A nice bit from the introduction of Rebel Lives: Helen Keller

Hubbard concludes that the mythical Helen Keller, “angelic, sexless, deafblind woman smelling a rose as she holds a Braille book on her lap,” has been constructed primarily to impart “a politically conservative moral lesson, one that stress the ability of the individual to overcome personal adversity in a fair world. The lesson we are meant to learn seems to be: ‘Society is fine the way it is. Look at Helen Keller! Even though she was deaf and blind, she worked hard - with a smile on her face - and overcame her disabilities.”

Helen Keller would not have approved of this myth making. The adult Keller recognized that class privilege (her father was a prosperous newspaper editor who could afford to consult Alexander Graham Bell regarding his daughter’s disabilities, and she was also supported financially by benefactors such as the railway magnate Andrew Carnegie) had provided her with opportunities not available to most. “I owed my success partly to the advantages of my birth and environment,” she said. “I have learned that the power to rise is not within the reach of everyone.”