DR. EDWARD EVERETT HALE
Alabama, February 21st, 1889.
dear Mr. Hale,
am very much afraid that you are thinking in your mind that little Helen has
forgotten all about you and her dear cousins. But I think you will be delighted
to receive this letter because then you will know that I of[ten] think about you
and I love you dearly for you are my dear cousin. I have been at home a great
many weeks now. It made me feel very sad to leave Boston and I missed all of my
friends greatly, but of course I was glad to get back to my lovely home once
more. My darling little sister is growing very fast. Sometimes she tries to
spell very short words on her small [fingers] but she is too young to remember
hard words. When she is older I will teach her many things if she is patient and
obedient. My teacher says, if children learn to be patient and gentle while they
are little, that when they grow to be young ladies and gentlemen they will not
forget to be kind and loving and brave. I hope I shall be courageous always. A
little girl in a story was not courageous. She thought she saw little elves with
tall pointed [hats] peeping from between the bushes and dancing down the long
alleys, and the poor little girl was terrified. Did you have a pleasant
Christmas? I had many lovely presents given to me. The other day I had a fine
party. All of my dear little friends came to see me. We played games, and ate
ice-cream and cake and fruit. Then we had great fun. The sun is shining brightly
to-day and I hope we shall go to ride if the roads are dry. In a few days the
beautiful spring will be here. I am very glad because I love the warm sunshine
and the fragrant flowers. I think Flowers grow to make people happy and good. I
have four dolls now. Cedric is my little boy, he is named for Lord Fauntleroy.
He has big brown eyes and long golden hair and pretty round cheeks. Ida is my
baby. A lady brought her to me from Paris. She can drink milk like a real baby.
Lucy is a fine young lady. She has on a dainty lace dress and satin slippers.
Poor old Nancy is growing old and very feeble. She is almost an invalid. I have
two tame pigeons and a tiny canary bird. Jumbo is very strong and faithful. He
will not let anything harm us at night. I go to school every day I am studying
reading, writing, arithmetic, geography and language. My Mother and teacher send
you and Mrs. Hale their kind greetings and Mildred sends you a kiss.
much love and kisses, from your
the winter Miss Sullivan and her pupil were working at Helen's home in
Tuscumbia, and to good purpose, for by spring Helen had learned to write
idiomatic English. After May, 1889, I find almost no inaccuracies, except some
evident slips of the pencil. She uses words precisely and makes easy, fluent
MR. MICHAEL ANAGNOS
Ala., May 18, 1889.
Dear Mr. Anagnos:--You cannot imagine how delighted I was to receive a letter
from you last evening. I am very sorry that you are going so far away. We shall
miss you very, very much. I would love to visit many beautiful cities with you.
When I was in Huntsville I saw Dr. Bryson, and he told me that he had been to
Rome and Athens and Paris and London. He had climbed the high mountains in
Switzerland and visited beautiful churches in Italy and France, and he saw a
great many ancient castles. I hope you will please write to me from all the
cities you visit. When you go to Holland please give my love to the lovely
princess Wilhelmina. She is a dear little girl, and when she is old enough she
will be the queen of Holland. If you go to Roumania please ask the good queen
Elizabeth about her little invalid brother, and tell her that I am very sorry
that her darling little girl died. I should like to send a kiss to Vittorio, the
little prince of Naples, but teacher says she is afraid you will not remember so
many messages. When I am thirteen years old I shall visit them all myself.
thank you very much for the beautiful story about Lord Fauntleroy, and so does
am so glad that Eva is coming to stay with me this summer. We will have fine
times together. Give Howard my love, and tell him to answer my letter. Thursday
we had a picnic. It was very pleasant out in the shady woods, and we all enjoyed
the picnic very much.
is out in the yard playing, and mother is picking the delicious strawberries.
Father and Uncle Frank are down town. Simpson is coming home soon. Mildred and I
had our pictures taken while we were in Huntsville. I will send you one.
roses have been beautiful. Mother has a great many fine roses. The La France and
the Lamarque are the most fragrant; but the Marechal Neil, Solfaterre,
Jacqueminot, Nipheots, Etoile de Lyon, Papa Gontier, Gabrielle Drevet and the
Perle des Jardines are all lovely roses.
give the little boys and girls my love. I think of them every day and I love
them dearly in my heart. When you come home from Europe I hope you will be all
well and very happy to get home again. Do not forget to give my love to Miss
Calliope Kehayia and Mr. Francis Demetrios Kalopothakes.
your little friend,
a good many of Helen Keller's early letters, this to her French teacher is her
re-phrasing of a story. It shows how much the gift of writing is, in the early
stages of its development, the gift of mimicry.
