L.M. Montgomery - Anne of Green Gables

A video talk

Did you know that Anne of Green Gables was turned down by several publishers before it was accepted and published in 1908? Since then it has become one of the world’s best-selling novels, and it has been translated into over 36 languages. The musical version is Canada’s longest-running musical, and the novel has had a significant impact on the tourism revenues of Prince Edward Island.

What is it about this story of a red-haired orphan which has appealed across cultures and generations? Why are so many readers inspired by Anne – her mistakes, her imagination, her courage, her deep responses to nature and to literature?

And who was the woman behind the book? Let me introduce you to her.

A young girl without parents

L.M. Montgomery (always known as Maud) lost her parents when young and was brought up by her strict Presbyterian grandparents. She longed for literary fame and was making good money from stories, poems and articles when she sat down to try her hand at a novel. Maud married a minister (who was NO Gilbert Blythe!) and had two sons. She lived much of her adult life away from her beloved Prince Edward Island, but almost always returned to it in her fiction.

Did you know that Maud preferred her heroine Emily to Anne and that she wrote some of the later Anne books reluctantly, giving in to public demands for more? And have you read her book about Anne’s daughter, Rilla of Ingleside – now considered one of the finest books ever written about WWI and its effect on women waiting at home?

“Nations grow in the eyes of the world less by the work of their statesmen than their artists. Thousands of people all over the globe are hazy about the exact nature of Canada’s government and our relation to the British Empire, but they have clear recollections of ‘Anne of Green Gables’.”
― Robertson Davies

Shaped by dramatic landscapes

Extraordinary landscapes often inspire extraordinary books. