Helen Keller

Selected Writings

317 pages

34 illustrations

June, 2005

ISBN: 9780814758298



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Kim E. Nielsen is Associate Professor of History and Women’s Studies in the Department of Social Change and Development at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. She lives in Green Bay, WI.

All books by Kim E. Nielsen

“[My life] is so rich with blessings—an immense capacity of enjoyment, books, and beloved friends. . . . Most earnestly I pray the dear Heavenly Father that I may sometime make myself far more worthy of the love shown to me than I am now.”
—April 22, 1900 letter from Helen Keller to John Hitz, AFB

When Helen Keller died in 1968, at the age of eighty-eight years old, she was one of the most widely known women in the world. The overnight success of her biography, The Story of My Life, written at age twenty-three, made it obvious to Keller that she was endowed with a gift for writing and speaking. As she got older, she increasingly began to do both on a variety of subjects extending beyond her own disability, including social, political, and theological issues.

Helen Keller: Selected Writings collects Keller’s personal letters, political writings, speeches, and excerpts of her published materials from 1887 to 1968. The book also includes an introductory essay by Kim E. Nielsen, headnotes to each document, and a selected bibliography of work by and about Keller. The majority of the letters and some prints, all drawn from the Helen Keller Archives at the American Foundation for the Blind in New York, are being published for the first time.

Literature, education, advocacy, politics, religion, travel: the many interests of Helen Keller culminate in this book and are reflected in her spirited narration. Also portrayed are the individuals Keller inspired and took inspiration from, including her teacher Annie Sullivan, her family, and others with whom she formed friendships throughout the course of her life.

This often charming collection revels in and preserves Keller’s public and private life, coming to us in the year which marks the 125th anniversary of her birthday.


  • “These words written so long ago are as lively and relevant as if they were just typed. . . . Editor Kim Nielsen has compiled a treasure trove of Helen Keller’s letters, speeches, and other writings that provide a glimpse into Keller's friendships; her views about disability, politics, and social justice; and her affection and respect for her teacher, Anne Sullivan Macy. . . . Because of the breadth of topics addressed, this book will be of significance to a wide variety of people.... As evidenced by her own words, Helen Keller was a deeply spiritual person with high regard for the dignity of each person and a desire for social justice. My admiration for her as a woman and as a citizen has increased by reading this book.”

    Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness

  • “[This] makes a fine companion to The Radical Lives of Helen Keller. . . . A useful addition to academic libraries supporting literature programs and larger public libraries.”

    Library Journal

  • “Here is Helen Keller’s endlessly fascinating life in all its variety: from intimate personal correspondence to radical political essays, from autobiography to speeches advocating the rights of disabled people. All are illuminated by Nielsen’s insightful introductory essays. The wealth of photos is equally delightful. This is a treasure trove for Keller enthusiasts and scholars alike.”

    —Douglas C. Baynton, author of Forbidden Signs: American Culture and the Campaign Against Sign Language

  • Helen Keller: Selected Writings allows a fresh reassessment of one of the extraordinary figures of the twentieth century. Helen Keller was more than just a blind and deaf woman who learned to communicate, she was an acute intelligence exploring and explaining the world to those with all five senses. This astute selection from her writings enables us to read her public and private words over the many decades of long and productive life.”

    —Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz, Smith College

  • “With the help of the American Foundation for the Blind, editor Nielsen has compiled an outstanding collection, including many letters and photos that are being published for the first time.”