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The rustle of a star: an annotated bibliography of deaf characters in fiction.


This article presents a bibliography of 136 works of fiction, published in English, which feature deaf characters. It is divided into sections: novels for adult readers (fifty-six entries), short stories (thirty-nine entries), fiction - young adults and older children (twenty-five entries), and books for youlg children (sixteen entries). Drama and poetry are not included. To aid in collection development, the item's status in print is indicated.


On His Deafness

My ears are deaf, and yet I seem to hear Sweet Nature's music and the songs of Man, For I have learned from Fancy's artisan How written words can thrill the inner ear Just as they move the heart, and so for me They also seem to ring out loud and free. In silent study, I have learned to tell Each secret shade of meaning and to hear A magic harmony, at once sincere, That somehow notes the tinkle of a bell, The cooing of a dove, the swish of leaves, The rain-drop's pitter-patter on the eaves, The lover's sigh, the thrumming of guitar And, if I choose, the rustle of a star!

This bibliography is divided into four sections: (1) novels for adult readers, (2) short stories, (3) fiction for young adults and older children, and (4) books for young children. It is a bibliography of prose works only; drama and poetry have not been included.

The bibliography has been compiled with a number of possible purposes in mind, the first of which is collection development. To this end, the asterisk that precedes many of the entries indicates that the item is still in print, though perhaps not in the edition examined by the compiler. Also many of the entries are "classics" or from anthologies that both public and academic libraries may already own, but which might not have been accessible when searching for books with deaf characters.

Second, it is hoped that readers of the novels and short stories collected here will begin to see patterns emerge as they analyze the roles and positions of the deaf characters. Deaf characters are often used, by hearing authors, as symbols of alienation. Perhaps the most extreme example of an author using deafness to emphasize a character's alienation from society is Crews's Gypsy's Curse, in which the deaf character is not only deaf but has no legs and a number of other disabilities. Alternatively, hearing authors use deaf characters as sources of a special knowledge unavailable to hearing people who are too involved in the clamor of life. Two examples of this are McCullers's first novel, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, and Babcock's short story, Gargoyle.

The compiler does not have the expertise to do much more than mention these attitudes toward deaf characters; readers interested in analyses of this sort should look at Bateson and Bergman's (1985) anthology Angels and Outcasts. A similar analysis of deaf characters in children's fiction was written by Albert V. Schwartz (1980).

This bibliography contains entries from a 300-year period. During this time the vocabulary used to define people who are deaf and deafness has changed, particularly in the last few decades as deaf people have taken more control of describing their own circumstances. The annotations are consistent in using the words deaf or hearing impaired to describe the conditions of a profound lack of hearing or a partial lack of hearing respectively. The phrase "without speech" is used for those characters who do not communicate with their voices. Phrases like "deaf and dumb" and "deaf mute" are not only inaccurate but are perceived as insulting and they have therefore been placed in quotation marks when they have been used by the author in the story. One of the best - and best written - examples of this kind of inaccuracy is Welty's short story, The Key, in which the two deaf characters are described as "deaf-mutes" although they are the only characters who actually communicate during the story.

Authors have also shown a great deal of confusion and ignorance about sign languages. If an author identifies a sign language as American Sign Language (ASL), for instance, that term is used in the annotation. If, as is more common, an author merely uses the term "sign language" as if there were only one, then the annotation reflects this terminology.

Entries for this bibliography were selected from books in the National Technical Institute of the Deaf (NTID) collection of Wallace Library at the Rochester Institute of Technology and from Wallace Library's general collection; through online searches of Books in Print (1991) and Modern Languages Association databases; and with the aid of two excellent anthologies of deafness in literature. The first, Angels and Outcasts, has been noted earlier; the second, The Quiet Ear: Deafness in Literature (Grant, 1987), does not include any critical commentary but draws its excerpts not only from prose, but also from poetry, drama, biography, and letters.

Novels for Adult Readers

Adams, Isabel. (1928). Heart of the Woods: A Story of Life Among the Habitants in the Laurentian Foot-Hills. New York: Century.

The wife of a college professor triumphs over her deafness with her amazing lipreading abilities in both French and English.

Andrew, Prudence. (1961). Ordeal by Silence: A Story of Medieval Times. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons.

Philip was the illegitimate deaf son of a priest and a noblewoman. His deafness is viewed as a punishment for his parent's illicit affair, but his kindness touches the lives of many people who, after his death, want to make him a saint.

Ayrton, Elizabeth. (1963). The Cretan. London, England: Hodder & Stoughton.

Arcas is a member of the resistance to the Nazi occupation of the island of Crete. He is deafened in an explosion, and, in his bitterness and frustration, he becomes an outlaw.

Battad, Hester Parsons. (1973). Road Girl. Long Beach, CA: Collins Printing Co.

This is the witty account of a woman's travels with her deaf daughters. She educates them through travel and adventure, encouraging them to be all they potentially can be.

Biggle, Lloyd. (1971). Silence is Deadly. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.

Twenty agents of the ruling Galactic Synthesis are seemingly victims of the planet Kamm's death ray. Jan Darzek is sent to find out how such a primitive culture could produce such a weapon. All life forms on Kamm are deaf. As Darzek pursues his mission, he learns to appreciate the importance of color, scent, and touch on Kamm, and he comes closer to the answer to the mystery of the death ray and the silent planet.

