Beyond the Miracle Worker: The Remarkable Life of Anne Sullivan Macy and Her Extraordinary Friendship with Helen Keller

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Beacon Press, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 299 pages
15 Reviews
After many years, historian and Helen Keller expert Kim Nielsen realized that she, along with other historians and biographers, had failed Anne Sullivan Macy. While Macy is remembered primarily as Helen Keller’s teacher and mythologized as a straightforward educational superhero, the real story of this brilliant, complex, and misunderstood woman, who described herself as a “badly constructed human being,” has never been completely told.  Beyond the Miracle Worker, the first biography of Macy in nearly fifty years, complicates the typical Helen-Annie “feel good” narrative in surprising ways. By telling the life from Macy’s perspective—not Keller’s—the biography is the first to put Macy squarely at the center of the story. It presents a new and fascinating tale about a wounded but determined woman and her quest for a successful, meaningful life.
 
Born in 1866 to poverty-stricken Irish immigrants, the parentless and deserted Macy suffered part of her childhood in the Massachusetts State Almshouse at Tewksbury. Seeking escape, in love with literature, and profoundly stubborn, she successfully fought to gain an education at the Perkins School for the Blind.  As an adult, Macy taught Keller, helping the girl realize her immense potential, and Macy’s intimate friendship with Keller remained powerful throughout their lives. Yet as Macy floundered with her own blindness, ill health, and depression, as well as a tumultuous and triangulated marriage, she came to lean on her former student, emotionally, physically, and economically. Based on privately held primary source material, including materials at both the American Foundation for the Blind and the Perkins School for the Blind, Beyond the Miracle Worker is revelatory and absorbing, unraveling one of the best known—and least understood—friendships of the twentieth century.
  

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Review: Beyond the Miracle Worker: The Remarkable Life of Anne Sullivan Macy and Her Extraordinary Friendship with Helen Keller

User Review  - Phoebe - Goodreads

It was slow, but interesting. Surprisingly led to a pretty good book group discussion! Read full review

Review: Beyond the Miracle Worker: The Remarkable Life of Anne Sullivan Macy and Her Extraordinary Friendship with Helen Keller

User Review  - Goodreads

It was slow, but interesting. Surprisingly led to a pretty good book group discussion! Read full review

Contents

Feeding Hills 18661876
1
Tewksbury Almshouse 18761880
13
Perkins 18801886 Part One
37
Perkins 18801886 Part Two
57
Becoming Teacher 1887
73
Tuscumbia 18881891
93
The Battle for Helen Round 1 18911894
111
The Battle for Helen Round 2 18941900
135
John 19041914
179
On the Road 19141924
201
The American Foundation for the Blind 19241930
225
Concluding 19301936
249
Conclusion
267
Acknowledgments
269
Notes
271
Index
295

Radcliffe 19001904
163

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About the author (2009)

Kim E. Nielsen is an award-winning educator, the recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities We the People stipend, a Fulbright lecturer, the author of many journal articles, and frequent public speaker. Her books include Helen Keller: Selected Writings (2005), The Radical Lives of Helen Keller(2004) and Un-American Womanhood: Antiradicalism, Antifeminism and the First Red Scare (2001). She also served as an advisory editor to the forthcomingEncyclopedia of American Disability History (2009). She lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin where she is Professor of History & Women's Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

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