24 Facts About Anne Sullivan


At the age of five, Sullivan contracted trachoma, an eye disease, which left her partially blind and without reading or writing skills.


Anne Sullivan received her education as a student of the Perkins School for the Blind.


Anne Sullivan was the eldest child of Thomas and Alice Sullivan, who had emigrated from Ireland to the United States during the Great Famine.


When she was five years old, Anne Sullivan contracted the bacterial eye disease trachoma, which caused many painful infections and over time made her nearly blind.


Anne Sullivan remained at Tewksbury after his death and endured two unsuccessful eye operations.


In February 1877, Anne Sullivan was sent to the Soeurs de la Charite hospital in Lowell, Massachusetts, where she had another unsuccessful operation.


Anne Sullivan was then transferred back to Tewksbury under duress.

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In 1880, during a subsequent inspection of Tewksbury by Franklin Benjamin Sanborn, now State Inspector of Charities, Anne Sullivan implored of him to allow her to be admitted to the Perkins School for the Blind.


On October 7,1880, Anne Sullivan began her studies at the Perkins School.


The summer after Anne Sullivan had graduated, the director of Perkins School for the Blind, Michael Anagnos, was contacted by Arthur Keller, Helen Keller's father, who was in search of a teacher for his seven-year-old blind and deaf daughter.


Anne Sullivan's curriculum involved a strict schedule, with constant introduction of new vocabulary; however she quickly changed her teaching method after seeing it did not suit Keller.


Anne Sullivan strongly encouraged Helen's parents to send her to the Perkins School, where she could have an appropriate education.


Once they had agreed Anne Sullivan took Keller to Boston in 1888 and stayed with her there.


Anne Sullivan continued to teach her bright protegee, who soon became famous for her remarkable progress.


However an accusation of plagiarism against Keller greatly upset Anne Sullivan: she left and never returned but did remain influential to the school.


Anne Sullivan remained a close companion to Keller and continued to assist in her education, which ultimately included a degree from Radcliffe College.


On May 3,1905, Anne Sullivan married Harvard University instructor and literary critic John Albert Macy, who had helped Keller with her publications.


When she married, Anne Sullivan was already living with Keller as her personal teacher, so Macy moved into the household of both women.


In 1932, Keller and Anne Sullivan were each awarded honorary fellowships from the Educational Institute of Scotland.


In 2003, Anne Sullivan was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.


Anne Sullivan had been seriously visually impaired for almost all of her life, but by 1901, after having a stroke at age 35, she became completely blind.


Keller described Anne Sullivan as being very agitated during her last month of life, but during the last week, she was said to return to her normal generous self.


Anne Sullivan was cremated and her ashes interred in a memorial at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC She was the first woman to be recognized for her achievements in this way.


Anne Sullivan is the main character in The Miracle Worker by William Gibson, originally produced for television in 1957, in which she was portrayed by Teresa Wright.