The episode had a deadening effect on Helen Keller and on Miss Sullivan, who feared that she had allowed the habit of imitation, which has in truth made Miss Keller a writer, to go too far.
Finding that other people seemed to know so much more about Helen Keller than she did, Miss Sullivan kept silent and has been silent for ten years, except for her paper in the first volta Bureau Souvenir of Helen Keller and the paper which, at Dr. Bell's request, she prepared in 1894 for the meeting at Chautauqua of the American Association to Promote the Teaching of Speech to the Deaf.
It is doubtful if we should have heard of Helen Keller if Miss Sullivan had not been where there were other children.
During the first year of her work with Helen Keller, in which she taught her pupil language, they were in Tuscumbia; and when they came North and visited the Perkins Institution, Helen Keller was never a regular student there or subject to the discipline of the Institution.
Miss Sullivan knew at the beginning that Helen Keller would be more interesting and successful than Laura Bridgman, and she expresses in one of her letters the need of keeping notes.
Let me sum up a few of the elements that made Helen Keller what she is.
The names of Laura Bridgman and Helen Keller will always be linked together, and it is necessary to understand what Dr. Howe did for his pupil before one comes to an account of Miss Sullivan's work.
No teacher could have made Helen Keller sensitive to the beauties of language and to the finer interplay of thought which demands expression in melodious word groupings.
Miss Sullivan began to teach Helen Keller on March 3rd, 1887.
But it is also true that, with ten times her native genius, Helen Keller could not have grown to what she is, if she had not been excellently taught from the very start, and especially at the start.