MISS FANNIE S. MARRETT
Ala., May 17, 1889.
Dear Miss Marrett--I am thinking about a dear little girl, who wept very hard.
She wept because her brother teased her very much. I will tell you what he did,
and I think you will feel very sorry for the little child. She had a most
beautiful doll given her. Oh, it was a lovely and delicate doll! but the little
girl's brother, a tall lad, had taken the doll, and set it up in a high tree in
the garden, and had run away. The little girl could not reach the doll, and
could not help it down, and therefore she cried. The doll cried, too, and
stretched out its arms from among the green branches, and looked distressed.
Soon the dismal night would come--and was the doll to sit up in the tree all
night, and by herself? The little girl could not endure that thought. "I
will stay with you," said she to the doll, although she was not at all
courageous. Already she began to see quite plainly the little elves in their
tall pointed hats, dancing down the dusky alleys, and peeping from between the
bushes, and they seemed to come nearer and nearer; and she stretched her hands
up towards the tree in which the doll sat and they laughed, and pointed their
fingers at her. How terrified was the little girl; but if one has not done
anything wrong, these strange little elves cannot harm one. "Have I done
anything wrong? Ah, yes!" said the little girl. "I have laughed at the
poor duck, with the red rag tied round its leg. It hobbled, and that made me
laugh; but it is wrong to laugh at the poor animals!"
it not a pitiful story? I hope the father punished the naughty little boy. Shall
you be very glad to see my teacher next Thursday? She is going home to rest, but
she will come back to me next autumn.
your little friend,
MISS MARY E. RILEY
Ala., May 27, 1889.
Dear Miss Riley:--I wish you were here in the warm, sunny south today. Little
sister and I would take you out into the garden, and pick the delicious
raspberries and a few strawberries for you. How would you like that? The
strawberries are nearly all gone. In the evening, when it is cool and pleasant,
we would walk in the yard, and catch the grasshoppers and butterflies. We would
talk about the birds and flowers and grass and Jumbo and Pearl. If you liked, we
would run and jump and hop and dance, and be very happy. I think you would enjoy
hearing the mocking-birds sing. One sits on the twig of a tree, just beneath our
window, and he fills the air with his glad songs. But I am afraid you cannot
come to Tuscumbia; so I will write to you, and send you a sweet kiss and my
love. How is Dick? Daisy is happy, but she would be happy ever if she had a
little mate. My little children are all well except Nancy, and she is quite
feeble. My grandmother and aunt Corinne are here. Grandmother is going to make
me two new dresses. Give my love to all the little girls, and tell them that
Helen loves them very, very much. Eva sends love to all.
much love and many kisses, from your affectionate little friend,
the summer Miss Sullivan was away from Helen for three months and a half, the
first separation of teacher and pupil. Only once afterward in fifteen years was
their constant companionship broken for more than a few days at a time.
MISS ANNE MANSFIELD SULLIVAN
Ala., August 7, 1889.
Teacher--I am very glad to write to you this evening, for I have been thinking
much about you all day. I am sitting on the piazza, and my little white pigeon
is perched on the back of my chair, watching me write. Her little brown mate has
flown away with the other birds; but Annie is not sad, for she likes to stay
with me. Fauntleroy is asleep upstairs, and Nancy is putting Lucy to bed.
Perhaps the mocking bird is singing them to sleep. All the beautiful flowers are
in bloom now. The air is sweet with the perfume of jasmines, heliotropes and
roses. It is getting warm here now, so father is going to take us to the Quarry
on the 20th of August. I think we shall have a beautiful time out in the cool,
pleasant woods. I will write and tell you all the pleasant things we do. I am so
glad that Lester and Henry are good little infants. Give them many sweet kisses
was the name of the little boy who fell in love with the beautiful star? Eva has
been telling me a story about a lovely little girl named Heidi. Will you please
send it to me? I shall be delighted to have a typewriter.