* Bowen, Elizabeth. (1968). Eva Trout; Or, Changing Scenes. New York: Knopf.

Eva, a millionaire heiress, adopts Jeremy, who is deaf and without speech. He eventually murders her in this novel of miscommunication (see also Bowen's short stories in the next section).

* Brookner, Anita. (1984). Hotel Du Lac. New York: Pantheon.

Brookner's beautiful and insightful writing includes a scene with the minor character Mme. Bonneuil, a deaf woman who is also a resident of the hotel.

* Bullard, Douglas. (1986). Islay: A Novel. Washington, DC: Gaullaudet.

Lyson Sulla dreams of creating the State of Islay, a state governed by and for the deaf. This novel chronicles Sulla's journey across America to persuade deaf people to join him. He meets the best and the worst in deaf communities and eventually overcomes attempts to stop the use of American Sign Language and attempts to destroy his idea. One of the most interesting aspects of this novel is Bullard's attempt to differentiate in print among spoken English, ASL, and TDD communication.

* Calisher, Hortense. (1969). The New Yorkers. Boston, MA: Little, Brown.

While in the arms of her lover, Judge Mannix's wife is shot by her daughter Ruth. The shooting is presented from many viewpoints, including that of the judge's deaf son David. This family chronicle is set in New York City between 1943 and 1955.

* Collins, Wilkie. (1854). Hide and Seek: Or, the Mystery of Mary Grice. London, England: R. Bentley.

This novel was highly praised by Dickens. It depicts Victorian methods of education for the deaf. The idea for a deaf central character is thought to be due to the influence of John Kitto's book, Lost Senses.

* Conrad, Joseph. (1958). Under Western Eyes. New York: New Directions.

As punishment for betraying a famous revolutionary, Razumov the spy is deafened - and thus rendered useless as a spy - by the terrorist Nikita.

* Cookson, Catherine. (1974). Our John Willie. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill.

Willie is deaf. In a novel set in nineteenth-century England, he and his brother are orphaned after a mining accident. Their lives are irrevocably changed by Miss Peamarsh.

* Cookson, Catherine. (1973). The Mallen Girl. New York: E. P. Dutton.

Barbara Mallen is a spoiled demanding deaf girl. She can speak and lipread and eventually learns sign language. At the age of nineteen, she receives a severe blow to her head and regains her hearing.

Creasey, John. (1961). Deaf, Dumb, and Blonde. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.

Creasey's hero is offered a fabulous gold encrusted egg by a hideous old man and his beautiful "deaf-dumb" daughter. In this mechanical and predictable thriller, she only gets to marry one of the good guys after she regains her hearing.

Crews, Harry. (1974). Gypsy's Curse. New York: Knopf.

Marvin has no legs and is deaf. He is a gymnast. Hester, his lover, is the "curse." Her actions lead to imprisonment for Marvin and death and injury for his friends.

* Defoe, Daniel. (1720). The History of the Life and Adventures of Mr. Duncan Campbell: A Gentleman Who Tho' Deaf and Dumb, Writes Down Any Stranger's Name at First Sight; With Their Future Contingencie of Fortune. London, England: E. Curll (reprints from University Microfilms, Ann Arbor, MI).

Campbell, based on a real person, is the son of a Scottish gentleman and a rich lady of Lapland. He is deaf and makes his fortune in London by describing the characters of strangers and predicting their fortunes. As in Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, there are lots of adventures, much humor, and many exotic locations. There is some doubt about whether Defoe or William Bond is the author.

Des Cars, Guy. (1952). The Brute (M. Luke, Trans.). London, England: Wingate.

Vauthier, the "brute," is deaf, blind, and without speech. He confesses to a murder, and most of this novel describes the courtroom drama of his defense, which is based upon Vauthier's sense of smell and touch.

* Dexter, Colin. (1977). The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn. New York: St. Martin's.

Quinn, a deaf English scholar, is murdered. Inspector Morse suspects Quinn's colleagues. Quinn's deafness plays an integral part in the plot. The novel was made into an episode of the PBS series "Mystery." Note: Colin Dexter became deaf in his twenties. Many of his mysteries include thoughtful portrayals of hearing-impaired characters.

Field, Rachel. (1942). And Now Tomorrow. New York: MacMillan.

In a New England mill town, Emily Blair becomes deaf after a severe illness. With the aid of a doctor and a philosophy of "and now tomorrow," she regains her hearing. Her love life is less successful.

Fletcher, W. (1843). The Deaf and Dumb Boy, a Tale: With Some Account of the Mode of Educating the Deaf and Dumb. London, England: John W Parker (reprints from University Microfilms, Ann Arbor, MI, 1976).

Little Jack was born deaf. Surgery cures him, and he becomes a partner in a law firm. The book contains much interesting commentary on nineteenth-century British attitudes toward deafness.

Goulet, John. (1975). Oh's Profit. New York: William Morrow.

"Oh" is a gorilla who is taught to use and understand sign language. As he communicates with the humans around him, including his deaf keeper, he becomes weary of their destructive relationships and becomes a menace to those he observes and understands. The researchers decide to kill him.

