NC Literary Hall of Fame



Letters from Red Farm: The Untold Story of the Friendship between Helen Keller and Journalist Joseph Edgar Chamberlin by Elizabeth Emerson

University of Massachusetts Press
$90.00, hardcover / $24.95, paperback / also in e-book
ISBN: 978-1-62534-617-9
September, 2021
Nonfiction: New England History / Disability / Biography
Available from your local bookstore or

"Emerson's delight in her discoveries is clear from the start, as she captures Chamberlin's role in Keller's life and offers a helpful interpretation of its importance. Those interested in journalism will find the stories of Chamberlin's work and his journalistic voice on social issues fascinating."
—Leah Blatt Glasser, author of In a Closet Hidden: The Life and Work of Mary E. Wilkins Freeman

"The book immediately draws the reader in, as Emerson's personal connection to Chamberlin makes her a unique guide through the material. Her descriptions, observations, and explication are smart, well-written, and propel the reader forward. It's a captivating, well-told story."
—Patricia J. Fanning, author of Artful Lives: The Francis Watts Lee Family and Their Times

In 1888, young Helen Keller traveled to Boston with her teacher, Annie Sullivan, where they met a man who would change her life: Boston Transcript columnist and editor Joseph Edgar Chamberlin. Throughout her childhood and young adult years, Keller spent weekends and holidays at Red Farm, the bustling environment where avant-garde writers, intellectuals, artists, and social reformers of the day congregated. Keller eventually called Red Farm home for a year when she was sixteen.

Informed by previously unpublished letters and extensive research, Letters from Red Farm explores for the first time Keller's deep and enduring friendship with the man who became her literary mentor and friend for over forty years. Written by Chamberlin's great-great granddaughter, this engaging story imparts new insights into Keller's life and personality, introduces the irresistible Chamberlin to a modern public, and follows Keller's burgeoning interest in social activism, as she took up the causes of disability rights, women's issues, and pacifism.

Elizabeth Emerson is a former grant writer and award-winning artist based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She is the great-great granddaughter of Joseph Edgar Chamberlin, whose forty-year friendship with Helen Keller is explored in the forthcoming book, Letters from Red Farm. She has contributed material to the PBS film biography, Becoming Helen Keller, and has written guest articles for the American Foundation for the Blind's Helen Keller Archive and the Perkins School Archives.

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