The Miracle Worker by William Gibson

I read this short play in one sitting, with a slight break to find some tissues. To be honest, while I knew who Helen Keller was, I’ve never really thought much about her life, about how amazing it truly was that her teacher found a way to reach her.  Both of them, Helen and her teacher Annie Sullivan were simply remarkable women. According to the author’s note, the play for the most part was based on Annie’s own letters from the time.

The play opens with Helen’s parents discovering that following an illness, their baby can neither see nor hear them. Helen, with no way to interact with the world around her becomes a violent, angry undisciplined girl.

When her parents have almost given up, talking about sending her to an institution, a letter they sent to the Perkins Institution in Boston is answered. Annie Sullivan arrives to teach Helen. At only 21 and half-blind herself, Annie truly is a miracle worker.  Despite Helen’s tantrums and struggles, Annie will not give up on her.

She has to learn that everything has its name! That words can be her eyes, to everything in the world outside her, what is she without words? With them she can think, have ideas, speak, be reached, there’s not a thought or fact in the world that can’t be hers. (pg. 101)

I’m tearing up now, just thinking of the story. It’s heart-breaking and full of hope. And the break-through, arriving after so much work and patience, is astounding. The play itself is short and we already know the ending, but the journey is unforgettable.

First published in 1956
131 pages

Challenges: 100+, Women Unbound

I borrowed my copy from the library and the above is my honest opinion. I am an Amazon associate.


  • I think I cried when I first read this, too. It was so amazing to me that Annie Sullivan could reach into that dark place the child inhabited and touch her soul, show her how to communicate and put names to things in the world. Especially at a time when people thought deaf/mute children were just idiots. Amazing.

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