The Adventures and Loves of Anne Shirley of Avonlea

From the time it was first published in 1908, Anne of Green Gables, written by author Lucy Maud Montgomery (frequently credited as L.M. Montgomery), has been a story loved by readers of all ages. It has been read in schools around the country and the world, for years and promises to remain a staple in libraries and schools for years to come, along with each of it's sequels about the Anne girl and her many adventures and triumphs.

The Author

Lucy Maud Montgomery was born on November 30th, 1874 in what is now New London, Prince Edward Island, to Clara Woolner Macneill Montgomery, and Hugh John Montgomery. Lucy Maud's mother Clara, dies when Maud (as she was referred to by friends and family) was not even two years old. After her mother's death she lived with her father until she was seven years old when her father moved to Saskatchewan and she was sent to live with her grandparents. In 1890 she moved back in with her father and stepmother until 1891 when she once again returned to the home of her grandparents.

Montgomery obtained a teaching certificate in 1893 after attending Prince of Whales College in Charlottetown. She studied literature at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia from 1895-1896.

The first short story to be published by Montgomery was published in 1897 when she began to have a variety of her writings published in magazines and newspapers. By 1907 over 100 short stories had been published.

Beginning in 1901 Lucy Maud worked for the Halifax newspapers Echo, and Chronicle. She returned to live with her now widowed grandmother on Prince Edward Island in 1902, where she began writing her first novel, Anne of Green Gables. In 1911 she married Ewan MacDonald and relocated to a home in Ontario where Ewan was a minister in the local Presbyterian church. The couple had three children, all boys, one of which was stillborn.

L. M. Montgomery died in 1942. Her cause of death is, to this day, a cause of debate. At the time of her death it had been reported that Montgomery died of congestive heart failure, but in 2008 her granddaughter came forward claiming that her grandmother had actually committed suicide by overdosing on pills. Author Mary Rubio has a different opinion and believes that the supposed suicide note was actually written to be an entry in Lucy Maud's journal.

At the time of Lucy Maud Montgomery's death she had published a total of 20 novels, an autobiography, and more than 500 short stories, as well as a book of poetry. Her wake was held in Green Gables farmhouse and she was later buried in Cavendish Community Cemetery.

The Books

The series of books about Lucy Maud's most believed character, Anne Shirley, is referred to by many simply as "The Anne Books". The series contains the famous Anne of Green Gables (published 1908) and it's 8 sequels; Anne of Avonlea (published 1909), Anne of the Island (published 1915), Anne of Windy Poplars (published 1936), Anne's House of Dreams (published 1917), Anne of Ingleside (published 1939), Rainbow Valley (published 1919), Rilla of Ingleside (published 1921), and the final novel in the series The Blythes Are Quoted (published 2009), which she completed just before her death.

In each of the books the infamous redhead, Anne Shirley, is a central character. Throughout each of the books you see Anne's evolution as a character as she ages and matures by enduring hardships and happiness.

  • Anne of Green Gables (1908) - In the first book of the series we are introduced to the 11 year old orphan Anne Shirley. The first book focuses mainly on Anne adjusting to life in Avonlea after accidentally being taken in by the siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, who had intended to take in a boy to help Matthew on the Green Gables Farm. Anne, impulsive and stubborn as can be, has several misadventures and heartaches. She makes friends she vows to be true to forever, and enemies she swears she will never forgive.

  • Anne of Avonlea (1909) - The second of the Anne books features Anne as a spirited and romantic school teacher in Avonlea . After being given charge of the Avonlea school in an act of generosity by Anne's once rival Gilbert Blythe, we see Anne and Gilbert's relationship begin to evolve. Anne can also be seen helping Marilla raise her newly adopted twins, Davy and Dora who were taken in after Marilla's third cousin, the mother of the twins, dies.M

  • Anne of the Island (1915) - After leaving her position as school teacher in Avonlea , Anne and Gilbert depart their home town in order to attend Redmond College. It is while in college we see the relationship between Gilbert and Anne truly begin to blossom... and to fall apart.

