by Richelle Sutton, dramaturg
Lucy Maude Montgomery is the author of the Anne of Green Gables series, as well as hundreds of other short stories, essays, and poems. Although her life was not always happy or filled with limitless imaginings, she is still one of the most popularly read authors today. Anne has been loved by audiences worldwide, across years and generations. But to really appreciate the depth of this book, you must look at Montgomery’s own life.
L.M. Montgomery was born in what is now called New London, on Prince Edward Island, but her mother died shortly afterward when Montgomery was only 21 months old. Her father, who was grief-stricken, sent Montgomery up to Cavendish to live with her maternal
grandparents, the MacNeills. Eventually, he moved west to modern Saskatchewan, Canada. Her grandparents were very kindly, but Montgomery’s childhood was quite lonely. She lived close to her aunt and uncle’s house (which would later become the basis of the Green Gables house in the first Anne book) and often visited her cousins, the Campbells, up near North Rustico. (Her cousin’s house was named “Silverbush” and
Montgomery wrote once that it was the most beautiful place she had ever known.) However, she spent a lot of time by herself and she attributed her highly developed imagination and creativity to those solitary times. She had her own imaginary friends that she would talk to constantly, the most notable being Katie Maurice, who lived in the glass doors of the Campbell’s bookcase. This is, in actuality, the same Katie Maurice that Anne sees in Mrs. Thomas’ bookcase in Montgomery’s book.
Montgomery was a prolific journal writer and scrap-booker. Early in her life, she wrote down that she had dreams of future fame. Her favorite thing was writing and although she gained a degree in teaching, becoming a schoolteacher for a few years, she always pursued her love of writing more than anything else. For a time she lived with her father in Saskatchewan and Halifax, Nova Scotia for University. However, she always came back to
her little spot in Cavendish. She would take solitary walks through the fields and woods in the silent countryside and consider the beauty and spiritual power inherent in the natural world around her. These strong emotional feelings became the basis of Anne’s own love of nature.
Her first book, Anne of Green Gables, was published in 1908, which gave her considerable income. From there, her reputation continued to grow. Eventually, she was married to Ewen Macdonald, who was a
prominent Presbyterian minister. They moved to Ontario, where she continued to write and take care of their family. She always regretted leaving Prince Edward Island and often wrote how much she would like to visit the island once again. Years of both her and her husband dealing with depression and war left scars on her soul that she never quite recovered from. She died in April of 1942, an amazing woman leaving behind a far-reaching legacy. Indeed, it can be said that her early visions as a child came true. I’m certain that her name will continue to live on for many, many more generations as people all over the world continue to fall in love with Anne and her wondrous world.