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Helen And Teacher: The Story Of Helen Keller And Anne Sullivan Macy (Radcliffe Biography Series) Paperback – April 2, 1997

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Editorial Reviews

From Scientific American

Joseph P. Lash understands that the story of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan Macy is the story of a marriage and he has written it accordingly. His sensitivity to the yearnings of his two subjects is acute.


... a deeply absorbing portrait of two intertwined lives whose meanings can't be understood separately. -- The New York Times Book Review, Joseph Featherstone

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Product Details

  • Series: Radcliffe Biography Series
  • Paperback: 832 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; 1ST edition (April 2, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201694689
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201694680
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #359,932 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By JC Reader on June 6, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is the best biography about Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller that I have read. Since I was a child I have been fascinated by them and have read everything that I could get my hands on. Lash goes beyond their heroism and describes Annie and Helen as real people with "feet of clay."

He relies heavily on voluminous correspondence to show the many facets of Helen and those in her life. Many of these details are not explained in other biographies. For example, Helen's father tried to shore up his finances with loans (often defaulted) from Helen's patrons. The "Frost King" incident caused many people to doubt Annie's veracity and credibility as a teacher for the rest of her life. Mr.Sandborn and Mr. Anagnos used the controversy to divert attention from Annie's role as Teacher to Helen and to re-focus attention on the role that the Perkins Institute played in her education. Lash also shows that John Macy had a complex relationship (for the good and the bad) with both Annie and with Helen. Helen was a radical Socialist and often risked her popularity and, therefore, their income by speaking out in support of Socialist leaders and causes. In the end the reader sees that Helen and many of those around her did great things, but they were not perfect. Insecurity, jealousy, money and a desire for love and fame caused all of them to act ugly sometimes.

The other point that was never clear to me before, is that Helen and Annie spent their lives marketing themselves in order to generate an income. Helen's father faced a serious financial downturn that prevented him from supporting them from Helen's young womanhood on.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By BeatleBangs1964 VINE VOICE on November 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
The lives of Helen Keller and her teacher, Ann Sullivan Macy are eternally intertwined. Helen Keller, blind and deaf since infancy depended on Annie since the age of 6 when the latter was hired to teach her.
This comprehensive, fascinating and completely riviting biography does an excellent job of separating the two women's lives and analyzing each woman in her own right. Helen takes giant steps beyond the water pump where Annie first impressed upon her the concept of language. It is to this author's credit that the reader does not languish at that water pump, but follows these women throughout their lives.
The true symbiosis is fully described when other teachers as well as Helen's own mother Kate, try to separate her from Annie. Feeling that her maternal authority had been usurped, Kate understandably wanted to wean Helen from Annie. Each attempt by any person to effect such a change resulted in disaster. Even Annie's marriage to a gifted editor named John Macy ended in an acrimonious split because he felt Helen took up too large a portion of their lives together. From all accounts, Macy seemed to feel that Annie used the same domineering methods she had used on the child Helen with him. He also described Annie as "manipulative and controlling," which certainly seem like apt descriptions of her approach. Resentful of Helen's constant presence and feeling like an odd member of an equally odd triadic relationship, John retreats further from the marriage.
When Annie dies, Helen is disconsolate; she feels she can't survive without her "Teacher," although she, by that point had been at Annie's side for nearly half a century.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By on June 7, 1998
Format: Paperback
There is no need to read anything else on Helen Keller or Annie Sullivan Macy, because it is all included in this incredible biography. This in-depth look at these two remarkable women was both readable and throughly informative. Of all my research on Annie Sullivan, I have found nothing that is not mentioned in Mr. Lash's work; he has truly captured her spirit, along with her triumphant pupil.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Penny Thoughtful on June 9, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book has just about every bit of information about Annie and Helen anyone could wish for! My only complaint is that there is SO much information, sometimes it was easy for me to miss what I was looking for. It took me a long time to find out, for example, how Helen learned to speak English, and what exactly happened with Mr. Anagnos, and with John Macy, and who Swedenborg was, etc. I was delighted to find out that one of Helen's favorite books was Anne of Green Gables! It's tidbits like this that make the book delightful as a whole. I think both of these women led truly fascinating lives and accomplished amazing things!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Linskey on December 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This hefty book is probably the definitive source of information about Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller, all of their foibles included. It includes everything you could possibly want to know, with four sections of photos and reproductions of their original letters. The author must have done exhaustive research, to compile so much into one place.

I found it interesting that when the Gibson play was written, so much was factually correct and taken directly from Annie's letters and Helen's memories. Even the dining room knock down/drag out over table manners (with a little dramatic license taken, I'm sure).

Interested in the full story of Helen Keller? You'll find everything you ever wanted to know in this huge volume - and more! Give yourself a week or two to read it!
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