  • Anne of Windy Poplars (1936) - The fourth book in the series gives the reader a look into what happened between Anne's graduation from Redmond and her marriage to future doctor Gilbert Blythe. Anne once again takes a job teaching, as the principal of Summerside High School, all the while learning to interact and appease the well-to-do and unwelcoming Pringle family, who makes up a large part of the school population. As expected, Anne's enthusiastic and somewhat dramatic personality wins over the community, so much so that when she goes to return to Avonlea to marry Gilbert, even the Pringles, and Anne's stuffy colleague Katherine Brooke admit to how much they will miss her.

  • Anne's House of Dreams (1917) - After many years we are finally able to see Anne and Gilbert marry and begin a family of their own. Anne's perfect life in her "house of dreams" has it's heartaches however, when the Blythe's first child, Joyce, dies in infancy. Later however Anne and Gilbert welcome their first son, Jem, who is beautiful and healthy.

  • Anne of Ingleside (1939) - The sixth book in the Anne series takes place seven years after Anne's House of Dreams, and the Blythe family home is a busy place with five energetic and happy children. During the course of the novel Anne and Gilbert welcome their youngest daughter Rilla, and face a new strain on their relationship when Anne starts to worry that Gilbert is no longer in love with her. During this time the family also has to endure a long and trying visit by Gilbert's Aunt.

  • Rainbow Valley (1939) - Focusing more on the Blythe children, Rainbow Valley shows the kindness of the Blythe children as they play with a group of four siblings who have unfairly obtained a wild and unfavorable reputation in the community. Together they befriend an orphaned girl and form the "Good Conduct Club".

  • Rilla of Ingleside (1921) - The Blythe children have all grown up and it is now Rilla's turn to take center stage. The book takes place during World War I with Rilla's brothers taking up arms and enlisting. Rilla organises the "Junior Red Cross society" and while working comes across a baby boy whose mother has died, and whose father is in the military. She brings him home and raises him herself. During this time Rilla also falls in love with Kenneth Ford and eventually becomes engaged to him.

Film and Television

While Anne of Green Gables has been made into a handful of films and television shows, the most famous are probably the 1985 Kevin Sullivan television movie miniseries Anne of Green Gables starring Megan Follows as Anne. The film was a great success and Disney Channel decided to follow it up with the 1987 Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel (originally titled Anne of Avonlea: The Continuing Story of Anne of Green Gables). In 2000 the story continued with the Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story miniseries.

Other productions of Anne of Green Gables include a 1919 silent film starring Mary Miles Minter as Anne, and the 1934 production starring Dawn O'Day as Anne who later changed her stage name to be the same as the feisty redhead she portrayed, Anne Shirley.

Anne's Relationships

Anne Shirley is a talkative dreamer who loves to read, talk, dream, and is constantly keeping everyone around her on their toes. From the very start she wins her way into the heart of elderly Matthew Cuthbert as she prattles on during their first meeting and the trip to her new home at Green Gables farm. While Marilla Cuthbert needs a bit more time to adjust, eventually she to grows to love Anne as dearly as if she was her own flesh and blood. This seems to be much the same for the rest of the Avonlea inhabitants including Gilbert Blythe.

Gilbert Blythe is fascinated by the redheaded Anne Shirley and in an attempt to talk to her during Anne's first day at school he tries to get her attention by calling her "Carrots". Anne is very sensitive about her hair. She can imagine away all the rest of her shortcomings but her hair she can not. She gets so upset over Gilbert's unintentional insult that she smashes her school slate over his head. For the next several years, no matter how many times Gilbert apologizes she simply will not forgive him. Even after being saved from a performance of The Lady of Shalott by Tennyson that went terribly wrong, she still will only remain at the very least civil to poor Gilbert. It isn't until after Matthew Cuthbert dies of a heart attack and in an act of kindness Gilbert gives Anne the teaching position in the Avonlea school in order for her to remain with Marilla that their friendship begins to blossom.

As Anne's story continues we see her refuse Gilbert's proposal of marriage and find her ideal beau, Roy Gardner, only to find that she doesn't love him when he also proposes to her, and that she does in fact love Gilbert. They go on to marry and have 7 children together.

Romantically it is the relationship of Anne and Gilbert that stands out the most, but Anne forms tight bonds with many other characters in the stories including her "bosom friend" Diana Berry, the nosey Rachel Lynde, and many more.

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