Famous throughout the world for its illuminating portrayal of
turn-of-the century life on Prince Edward Island,
the beloved novel
"Anne of Green Gables" has long been regarded as a testament to the
simpler times of days gone by and is revered as a Canadian literary
classic. Written by Lucy Maud Montgomery, who was born and raised on
P.E.I., the novel about an orphan girl's coming of age captures the true
romantic essence of rural life on our fair Island. Drawing on the
stunningly pastoral beauty of P.E.I's natural splendor, Montgomery's
fictional tale has captured the hearts of millions world-wide and in
turn has heightened the sense of rural majesty and timelessness so
intrinsically linked with life in this tiny province.
Born on November 30, 1874 in New London, P.E.I., Montgomery was raised in Cavendish by her grandparents Alexander and Lucy MacNeill. While her strict upbringing didn't allow much social interaction with her peers Montgomery spent much of her time reading and writing, all the while developing a deep love of nature which is evident in many of her books and poems. Her ability to bring to life the landscape of the Island setting in "Anne of Green Gables" displays the affinity Montgomery felt with regards to her home province and serves to elevate the magic and drama of the novel. Like Anne herself, Montgomery was able to find peace and solitude amidst her surroundings which in turn provided a source of inspiration for many of her literary works.
After spending a year with her natural father in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Montgomery returned home to P.E.I. in 1890 and shortly after began attending Prince of Wales College in Charlottetown. Upon completion of her education Montgomery began teaching at a number of schools across the Island. She continued until her grandfather's death in 1898.
Montgomery's decision to write "Anne of Green Gables" occurred as she was looking through an old notebook of hers in 1904. In the notebook was a passage describing an elderly couple's application to an orphan asylum for a boy. By mistake a girl was sent to the couple, and from there a literary heroine was born. First published in 1908, "Anne of Green Gables" was an instant success. Combining the fairytale story of young Anne's life with the dazzling beauty and charming P.E.I. lifestyle characteristic of the era, Montgomery's novel was ordered into a second, third and fourth printing run only three months after its release. In the coming years the novel would be translated into dozens of languages and became not only a national but international best-seller. That Montgomery herself "shared" with Anne such a deep understanding and love of P.E.I's natural landscape exemplifies the personal feelings she utilized while writing the novel. This closeness enhances the overall atmosphere of the story, making it an appealing read for book-lovers of all ages.
"Anne of Green Gables" has enjoyed overwhelming success not only as a novel but as a theatrical production as well. Since 1965 a musical version of Montgomery's masterpiece has served as the cornerstone of the Charlottetown Festival's summertime extravaganza. The large audience's which flock to the Confederation Centre of the Arts each summer are a testament to the timelessness of this wonderful story and aid in preserving Montgomery's legacy. As well, the success of the CBC movie version of "Anne of Green Gables", which made its television debut in 1985 and received nine Gemini Awards, attests to the immense popularity of Montgomery's novel.
Over the course of her life Montgomery published 20 books as well as hundreds of short stories and poems. Her love for her Island home and its people is a fairytale in itself, one which ended when Montgomery passed away in 1942. She was buried in Cavendish Cemetery in a plot she chose herself because "it overlooked the spots I've always loved, the pond, the shore, the sand dunes and the harbour". Forever an Islander, Montgomery's legacy is one of eternal magic and beauty.
Be sure to visit Avonlea: The village of Anne of Green Gables.