Monday, August 25, 2008

Helen's Eyes

National Geographic's photobiography series is a treat. Everyone knows National Geographic for its fabulous pictures, but the writing found within its pages and books is also of the highest quality. Having enjoyed their Annie Oakley and Matthew Henson biographies, I was excited to find that Annie Sullivan was the subject of its latest book.

Helen Keller remains an admired figure 40 years after her death, but her teacher, Annie Sullivan, usually does not receive as much attention in her own right (save for an unparalleled biography, Helen and Teacher). Helen Keller was and is an inspiration, but she would not have achieved her accomplishments without the dedication and sacrifice of Annie Sullivan. In Helen's Eyes, readers learn of Annie's awful childhood within an insane and debtors' asylum, her lifelong battle with sight, and her determination and dedication toward Helen. Readers also learn of Sullivan's unsuccessful marriage, their experiences on the lecture circuit, Hollywood, and vaudeville, and Helen's life after Sullivan's death.

Having read nearly all the books on Helen Keller available, there aren't many pictures of Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan that I have not seen. I was happy to find "new" pictures of the two that were unknown to me. I was also satisfied to find that Marfe Ferguson Delano vividly paints pictures of the incredible demands placed upon Annie Sullivan. Helen's Eyes is a great achievement.

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