A Sign of Her Own

A Sign of Her Own by Sarah Marsh is a debut novel that takes a fresh look at the legacy of Alexander Graham Bell. In the spring of 1876, Ellen Lark, a young woman on the cusp of getting married, receives a visit from her former teacher, Alexander Graham Bell. Ellen is deaf and, as a child, was taught a method of “visible speech” developed by Bell’s father that discouraged using sign language, often forcibly. When Bell reappears in her life to ask for her support in a patent dispute over his new invention, the telephone, Ellen is torn. Should she speak honestly about Bell’s betrayal of deaf students like her, even if it means putting her impending marriage and her future at risk? Marsh, who is deaf, brings Ellen’s perspective to life vividly and shows how Bell’s obsession with visible speech robbed many of his deaf pupils of the richness and variety of communicating with a fluent, adaptable language.