Arthur is growing very fast. He has on short dresses now. Cousin Leila thinks he
will walk in a little while. Then I will take his soft chubby hand in mine, and
go out in the bright sunshine with him. He will pull the largest roses, and
chase the gayest butterflies. I will take very good care of him, and not let him
fall and hurt himself. Father and some other gentlemen went hunting yesterday.
Father killed thirty-eight birds. We had some of them for supper, and they were
very nice. Last Monday Simpson shot a pretty crane. The crane is a large and
strong bird. His wings are as long as my arm, and his bill is as long as my
foot. He eats little fishes, and other small animals. Father says he can fly
nearly all day without stopping.
is the dearest and sweetest little maiden in the world. She is very roguish,
too. Sometimes, when mother does not know it, she goes out into the vineyard,
and gets her apron full of delicious grapes. I think she would like to put her
two soft arms around your neck and hug you.
I went to church. I love to go to church, because I like to see my friends.
gentleman gave me a beautiful card. It was a picture of a mill, near a beautiful
brook. There was a boat floating on the water, and the fragrant lilies were
growing all around the boat. Not far from the mill there was an old house, with
many trees growing close to it. There were eight pigeons on the roof of the
house, and a great dog on the step. Pearl is a very proud mother-dog now. She
has eight puppies, and she thinks there never were such fine puppies as hers.
read in my books every day. I love them very, very, very much. I do want you to
come back to me soon. I miss you so very, very much. I cannot know about many
things, when my dear teacher is not here. I send you five thousand kisses, and
more love than I can tell. I send Mrs. H. much love and a kiss.
your affectionate little pupil,
the fall Helen and Miss Sullivan returned to Perkins Institution at South
MISS MILDRED KELLER
Boston, Oct. 24, 1889.
Precious Little Sister:--Good morning. I am going to send you a birthday gift
with this letter. I hope it will please you very much, because it makes me happy
to send it. The dress is blue like your eyes, and candy is sweet just like your
dear little self. I think mother will be glad to make the dress for you, and
when you wear it you will look as pretty as a rose. The picture-book will tell
you all about many strange and wild animals. You must not be afraid of them.
They cannot come out of the picture to harm you.
go to school every day, and I learn many new things. At eight I study
arithmetic. I like that. At nine I go to the gymnasium with the little girls and
we have great fun. I wish you could be here to play three little squirrels, and
two gentle doves, and to make a pretty nest for a dear little robin. The mocking
bird does not live in the cold north. At ten I study about the earth on which we
all live. At eleven I talk with teacher and at twelve I study zoology. I do not
know what I shall do in the afternoon yet.
my darling little Mildred, good bye. Give father and mother a great deal of love
and many hugs and kisses for me. Teacher sends her love too.
your loving sister,
MR. WILLIAM WADE
Boston, Mass., Nov. 20, 1889.
Dear Mr. Wade:--I have just received a letter from my mother, telling me that
the beautiful mastiff puppy you sent me had arrived in Tuscumbia safely. Thank
you very much for the nice gift. I am very sorry that I was not at home to
welcome her; but my mother and my baby sister will be very kind to her while her
mistress is away. I hope she is not lonely and unhappy. I think puppies can feel
very home-sick, as well as little girls. I should like to call her Lioness, for
your dog. May I? I hope she will be very faithful,--and brave, too.
am studying in Boston, with my dear teacher. I learn a great many new and
wonderful things. I study about the earth, and the animals, and I like
arithmetic exceedingly. I learn many new words, too. EXCEEDINGLY is one that I
learned yesterday. When I see Lioness I will tell her many things which will
surprise her greatly. I think she will laugh when I tell her she is a
vertebrate, a mammal, a quadruped; and I shall be very sorry to tell her that
she belongs to the order Carnivora. I study French, too. When I talk French to
Lioness I will call her mon beau chien. Please tell Lion that I will take good
care of Lioness. I shall be happy to have a letter from you when you like to
write to me.
your loving little friend,
I am studying at the Institution for the Blind.
