family's house was called Ivy Green, and she particularly loved the garden and lands surrounding the house. After a childhood illness made her blind and deaf, Helen often explored the gardens by sight and found solace in nature. Because she lived in such a small, rural town, her parents had to consult a doctor in Baltimore to find help for Helen. This doctor sent the family to consult Alexander Graham Bell in Washington, D.C., who arranged for Keller's teacher, Anne Sullivan, to come to Tuscumbia from the Perkins Institute in Boston.

In 1888, Keller visited the Perkins Institution for the Blind with Anne Sullivan and then went to Cape Cod, where she first experienced the ocean. In 1893, Keller attended the World's Fair in Chicago with Alexander Graham Bell and the inauguration of President Cleveland in Washington. She also visited Niagara. In 1896, Keller went to Cambridge, Massachusetts to prepare to enter Radcliffe, the sister school of Harvard at the time. She lived in Cambridge for several years while attending Radcliffe. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial