In Helen Keller’s book, The Story of My Life, Anne Sullivan is the woman who overcame her own visual deficiencies to become the teacher, confidant, and dear friend to Helen Keller. As a poor, young girl, Anne Sullivan suffered an eye infection that affected her sight. She was cared for at the Perkins School for the Blind, in Boston, MA. After a series of operations restored much of her sight, she excelled in her studies and became a teacher of blind students. She used a manual alphabet to make associations between items, and the words that named them.
After her graduation, she traveled to Alabama where she became the private teacher of Helen Keller. Although, at seven years old, Helen could be a difficult student, Anne Sullivan persevered using the manual alphabet to teach Helen words for simple objects. As Helen’s need for knowledge grew, Anne devised implements to aid her student in writing and speech. Helen became an ardent learner and with Anne Sullivan’s guidance, she went on to graduate from Radcliffe College, and to write The Story of My Life. Sullivan endured a failed marriage. Financial matters became a concern which spurred Anne and Helen to seek a career in Hollywood which was short lived. They eventually performed successfully in a comedy act in Vaudeville shows.