Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Mom Quiz

Helen Keller has fascinated me since I was a child.  She was still alive when I first heard of her, though she was very old and her health was failing.  What moved me about her was not so much her heroism in overcoming her disabilities, but how she symbolized the importance of language and learning, of talking and reading and writing as ways of making sense of the world and making contact with other people.  The famous and defining image of Annie Sullivan spelling W-A-T-E-R into young Helen's hand, leading to the revelation that the signs were connected to the water flowing over her other hand, is for me the key to all this.  So is the fragility of our faculties.  (The film Awakenings, about people who emerged from years of catatonia brought on by encephalitis lethargica to brief periods of awareness, affected me similarly.)

So when I found a copy tonight in a used bookstore of a children's biography of Keller, published in 1958 but kept in print until the early years of this century, it caught my attention.  (The picture above isn't of the copy I found, by the way.)  But what made me decide to buy it was the name of the author, Lorena Hickok.  Does that name ring a bell for anyone else?  Click through to find out who she was.