"COME FOR A 'WINTER HOUR' INTO MY WORLD": FIRST EDITION OF THE WORLD I LIVE IN, WONDERFULLY INSCRIBED TO AMERICAN WRITER AND DIPLOMAT ROBERT UNDERWOOD JOHNSON BY HELEN KELLER
KELLER, Helen. The World I Live In. New York: Century, 1908. Octavo, original gilt-stamped green cloth, top edge gilt, uncut. $3800.
First edition of Keller's most heartfelt book, written to benefit the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, with four photographic plates of Helen Keller, inscribed to American writer and diplomat Robert Underwood Johnson referencing the name of his own poetry book, The Winter Hour: "To Mr Johnson. Come for a 'Winter Hour' into my world. Helen Keller."
"While Helen Keller is better known for The Story of My Life, her later book, The World I Live In, is a warmer, more intimate and more beautiful work, one in which we encounter Helen Keller's remarkable imagination, her originality, and her power as a literary artist. She comes alive here, vividly and idiosyncratically, more than in any other of her writings" (Oliver Sacks). "The World I Live In (1908), one of [Helen Keller's] most critically acclaimed books, was intended to assist the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind, to which she had been appointed in 1906… Within a generation of her death, most Americans had come to agree that the severely handicapped, while entitled to special public and private considerations, were not in any other respects necessarily limited in their capacities. Such a notion would have been unthinkable in 1880. To a significant if immeasurable degree, Helen Keller's private ordeal and public career helps account for this transformation… most saw her and her principal teacher as a symbol of human potential and the indomitability of the spirit." (ANB). Without rare dust jacket. This copy is inscribed to Robert Underwood Johnson and also bears his bookplate. Johnson is best known as the early 20th-century editorial chair of The Century Magazine, a position he assumed after an extended period on its staff and as an associate editor. Johnson also wrote and edited for Scribner's Monthly. Through The Century Magazine, Johnson became a friend of John Muir and, together, the two helped to create Yosemite National Park and worked to form the Sierra Club. Johnson remained involved in publishing and was influential on the literary scene, boasting accomplishments such as helping to pass the international copyright law of 1891, persuading Grant to write his Memoirs, assuming the position of permanent secretary of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and turning the rooms in Rome where Keats spent his final days into a museum. Toward the end of his life, Johnson became Ambassador to Italy, largely due to his humanitarian efforts directed toward Italy during World War I. Here, Helen Keller has cleverly written "Come for a 'Winter Hour' into my world," referencing The Winter Hour, Johnson's 1892 book of poetry, also published by Century.
Front inner paper hinge split, repair to spine head, light wear and mild toning to spine. An extremely good inscribed copy with an outstanding provenance.