Around the age of 2, Helen Keller became deaf and blind. Keller learned to communicate, read and write when she was 7, thanks to Anne Sullivan. She learned English literature, mathematics, history, Greek, Latin, French and German and graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College. Keller was an author of international renown and helped found the American Civil Liberties Union.
Helen Keller was born on June 27, 1880, in Tuscumbia, Alabama, with all of her senses intact. When she was 19 months old, she contracted what doctors at the time called "brain fever," which left her completely blind and deaf. The young Keller was prone to rage and tantrums when upset and bouts of uncontrolled laughter when happy. Anne Sullivan was brought to the Keller's home as her teacher and communicated with Helen through fingerspelling. Sullivan and Helen moved to a cabin on the family plantation to concentrate on Helen's learning in private.
Sullivan and Keller improvised unique methods of learning during their four years at Radcliffe, particularly in regard to geometry. While at Radcliffe, Keller's rhetoric professor Charles Copeland encouraged the undergraduate to pursue writing as a means of telling her story. At 23, she published her first autobiography, "The Story of My Life." Helen wrote prolifically but wanted to experience everything. She encountered deep skepticism and disbelief when she was 11, 23 and 52. Each time, people assaulted her verbally and in letters, but she was not deterred. Keller always refused money given to her, stating her preference to earn her own way. She devoted much of her later life to philanthropy and aiding the underprivileged.