- NAME: Anne Sullivan
- OCCUPATION: Educator
- BIRTH DATE: April 14, 1866
- DEATH DATE: October 20, 1936
- EDUCATION: Perkins School for the Blind
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Feeding Hills, Massachusetts
- PLACE OF DEATH: Forest Hills, New York
- Full Name: Johanna Mansfield Sullivan Macy
- AKA: Johanna Sullivan
- AKA: Anne Sullivan
- Maiden Name: Johanna Mansfield Sullivan
Best Known For
Anne Sullivan was a teacher who, at age 21, taught Helen Keller, who was deaf, mute, and blind, how to communicate and read Braille.
Helen Keller lost her sight and hearing when she was only 19 months old. With the help of her teacher, Anne Sullivan, she learned to read and speak.
On March 3rd, 1887, Anne Sullivan arrived at the Keller's home in Alabama to work with their deaf and blind daughter, Helen. Through their work together, Helen Keller would go on to become one of the most influential people in history.
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Around 1913 or 1914, Sullivan's marriage broke up. Macy went to Europe, but the two never divorced. Sullivan began to experience health problems, and Polly Thomson became Keller's secretary. The three women eventually took up residence in Forest Hills, New York.
The trio struggled to make ends meet. In 1919, Sullivan played herself in the first film version of her life in order to gain more income. Deliverance proved to be a box office failure, and she and Keller ended up touring on the vaudeville theater circuit to earn money. They shared their story of triumph with fascinated audiences for years.
By the late 1920s, Sullivan had lost most of her vision. She experienced chronic pain in her right eye, which was then removed to improve her health. For several summers, Sullivan visited Scotland, hoping to restore some of her strength and vitality.
Sullivan died on October 20, 1936, at her home in Forest Hills, New York. Her ashes were placed at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.—a distinct honor, as it is also the final resting place of President Woodrow Wilson and other distinguished individuals. At her funeral, Bishop James E. Freeman said, "Among the great teachers of all time she occupies a commanding and conspicuous place. . . . The touch of her hand did more than illuminate the pathway of a clouded mind; it literally emancipated a soul."
Sullivan's story lives on through film and theatrical productions. Her work with Keller was immortalized in the play The Miracle Worker, which was later turned into the 1962 film starring Patty Duke as Keller and Anne Bancroft as Sullivan. The latest Broadway revival of the show debuted in 2010, and features Abigail Breslin as Keller and Alison Pill as Sullivan.
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