Greenberg, Joanne. (1970). In This Sign. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Greenberg traces the relationship between Janice and Abel, both deaf, and their hearing daughter, Margaret. Janice and Abel often feel angry and isolated from the hearing society around them but share sign language. Margaret's attempts to cope with divergent loyalties and desires are brought to a head by her brother's death.

* Greenberg, Joanne. (1988). Of Such Small Differences. New York: Henry Holt.

This is the story of Leda and John, who are deaf and blind, and how they fall in love. It is another Greenberg emotional roller coaster. Note: Greenberg, under the pseudonym Hannah Green, wrote I Never Promised You a Rose Garden. See also her short stories in the following section.

* Hemingway, Ernest. (1940). For Whom the Bell Tolls. New York: Scribners.

Robert Jordan meets a Republican guerilla leader called "El Sordo" (the "Deaf One").

Hill, Pamela. (1980). Fire Opal. New York: St. Martin's.

In this historical romance set in Victorian Scotland and in the sixteenth-century Ottoman empire, the deaf heroine, Fiona, leads a second life as the gorgeous Fiametta.

* Hugo, Victor. (1941). The Hunchback of Notre Dame. New York: Modern Library.

This is the classic tale of Quasimodo, a hideously deformed foundling deafened by the bells of Notre Dame Cathedral. Quasimodo was raised by the priest Claude Frollo and fell in love with the gypsy dancer Esmeralda.

Hunter, Evan. (1960). The 87th Squad: Two Full-length Inner Sanctum Mysteries. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Two full-length Ed McBain mysteries are included in this volume. The first, The Con Man, is McBain at his best. Teddy Carella, the deaf wife of McBain's hero, solves the crime and gets the tattoo! Note: Teddy Carella features in many of the Ed McBain stories. Hunter also has a hearing-impaired character called "The Deaf Man."

Joseph, Marie. (1983). The Listening Silence. New York: St Martin's.

In World War II Liverpool, England, Sally Barnes is deaf and tragically in love with two airmen.

Laurence, Maureen. (1969). The Tunnel. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.

In flashbacks and short scenes, this novel recounts the story of a working class woman's life in the North of England. One part of the dark constricted "tunnel" of her life is the birth and death of her child. The child is deaf and has no outer ears.

Lewis, Hildred. (1973). Day is Ours. London, England: Hutchinson.

Tamsie Garland is born deaf. Her parents send her away to boarding school where she learns to lip-read and speak quite well. She also becomes a painter. Unfortunately, her hands are injured in a bombing raid on England during World War II.

* Livingston, Jack. (1982). A Piece of the Silence: A Murder Mystery. New York: St. Martin's.

Will Binney's superb lipreading skills be enough to save him after he finds his client's wife floating dead in the pool? This is the first Joe Binney murder mystery.

Livingston, Jack. (1984). Die Again Macready. New York: St. Martin's.

Private investigator Joe Binney's deafness is no impediment to his solving the mystery of why Macready's accountant hung himself after absconding with a quarter of a million dollars.

Long, Bud. (1977). Case of the Los Angeles Chameleon: Featuring Comrade Dolgov of the KGB. Dallas, TX: Gluxit.

The narrator of this short novella, who is deaf, aids the KGB's top agent in his hunt for a Nazi war criminal in Los Angeles. The story includes discussions of the discrimination against deaf people in America.

* McCullers, Carson. (1940). The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. New York: Houghton-Mifflin.

McCullers, in her first novel, uses a deaf character who is without speech as the recipient of the thoughts and secrets of some of the residents of a small southern town. When the novel was first published, Richard Wright praised McCullers's realistic development of her African-American characters.

Marlowe, Stephen. (1972). Colossus, a Novel About Goya and a World Gone Mad. New York: Macmillan.

Goya became deaf late in his life, and some people have used this to explain his dark satiric vision. This Gothic romance is set in Goya's Spain of the eighteenth and nineteenth century. It has love, blood, sex, and the Napoleonic Wars.

Monsarrat, Nicholas. (1953). The Story of Esther Costello. New York: Knopf.

Esther Costello is blind, deaf, and without speech as a result of a grenade explosion. She is adopted by a woman who provides treatment and training for her. They begin to tour the country promoting better understanding of disabled people. This becomes a full-time business and produces lots of money. Greed eventually overtakes the original intention.

* Nabokov, Vladimir V. (1958). Lolita. New York: Putnam.

Lolita's husband, Dick, is deaf. Humbert is, of course, jealous and spiteful.

* Norris, Carolyn B. (1976). Island of Silence. New York: Popular.

In this romantic thriller, Leslie Falon arrives on a Florida Island to teach American Sign Language to Keegan Howell who lost his hearing during the Vietnam War. But she learns more than he does, especially about her attitudes toward her deaf sister and deaf people in general.

Norris, Carolyn B. (1981). Signs Unseen, Sounds Unheard. Eureka, CA: Alinda.

This is the heart-rending tale of a deaf boy forced, unsuccessfully, by his father to become oral. The father's need for a "normal" son leads to abuse and a suicide attempt. This crisis enables the boy, with the help of his babysitter and a signing friend, to escape back to his mother.

Norris, Carolyn B. (1982). A Breath of Paradise. New York: Simon and Schuster.

This historical romance, set in Victorian England and the Australian colonies, includes scenes in a school for the deaf where children are taught sign language.

Ogilvie, Elizabeth. (1973). Strawberries in the Sea. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Edwin is deaf and an artist. He is moody and reclusive with everyone but his cousin, Rosa. He communicates by writing notes rather than by using sign language or speech.

* Queen, Ellery. (1933). Drury Lane's Last Case: The Tragedy of 1599. Boston, MA: Little, Brown.

Drury Lane, the world's greatest Shakespearian actor, became deaf at the height of his career. He learns to lip-read - "an art in which he became remarkably proficient." He takes up detective work to enliven his retirement and agrees to help Inspector Thrumm and his daughter Pat solve one last case.

Richards, Judith. (1977). Sounds of Silence. New York: Putnam.

In this novel of Gothic horror, housekeepers quit because of things that go "thump" in the house. So Aramenta hires Virgil, a deaf writer, because he will not hear the thumps. But Virgil plots revenge for himself and the creature against Aramenta, a representative of the hearing world. The novel includes sympathetic portrayals of Virgil's deafness.

Riddell, Florence. (1934). Silent World. London, England: Geoffrey Bles.

A deaf man regains his hearing after a car accident. Upon entering the "hearing world," he divorces his deaf wife, leaving her to raise their deaf child alone.

Rowland, Alison. (1977). Light My Candle. Ilfracombe, England: Stockwell.

Lex Milburn is a writer who has been deafened by gunfire during World War I. He struggles to build upon the success of his first novel.

* Salinger, Jerome D. (1963). Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters, and Seymour: An Introduction. Boston, MA: Little, Brown.

The first of these two novellas has an important character who is deaf and communicates with notes and gestures.

* Seelye, John D. (1972). The Kid. New York: Viking.

In Wyoming in 1887, a Black man and a white "kid" come to town. The Black man kills a local racist and is tried for murder. More killings occur and the kid," presumed to be a boy, turns out to be a deaf girl.

* Smith, Martin Cruz. (1981). Gorky Park. New York: Random.

The woman who plays the records for skaters in the park is deaf, and so she did not hear the shots that begin Detective Arkady's journey from Moscow to Staten Island.

Stewart, Dwight. (1973). Acupuncture Murders. New York: Harper & Row.

Sampson Trehune is deaf and a collector of rare books. His friend, Dr. Robert Able, is a psychiatrist and interpreter for the deaf. Able counsels Trehune, basing his diagnosis on behavior which reflects the deaf in various situations.

* Trevor, William. (1969). Mrs. Eckdorf in O'Neill's Hotel. New York: Viking.

Mrs. Sinnott is deaf and communicates using notes written in a series of notebooks. She keeps these and thus even the most inconsequential communication is stored and can be retrieved.

* Trumbo, Dalton. (1933). Johnny Got His Gun. New Jersey: Lyle Stuart.

Joe Bonham loses all four limbs, has his face blown away, and loses his sight and hearing in a bombing raid. This novel depicts Joe's thoughts while in the hospital. He learns to communicate by tapping his head against the wall.

* Turgenev, Ivan S. (1987). Mumu. New York: Blackwell.

Gerasim is a deaf serf of a rich Muscovite. Gerasim has a dog, Mumu, which disturbs his mistress' sleep, and Gerasim is ordered to kill the dog. Eventually, Gerasim decides that life at his mistress' Moscow house is too much trouble and he returns to his village.

* Twain, Mark. (1985). The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Jim tells the tale of his daughter, who becomes deaf after a bout of scarlet fever.

* Varley, John. (1988). The Persistence of Vision. New York: ACE.

Varley won the Nebula and the Hugo Awards for this depiction of a Utopia for those who cannot hear or see. The inhabitants communicate by the language of "Touch."

West, Paul. (1976). Gala. New York: Harper & Row.

Wight Declius and his deaf daughter, Mandy, construct an illuminated model of the Milky Way in the basement. It is a metaphor for human communication and imagination.

Yankowitz, Susan. (1976). Silent Witness. New York: Knopf.

Anna is deaf and without speech. She knows the man she loves does not love her. When she is found beside his dead body, she is tried for murder and sentenced to life in prison. The novel concerns what Anna does and does not experience in society and in a women's prison.


Babcock, Edwina Stanton. (1922). Gargoyle. In E. J. O'Brien (Ed.), Best Short Stories of 1920 and the Yearbook of the American Short Story (pp. 12-35). Boston, MA: Small, Maynard.

"Gargoyle," the gardener's son, is born deaf and is without speech. He is allowed to run wild on the estate. He gains his hearing and learns to speak in his teens. His parent's rich employers hope that his early experiences have put him in touch with some knowledge outside of that which can be taught.

Barnard, Marjorie Faith. (1963). Speak to Me. In B. James (Ed.), Australian Short Stories (pp. 78-94). New York: Oxford University Press.

A surgeon communicates with a blinded patient who is deaf using sign language on his hand. The reassurance this gives the patient reminds the surgeon of his own son's lonely wartime death in captivity.

Bowen, Elizabeth. (1941). Summer Night. In Look at All Those Roses. New York: Knopf.

During a young woman's nighttime drive, the lives of her friends and relatives combine in unusual ways. One of the group is deaf and the night reminds her of an old lover.

* Cohan, Tony. (1975). The Prodigy. In Nine Ships. Los Angeles, CA: Acrobat Books.

