Did you know that Mark Twain was a fanboy for Helen Keller? What is it about curmudgeons and blind women?
Here is a letter from Twain to Kellerhttp://www.braillebug.org/hktwain.asp
My favorite bits:
1. block quote start
I must steal half a moment from my work to say how glad I am to have your book and how highly I value it, both for its own sake and as a remembrance of an affectionate friendship which has subsisted between us for nine years without a break and without a single act of violence that I can call to mind. I suppose there is nothing like it in heaven; and not likely to be, until we get there and show off. I often think of it with longing, and how they'll say, "there they come--sit down in front." I am practicing with a tin halo. You do the same.
block quote end
I expect that it was this sort of encouragement which resulted in J. Edgar Hoover keeping a file on Keller...
2. block quote start
Oh, dear me, how unspeakably funny and owlishly idiotic and grotesque was that "plagiarism" farce! As if there was much of anything in any human utterance, oral or written, except plagiarism! The kernel, the soul--let us go farther and say the substance, the bulk, the actual and valuable material of all human utterances in plagiarism. For substantially all ideas are second hand, consciously or unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources and daily use by the garnerer with a pride and satisfaction born of the superstition that he originated them; whereas there is not a rag of originality about them any where except the little discoloration they get from his mental and moral calibre and his temperament, which is revealed in characteristics of phrasing.
When a great orator makes a great speech you are listening to ten thousand men--but we call it his speech, and really some exceedingly small portion of it is his. But not enough to signify. It is merely a Waterloo. It is Wellington's battle, in some degree, and we call it his but there were others that contributed. It takes a thousand men to invent a telegraph or a steam engine, or a phonograph, or a telephone, or any other important thing--and the last man gets the credit and we forget the others. He added his little mite--that ninety-nine parts of all things that proceed from the intellect are plagiarisms, pure and simple; and the lesson ought to make us modest. But nothing can do that.
block quote end
3. Oh, and here is my favorite Mark Twain quote about Keller:
Blindness is an exciting business, I tell you; if you don't believe it get up some dark night on the wrong side of your bed when the house is on fire and try to find the door.
- quoted by Helen Keller, Midstream
from this page on Mark Twain quotes about Helen Kellerhttp://www.twainquotes.com/Keller_Helen.html
4. And last, but not least, here is an online exhibit about Twain and Keller, their friendship, and parallels in each of their liveshttp://www.historyofredding.com/epl/twain-keller-exhibit.htm