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Lucy Maud Montgomery, known as
Maud, was born in Clifton, Prince Edward Island, Canada,
in November 1874.
Her mother died when Montgomery was almost two years old. Her father
remarried, and Montgomery spent her childhood with her grandparents
in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island. In 1911,
she married Reverend Ewen Macdonald and moved to Leaskdale, Ontario,
where she raised three children before moving with her family to
Norval, Ontario, in 1926.
Montgomery died in Toronto in 1942 and is
buried in Cavendish.
As a child, Montgomery read as much as she could. At
that time, novels were considered inappropriate reading material
for children. In an article titled “The Story of My Career,” Montgomery
wrote that the only novels kept in her grandparents’ house were Rob
Roy by Sir Walter Scott, The Pickwick Papers by
Charles Dickens, and Zanoni by Edward Bulwer-Lytton.
She had unrestricted access to poetry, however, and reveled in the
works of such English poets as John Milton and Lord Byron. This
early immersion in poetry likely influenced Montgomery’s writing
style, which is poetic and descriptive. Montgomery recalls the day
she wrote her first poem, at age nine. Her father happened to visit
her that day, and when she read the poem to him, he said unenthusiastically
that the unrhymed lines did not sound much like poetry. Montgomery
persevered despite his lukewarm reception; a few years later she
published a poem in a local newspaper.
By the time she married at age thirty-seven, Montgomery
had already established herself as an author. She kept a notebook
in which she jotted down plots as they occurred to her, and while
looking through this notebook, she found the following idea: “Elderly couple
apply to orphan asylum for a boy. By mistake a girl is sent them.”
From these fragments, Montgomery concocted her first novel, Anne
of Green Gables, which was published in 1908.
Historical and geographical setting plays a significant
role in Anne of Green Gables. Several times, characters
voice their Canadian pride, often in ways that modern audiences
might find old-fashioned or even offensive. Mrs. Rachel Lynde, the
most politically inclined character, espouses the ideas of the Liberal
Party, which argued for a decentralized Canadian government that
would preserve autonomy in the Canadian provinces. She and Marilla
Cuthbert voice their distrust of foreigners and Catholics. Apart
from politics, geography influences the pastoral world in which
Anne lives. Many of the places in the fictional town of Avonlea
come from Montgomery’s childhood in Cavendish. Montgomery loved
the beauty of Prince Edward Island, and Anne, like her creator,
has a passionate attachment to nature and finds comfort in the outdoors when
her family life torments her.
Anne of Green Gables marked the beginning
of Montgomery’s prolific writing career and the first in a succession
of novels centered on young, adventurous female protagonists. After
the success of Anne of Green Gables, Montgomery
went on to write seven more novels about Anne, following the protagonist
through adulthood and motherhood. Several novels in the Anne series
have been adapted and made into a successful television miniseries.
Montgomery’s work has been translated into several languages, and
Montgomery museums, plays, and houses on Prince Edward Island draw international
Ace your assignments with our guide to Anne of Green Gables!