A blind painter becomes a pianist and a deaf pianist becomes a painter.

Crompton, Richmal. (1922). The Christmas Present. In E. J. O'Brien & J. Cournos (Eds.), The Best British Short Stories of 1922 (pp. 86-90). Boston, MA: Small, Maynard.

The women in the Crewe family have a history of deafness which frustrates their husbands' attempts to get the women to fetch and carry for them. One Christmas, an aunt gives Mary a present. To note what that present was would spoil the surprise.

Dario, Ruben. (1937). The Deaf Satyr. In B. H. Clark & M. Lieber (Eds.), Great Short Stories of the World: A Collection of Complete Short Stories Chosen From the Literatures of All Periods and Countries (pp. 923-926). New York: Literary Guild of America.

This is a sensual story, from this Nicaraguan writer, of a satyr made deaf by Apollo. The satyr rules the woods and refuses Orpheus entry because he cannot hear his beautiful music.

Dawkins, Cecil. (1963). Eminent Domain. In The Quiet Enemy (pp. 3-29). New York: Atheneum; London, England: Andre Deutsch.

Since the old Black woman became deaf, she has learned to interpret the world solely through her sense of sight. Then she meets the devil.

* Dickens, Charles. (1901). Dr. Marigold's Prescriptions. In Christmas Books, Christmas Stories. Boston, MA: Dana Estes & Co.

Dr. Marigold, an itinerant salesman - or cheap jack - adopts Sophy, an orphan who is deaf and without speech. This story is all one would expect from Dickens - excellent storytelling and lots about signing and nineteenth-century deaf education, too.

Elliott, George P. (1961). Miss Cudahy of Stowes Landing. In Among the Dangs: Ten Short Stories (pp. 84-108). New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

An architectural historian visits an old house and becomes involved with the deaf charge of the curmudgeonly owner.

* Fuller, Anna. (1969). Aunt Betsy's Photographs. In Pratt Portraits: Sketched in a New England Suburb (pp. 1-27). Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries.

Betsy's deafness is less a disability than her family's low expectations for their deaf relative. She escapes these expectations only once - when she has her photograph taken.

Garrett, George. (1960). An Evening Performance. In M. Foley & D. Burnett (Eds.), The Best American Short Stories, 1960 (pp. 102-111). Boston, MA: Houghton-Mifflin.

Stella, the daredevil high diver, is deaf. Her performance changes a small town forever.

* Gbadamossi, Rasheed A. (1969). The Sexton's Deaf Son. In C. Angoff & J. Povey (Eds.), African Writing Today: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Zambia (pp. 121-124). New York: Manyland.

In this Nigerian story, a young boy learns how intolerant people can be of difference, including deafness.

* Greenberg, Joanne. (1972). And Sarah Laughed. In Rites of Passage (pp. 119-132). New York: Holt Rinehart and Winston.

This perceptive short story is unusual in that it places the hearing Sarah and her difficulties adjusting to her deaf family at the center of the tale. Note: This short story has the two same characters as Greenberg's novel, In This Sign.

* Gordimer, Nadine. (1956). Charmed Lives. In Six Feet of the Country. New York: Simon & Schuster; London, England: Gollancz.

The story depicts the frustrations of a deaf Lithuanian watchmaker in South Africa.

Hallet, Richard Matthews. (1921). The Harbor Master. In E. J. O'Brien (Ed.), Best Short Stories of 1921 (pp. 207-239). Boston, MA: Small, Maynard.

The harbor master takes in the deaf daughter of a wayward seafaring woman.

Harte, Bret. (1964). The Younger Miss Pipel In Stories of the Early West: The Luck of Roaring Camp, and 16 Other Exciting Tales of Mining and Frontier Days. New York: Platt & Munk.

Delaware, the youngest daughter of Judge Piper, is hearing impaired and very independent. She defies her father, saves the town picnic, and marries a shopkeeper who goes on to become a U.S. Senator.

* Hemingway, Ernest. (1933). A Clean, Well-Lighted Place. In Winner Take Nothing. New York: Scribners.

The old deaf patron of the cafe is the subject of a conversation between two waiters late at night.

Kantor, MacKinlay. (1944). Joth Countryman Retires. In Author's Choice: 40 Stories by MacKinlay Kantor (pp. 12-18). New York: Coward-McCann.

Joth is a veteran of the Civil War. He is getting deaf in his old age and his comrades think he should retire from the band. He confounds them all.

* Kenyon, Charles F. (1971). The Deaf-Mute of Kilindir. In Tales of a Cruel Country (pp. 245-258). Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries.

The deaf servant's signed explanation of the infidelity of his master's wife cannot compete with the wife's spoken explanation and the servant is exiled.

Kim, Tongni. (1974). Portrait of a Shaman. In P. H. Lee (Ed.), Flowers of Fire: Twentieth-Century Korean Stories (pp. 58-90). Honolulu, HI: University Press of Hawaii.

In this Korean short story, a deaf artist visits the narrator's house. She paints a picture which inspires the story.

Kliewer, Warren. (1964). The Sibyl. In The Violators: Short Stories. Francestown, NH: Marshall Jones.

Maria has been deaf since her brother, John, left the small Mennonite community in Manitoba. As the family waits for the train bringing John back, Maria draws pictures which seem to foretell the future.

