Lost history made ‘Visible’

Jun 08, 2017
Source: perkins.org Laura Bridgman

Thomaston — The Thomaston Intergenerational Book Club will discuss “What is Visible” by Kimberly Elkins Tuesday, May 20, at 2:30 p.m. in the main room of the library, located in the Thomaston Academy building on Main Street/Route 1.

This vividly original literary novel based on the astounding true-life story of Laura Bridgman, the first deaf and blind person who learned language and blazed a trail for Helen Keller. At age 2, Bridgman lost four of her five senses to scarlet fever. At 7, she was taken to Perkins Institute in Boston to determine if a child so terribly afflicted could be taught. At age 12, Charles Dickens declared her his prime interest for visiting America. And by 20, she was considered the 19th century's second most famous woman, having mastered language and charmed the world with her brilliance.

The book’s intriguing cast of characters includes the founder of Perkins Institute, Samuel Gridley Howe, with whom Bridgman was in love; his wife, the glamorous Julia Ward Howe, a renowned writer, abolitionist and suffragist; Bridgman's beloved teacher, who married a missionary and died insane from syphilis; an Irish orphan with whom Bridgman had a tumultuous affair; Annie Sullivan; and even the young Helen Keller. Given her worldwide fame in the 19th century, it is astonishing that Bridgman has been virtually erased from history.

On the third Tuesday of every month, the Intergenerational Book Club, a group of men and women of all ages, comes together at the library to share opinions and ideas about the book selection. Extra copies of the books are purchased by the Friends of the Thomaston Public Library from the Annual Appeal funds; and copies are also available on the library's circulating e-readers.

All are welcome. Those who live in Thomaston and would like to attend but need a ride should call the library at 354-2453 a week before the discussion. The selection for July 18 is “Love That Boy” by Ron Fournier. For the complete list of all the IGBC books chosen for 2017, visit thomaston.lib.me.us.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or dernest@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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