New Jersey-based antiquarian bookseller Between the Covers (BTC) Rare Books recently published a full-color catalogue devoted to women. Seventy items items by, for, and about the fairer sex include paintings, pottery, books, and manuscripts hailing from around the globe and across time.
One of the high spots includes a letter written and signed by Helen Keller (1880-1968) when she was seven years old. Believed to be one her earliest missives, this one was composed only two months after she began instruction with Anne Sullivan (1866-1936) the woman who would become her lifelong instructor and friend. Writing to her cousin Anna Turner, Keller is describing a train trip she recently took to Huntsville, Alabama. Keller made rapid progress under Sullivan's careful tutelage; according to Michael Anagnos, director of the Perkins Institute for the Blind during Keller's lifetime, she had already mastered 450 words "which she could use correctly and spell with perfect accuracy" after only four months spent working with Sullivan.
Keller's handwriting is remarkably neat, legible, and reflects her early writing style of omitting articles and using the word "did" in past tense constructions. Keller made tremendous gains in communication and graduated from Radcliffe College in 1904--the first blind-deaf person to receive a Bachelor of Arts--and eventually authored twelve books, including her autobiography, The Story of My Life.
Throughout her life, Keller championed for the blind and the unfortunate, and served as a beacon of hope to those facing overwhelming odds, believing, as she put it, that "although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it."
Accompanied by a cabinet card of Keller as well as twenty other members of her family, this piece of history is available for $28,000. Contact Between the Covers for more information.
Photo of Helen Keller with Anne Sullivan on vacation in Brewster, Massachusetts in 1888 credit: Part of the R. Stanton Avery Special Collections at the New England Historic Genealogical Society, via Wikimedia Commons.