Helen Adams Keller was born on 27 June 1880 in Tuscumbia, a small rural town in Northwest Alabama, USA. The daughter of Captain Arthur Henley Keller and Kate Adams Keller she was born with full sight and hearing.
Kate Keller was a tall, statuesque blond with blue eyes. She was some twenty years younger than her husband Captain Keller, a loyal southerner who had proudly served in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War.
The house they lived in was a simple, white, clapboard house built in 1820 by Helen's grandparents. At the time of Helen's birth the family were far from wealthy with Captain Keller earning a living as both a cotton plantation owner and the editor of a weekly local newspaper, the "North Alabamian". Helen's mother, as well as working on the plantation, would save money by making her own butter, lard, bacon and ham.
Helen falls ill
But Helen's life was to change dramatically.
In February 1882, when Helen was nineteen months old, she fell ill. To this day the nature of her ailment remains a mystery. The doctors of the time called it "brain fever", whilst modern day doctors think it may have been scarlet fever or meningitis.
Whatever the illness, Helen was, for many days, expected to die. When, eventually, the fever subsided, Helen's family rejoiced believing their daughter to be well again. However, Helen's mother soon noticed how her daughter was failing to respond when the dinner bell was rang or when she passed her hand in front of her daughter's eyes.
It thus became apparent that Helen's illness had left her both blind and deaf.
The following few years proved very hard for Helen and her family. Helen became a very difficult child, smashing dishes and lamps and terrorising the whole...