* Malamud, Bernard. (1973). Talking Horse. In Rembrandt's Hat. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

Goldberg is deaf and without speech. He is the master of a talking horse in a circus. Or is he master of a man trapped in a horse?

Meynell, Viola. (1924). We Were Just Saying. In E. J. O'Brien & J. Cournos (Eds.), Best of British Short Stories of 1924 (pp. 159-167). Boston, MA: Small, Maynard.

Bertha Coombe is deaf and has become a burden on her hearing relative. The story of her father's death is recounted in her presence but without her knowledge. This is an excruciatingly painful story of one person's cruelty to another.

Montague, Margaret Prescott. (1915). Closed Doors: Studies of Deaf and Blind Children. Boston, MA: Houghton-Mifflin.

Montague presents a collection of short stories about the students at a school for the deaf and the blind.

Nabokov, Vladimir V. (1973). Breaking the News. In A Russian Beauty and Other Stories. New York: McGraw-Hill.

This is the story of Eugenia Isakovna Mints, an elderly deaf Russian emigre. Her friends have to tell her of the death of her only son.

Pentecost, Hugh. (1962). A Kind of Murder. In E. Queen (Ed.), Ellery Queen's Mystery Mix ... #18 (pp. 66-74). New York: Random.

A hearing-impaired teacher is tormented by his students.

Peterkin, Julia Mood. (1970). Over the River. In E Durham (Ed.), The Collected Short Stories of Julia Peterkin (pp. 99-112). Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina.

A deaf woman goes over the river to find the father of her child. She has mistaken his lust for love. He refuses to acknowledge her, and she kills the baby.

* Post, Judith. (1988). No Handicap. In I. Zahara (Ed.), Womansleuth Anthology: Contemporary Mystery Stories by Women (pp. 93-101). Freedom, CA: Crossing.

Colleen, who is deaf, uses her lipreading skills and a TDD to help catch a gang of drug pushers.

Rinehart, Mary Roberts. (1919). God's Fool. In Love Stories (pp. 175-218). New York: Grosset & Dunlap.

"The Dummy" is deaf and without speech. He does odd jobs in a hospital, which is the setting for this rather sentimental story of a prostitute's salvation.

Seabright, Idris. (1954). The Listening Child. In A. Boucher & J. F. McComas (Eds.), Best From Fantasy and Science Fiction (pp. 82-93). Boston, MA: Little, Brown.

Timmy is deaf but he "hears" death minutes before it arrives and is thus able to save his friend. The story is reminiscent of Poe.

Slosson, Anne T (1929). Clavis. In A. Jessup (Ed.), Representative Modern Short Stories (pp. 561-570). New York: Macmillan.

Slossen writes an almost Nietzschean story of a man and his quest for meaning with the deaf girl, Clavis.

* Stafford, Jean. (1969). Beatrice Trueblood's Story. In The Collected Stories of Jean Stafford (pp. 385-405). New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Beatrice becomes deaf to escape her fiancee's vicious tongue. She succeeds in avoiding a bad marriage only to regain her hearing and marry another nagging husband.

Toman, Walter. (1959). At the Dances of the Deaf-Mutes. In A Kindly Contagion. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill.

This story tells how people who are deaf give people who are blind sight, how people who are blind give people who are deaf music, and how everyone's dancing improves.

* Villiers de L'Isle-Adam, Auguste, Comte de. (1963). Unknown Woman. In Cruel Tales. New York: Oxford University Press.

A young nobleman falls in love with a beautiful woman at the opera. But she will not marry him because she is deaf and he would come to despise her.

* Wang, Chen-Ho. (1976). An Oxcart for Dowry. In J. S. M. Lau (Ed.), Chinese Stories from Taiwan 1960-70 (pp. 75-100). New York: Columbia University Press.

Wan-fa is the butt of village jokes because he is hearing impaired and his wife is unfaithful.

* Welty, Eudora. (1936). The Key. In A Curtain of Green. New York: Harcourt, Brace.

Welty tells the beautiful little story of a couple whom Welty terms "deaf-mutes" but who are the only people to communicate in the whole story, as they attempt to make the once-in-a-lifetime journey to Niagara Falls.

Wilkins, Mary E. (1927). A New England Prophet. In H. W. Lanier (Ed.), The Best Short Stories of Mary E. Wilkins. New York: Harper & Bros.

A deaf boy aids his father in his unfulfilled prophecy.

Yurick, Sol. (1972). Tarantella. In Someone Just Like You. New York: Harper & Sons.

A little girl with a hearing aid dances to the music of a street musician. After awhile she steals the show.


Young Adult and Older Children

* Andrews, Jean F. (1988). The Flying Fingers Club. Washington, DC: Kendall Green.

This is the first in the "Flying Fingers" series. Matt and Donald meet and Matt teaches Donald some signs. Together they solve the mystery of the newspapers which keep on disappearing from Susan's paper route.

* Andrews, Jean F. (1990). The Secret in the Dorm Attic. Washington, DC: Kendall Green.

In another "Flying Fingers Club" Mystery, Donald and Matt discover strange things in the dorm attic of Matt's school. As with the whole series, lots of American Sign Language and information about deafness is presented in an exciting format.

* Andrews, Jean F. (1991). Hasta Luego, San Diego. Washington, DC: Kendall Green.

