Ann Sullivan

Ann Sullivan

American educator, was widely known as teacher Helen Keller.
Date of Birth: 14.04.1866
Country: USA

Biography of Anne Sullivan

Anne Sullivan, an American educator widely known as the teacher of Helen Keller, was born on April 14, 1866, in Feeding Hills, Massachusetts. Although her baptismal name was Johanna Mansfield Sullivan, she was called Anne from birth. Her parents, Thomas and Alice Cloesy Sullivan, were poor Irish immigrants who were illiterate.

Ann Sullivan

In 1874, Anne's mother passed away, presumably from tuberculosis, and she was sent to the Tewksbury Almshouse in Massachusetts, which eventually became a hospital that still exists today. She spent four years there.

Ann Sullivan

In 1880, Anne, who had almost lost her sight due to untreated trachoma she contracted in early childhood, was sent to the Perkins School for the Blind. It is worth noting that she underwent several surgeries at the almshouse to improve her vision, but unfortunately, they did not help much. Anne had a younger brother named Jimmie, born in 1869, and two younger sisters, Ellen and Mary.

Ann Sullivan

Michael Anagnos, the director of Perkins, chose Anne Sullivan as a teacher for a deaf-blind girl named Helen Keller and asked the 20-year-old graduate of Perkins if she would like to be Helen's mentor. Sullivan agreed, and this decision marked the beginning of a long and fruitful friendship between the teacher and student, which lasted for 49 years.

Anne arrived at the Keller household in March 1887 and immediately started her duties. She began teaching Helen to communicate using signs, introducing the word "doll" on her hand - the doll Anne brought as a gift. Initially, progress was slow because Helen could not understand that each object corresponds to the word that identifies it. A breakthrough occurred after a month when Helen suddenly realized that Anne's sign combined with cool water meant the concept of "water." After this breakthrough, Helen constantly demanded new words from her teacher.

Anne remained Helen Keller's companion for most of her life, living, working, and traveling together. On May 3, 1905, Anne married John Albert Macy, a Harvard University instructor and literary critic who assisted Keller with her publications. Macy moved in with them, and they lived together for some time. However, after a few years, their marriage began to falter, and in 1914, Sullivan and Macy separated, although they did not officially divorce. In the early years after their separation, Macy even wrote to Anne and asked for money. The 1920 census listed 38-year-old Helen Keller as the head of the apartment she shared with Anne Sullivan, a private teacher who was 52 at the time. John Macy was also listed with them as a tenant, a writer aged 44, but it seems that he had completely disappeared from Anne's life, and she never remarried.

In 1932, both Helen and Anne received honorary membership in the Educational Institute of Scotland, the world's oldest teachers' union. They were also awarded honorary doctorates from Temple University. By 1935, a year before her death, Sullivan had lost her vision completely. She passed away on October 20, 1936, in Forest Hills, New York, at the age of 70, due to complications from a heart condition, with Helen Keller holding her hand. When Keller passed away in 1968, her ashes were placed in the Washington National Cathedral alongside Anne.

Anne Sullivan became one of the characters in William Gibson's play "The Miracle Worker," which was performed in theaters, including Broadway, and adapted for television. In 1962, it was made into a feature film. Television remakes of the film were released in 1979 and 2000. In 2010, a revival of "The Miracle Worker" premiered on Broadway. The first month Anne and Helen spent together became the basis for the book "Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller" by Sarah Miller.

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