letter is indorsed in Whittier's hand, "Helen A. Keller--deaf dumb and
blind--aged nine years." "Browns" is a lapse of the pencil for
JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER
for the Blind, So. Boston, Mass.,
think you will be surprised to receive a letter from a little girl whom you do
not know, but I thought you would be glad to hear that your beautiful poems make
me very happy. Yesterday I read "In School Days" and "My
Playmate," and I enjoyed them greatly. I was very sorry that the poor
little girl with the browns and the "tangled golden curls" died. It is
very pleasant to live here in our beautiful world. I cannot see the lovely
things with my eyes, but my mind can see them all, and so I am joyful all the
I walk out in my garden I cannot see the beautiful flowers but I know that they
are all around me; for is not the air sweet with their fragrance? I know too
that the tiny lily-bells are whispering pretty secrets to their companions else
they would not look so happy. I love you very dearly, because you have taught me
so many lovely things about flowers, and birds, and people. Now I must say,
good-bye. I hope [you] will enjoy the Thanksgiving very much.
your loving little friend,
Mr. John Greenleaf Whittier.
reply, to which there is a reference in the following letter, has been lost.
MRS. KATE ADAMS KELLER
Boston, Mass., Dec. 3, 1889.
Dear Mother:--Your little daughter is very happy to write to you this beautiful
morning. It is cold and rainy here to-day. Yesterday the Countess of Meath came
again to see me. She gave me a beautiful bunch of violets. Her little girls are
named Violet and May. The Earl said he should be delighted to visit Tuscumbia
the next time he comes to America. Lady Meath said she would like to see your
flowers, and hear the mocking-birds sing. When I visit England they want me to
come to see them, and stay a few weeks. They will take me to see the Queen.
had a lovely letter from the poet Whittier. He loves me. Mr. Wade wants teacher
and me to come and see him next spring. May we go? He said you must feed Lioness
from your hand, because she will be more gentle if she does not eat with other
Wilson came to call on us one Thursday. I was delighted to receive the flowers
from home. They came while we were eating breakfast, and my friends enjoyed them
with me. We had a very nice dinner on Thanksgiving day,--turkey and
plum-pudding. Last week I visited a beautiful art store. I saw a great many
statues, and the gentleman gave me an angel.
I went to church on board a great warship. After the services were over the
soldier-sailors showed us around. There were four hundred and sixty sailors.
They were very kind to me. One carried me in his arms so that my feet would not
touch the water. They wore blue uniforms and queer little caps. There was a
terrible fire Thursday. Many stores were burned, and four men were killed. I am
very sorry for them. Tell father, please, to write to me. How is dear little
sister? Give her many kisses for me. Now I must close. With much love, from your
darling child, HELEN A. KELLER.
MRS. KATE ADAMS KELLER
Boston, Mass., Dec. 24, 1889
I sent you a little Christmas box. I am very sorry that I could not send it
before so that you would receive it tomorrow, but I could not finish the
watch-case any sooner. I made all of the gifts myself, excepting father's
handkerchief. I wish I could have made father a gift too, but I did not have
sufficient time. I hope you will like your watch-case, for it made me very happy
to make it for you. You must keep your lovely new montre in it. If it is too
warm in Tuscumbia for little sister to wear her pretty mittens, she can keep
them because her sister made them for her. I imagine she will have fun with the
little toy man. Tell her to shake him, and then he will blow his trumpet. I
thank my dear kind father for sending me some money, to buy gifts for my
friends. I love to make everybody happy. I should like to be at home on
Christmas day. We would be very happy together. I think of my beautiful home
every day. Please do not forget to send me some pretty presents to hang on my
tree. I am going to have a Christmas tree, in the parlor and teacher will hang
all of my gifts upon it. It will be a funny tree. All of the girls have gone
home to spend Christmas. Teacher and I are the only babies left for Mrs. Hopkins
to care for. Teacher has been sick in bed for many days. Her throat was very
sore and the doctor thought she would have to go away to the hospital, but she
is better now. I have not been sick at all. The little girls are well too.
Friday I am going to spend the day with my little friends Carrie, Ethel, Frank
and Helen Freeman. We will have great fun I am sure.
and Miss Endicott came to see me, and I went to ride in the carriage. They are
going to give me a lovely present, but I cannot guess what it will be. Sammy has
a dear new brother. He is very soft and delicate yet. Mr. Anagnos is in Athens
now. He is delighted because I am here. Now I must say, good-bye. I hope I have
written my letter nicely, but it is very difficult to write on this paper and
teacher is not here to give me better. Give many kisses to little sister and
much love to all. Lovingly HELEN.