In the third adventure for the "Flying Fingers Club," Matt and Donald foil a plot to steal rare cockatoos from the San Diego Zoo. The story also includes some discussion of child abuse.

Baker, Margaret J. (1973). The Sand Bird. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

Three children, one of whom is hearing impaired, find a magic glass ornament at a jumble sale. But their wishes always have unexpected and complicated consequences.

Bianki, Vitali. (1967). Ears in a Bag. In How I Wanted to Pour Salt on a Rabbit's Tail & Other Stories (pp. 51-62). New York: George Braziller.

In this delightful collection of stories about the Russian countryside, Bianki tells of the hunter Inotar's encounter with an angry bear which left him deaf. His deafness does not stop him from hunting, however.

Bunting, Eve. (1981). The Waiting Game. New York: J. P. Lippincott.

Three high school seniors are the driving force behind their football team. One of them is deaf. As they decide on their futures after high school, they explore their special friendship.

Carroll, Cathryn. (1991). Laurent Clerc: The Story of His Early Years. Washington, DC: Kendall Green.

Carroll presents a fictional account of Clerc's early life, from his entry into the Royal National Institute for the Deaf in Paris to his departure for America. Clerc helped Thomas Gallaudet set up schools for the deaf in America.

Corcoran, Barbara. (1976). A Dance to Still Music. New York: Atheneum.

Margaret becomes deaf after an illness. Depressed about her deafness and her family's move to Florida from Maine, she runs away and begins an exciting life with Josie on a houseboat in the Florida Keys.

Dunbar, Joyce. (1985). Mundo and the Weather-Child. London, England: Heinemann.

This well-told story tells how Edmund, with the aid of his imaginary companion, comes to understand his sudden deafness.

Hallman, Ruth. (1981). Breakaway. Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press.

Rob becomes deaf after a diving accident. His mother's attempts to protect him stifle his development. His girlfriend, Kate, persuades Rob to run away from home and helps Rob learn to live a full life.

Hanlon, Emily. (1979). The Swing. Scarsdale, NY: Bradbury Press.

Beth is deaf and Danny is having problems with his stepfather. They both use the swing which hangs from an old oak tree between their houses as a place to get away from their troubles, but neither wants to share this special place.

* Hodge, Lois L. R. (1987). A Season of Change. Washington, DC: Kendall Green.

Biney is thirteen and deaf. She hates people treating her as though she is stupid and cannot do things for herself. She proves them wrong by rescuing an injured friend.

Kerr, E. M. (1975). Is That You Miss Blue? New York: Harper & Row.

Flanders has a rotten time at boarding school after her unconventional childhood and her parents' separation. One of her fellow boarders is deaf.

Konigsburg, E. L. (1976). Father's Arcane Daughter. New York: Atheneum.

The author takes an unusually sophisticated look at a brother's strained relationship with his deaf sister.

* Levinson, Nancy Smiler. (1990). Annie's World. Washington, DC: Kendall Green.

Annie, who is sixteen and deaf, hates the idea of leaving her special school and being "mainstreamed" when her father moves to a new job. She learns to accept and be accepted after dealing with a break-in at school.

Pollock, Penny. (1982). Keeping It Secret. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons.

Wisconsin is her name and her favorite state. So she is unhappy when her family moves to New Jersey. "Wis" is determined that no one at her new school will see her hearing aids. Unfortunately, this creates even more difficulties in making friends.

Quinn, Patrick J. (1991). Matthew Pinkowski's Special Summer. Washington, DC: Kendall Green.

One of the friends Matthew meets during this summer of adventures is Laura. Laura is deaf and is staying with her overprotective relatives.

* Riskind, Mary. (1981). Apple is My Sign. Boston, MA: Houghton-Mifflin.

Set in the early 1900s in Philadelphia, this is the story of Harry and his experiences when he arrives at a school for the deaf for the first time. The author makes a good attempt to translate sign language into English.

Robinson, Veronica. (1966). David in Silence. Philadelphia, PA: J. B. Lippincott.

The children of an English Midlands town learn to accept and appreciate David, who is deaf.

* Rosen, Lillian. (1981). Just Like Everybody Else. New York: Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich.

Jenny becomes deaf at fifteen. She feels alone and bewildered. It is her friendship with Joe, who has been deaf since birth, that shows her how to cope with being different.

* Scott, Virginia M. (1986). Belonging. Washington, DC: Kendall Green.

Gustie Blaine was a successful popular fifteen year old when she became deaf after contracting meningitis. It takes the support of family, friends, and teachers to make her realize that she still has choices and can live a full and happy life.

West, Jerry. (1962). The Happy Hollisters and the Haunted House Mystery. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.

Charles, their new deaf friend, provides the Hollisters with a secret language - sign language - to help them in their detective work.

Wojciechowska, Maia. (1968). A Single Light. New York: Harper & Row.

A deaf girl finds a priceless statue in the church of her Andalusian village; it changes the village.

Wright, Anna Maria Rose. (1962). Land of Silence. New York: Friendship.

Toby hates school until he finds a special class for deaf children. Helping in this class gives him a reason to stay on at school.

Yates, E. (1953). Hue and Cry. New York: Coward-McCann.

"Hue and Cry" is an organization devoted to catching horse thieves in the 1800s. Fifteen-year-old Melody Austin is deaf. She devises a plan to hide a handsome horse thief. They fall in love and the thief turns himself in so that Melody can get the reward money and go to school to learn a formal method of communication.

Books for Young Children

Bloom, Freddy. (1977). The Boy Who Couldn't Hear. London, England: Bodley Head.

Mark was born deaf. His mother explains to some hearing children about his hearing aid and how he communicates. Mark and these children become friends. The work is well illustrated by Michael Charlton.

* Bridges, Christina. (1982). The Hero. Northridge, CA: Joyce Media.

Jacob gets left out of many activities because he is deaf but he is the only person who can read lips and is able to tell the police about a robber's hideout. Everyone is proud of him. The book is illustrated by Linda Batten and Christian Bridges.

Cole, Sheila R. (1974). Meaning Well. New York: Franklin Watts.

Illustrated by Paul Raynor, this is a story about peer pressure and how cruel eleven year olds can be to one another.

* Fournier, Dorothy. (1982). The Search. Northridge, CA: Joyce Media. Laura loses her hearing aid at a campsite. She is surprised when everyone helps her search for it and she realizes that people do not regard her deafness as a reason for not liking her. Walt Fournier is the illustrator.

* Golder, Stephen, & Memling, Lisa. (1988). Buffy's Orange Leash. Washington, DC: Kendall Green.

Buffy is a hearing-ear dog. Mary Ramsey illustrates this story which describes Buffy's selection, training, and how he helps the family he lives with.

Hamilton, Ron. (1983). Alan and the Baron. Silver Spring, MD: National Association of the Deaf.

Alan loves to help Mr. Williams train his horse, "Whata Baron." One day, Mr. Williams takes Alan to the track. Baron is not in top form and Alan, despite his deafness, is able to discover what is wrong and help Baron win the race. This is one of the few children's books with a deaf African-American character. It is illustrated by Peggy Boughman Deal.

* Hirsch, Karen. (1981). Becky. Minneapolis, MN: Carolrhoda Books.

When Becky, a deaf child, comes to live with a hearing family while she attends school, the narrator resents her. But she learns to appreciate Becky's special problems, and they become good friends. Jo Esco illustrated the story with line drawings.

* LaMore, Gregory S. (1981). Now I Understand. Washington, DC: Kendall Green.

When Jeff, who is hearing impaired, arrives in class, the other children are confused. Mr. Mayhew teaches them about deafness and hearing impairment and everyone, including Jeff, learns a lot.

* Levi, Dorothy. (1989). A Very Special Friend. Washington, DC: Kendall Green.

Frannie is sad because she does not have a friend her own age. When six-year-old Laura moves into the neighborhood, things look up. But Laura is deaf. It takes awhile for Frannie to learn that Laura can "talk" using sign language and they can be very special friends. Illustrations are by Ethel Gold.

* Litchfield, Ada B. (1989). A Button in Her Ear. Chicago, IL: Albert Whitman.

Angela Perkins often misunderstands what people are saying. Her parents suspect hearing impairment, and the story describes how she is tested and fitted for a hearing aid. The story is illustrated in color throughout by Eleanor Mill.

* Litchfield, Ada B. (1980). Words in Our Hands. Chicago, IL: Albert Whitman.

Michael is a hearing child with deaf parents. This story explains the embarrassments and love felt by Michael toward his parents and the everyday problems and pleasures of his life especially when the family moves to a new town. It is well illustrated by Helen Cogancherry.

Maupin, Diana. (1981). Deaf Eagle and the Bank Robber. Washington, DC: Pre-College Programs, Gallaudet College.

Superhero Deaf Eagle captures the bank robber and enjoys life - comic book style! Drawings are by Rick Clark.

* Talbott, Michael. (1982). My Treasure is My Friend. Northridge, CA: Joyce Media.

This is the story of the friendship between two boys, one hearing and one deaf. The author includes lots of information about signing and some about baseball.

* Talbott, Michael. (1982). Somethin'. Northridge, CA: Joyce Media.

Patty is three years old and deaf. Her mother tells her she is "really something." Patty sets out to discover what "something" is.

Wahl, Jan. (1978). Jamie's Tiger. New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich.

Jamie becomes deaf after a bout of German measles. He is frightened by this change, but he never loses hope. With the help of his family and a stuffed tiger, he struggles to recreate his happy life. Illustrations by Tomie de Paola make this well constructed story even better.

* Zelonky, Joy. (1980). I Can't Always Hear You. Milwaukee, WI: Raintree Childrens Books.

Kim is hearing impaired. She has to go to a regular school after attending a special school. At first she thinks she is the only person who is different and is afraid that other children will make fun of her. She finds out, however, that everyone is different in some way. Barbara Bejna's and Shirlee Jensen's illustrations are excellent and clear but full of quirky details.


Bateson, T, & Bergman, E. (Eds.). (1985). Angels and outcasts: An anthology of deaf characters in literature. Washington, DC: Gallaudet College Press. Grant, B. (1987). The quiet ear: Deafness in literature. London, England: Deutsch. Schwartz, A. V. (1980). Books mirror society: A study of children's materials. Bulletin, 11(1/2),19-24.
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Author:Miller, Jonathan
Publication:Library Trends
Article Type:Bibliography
Date:Jun 22, 1992
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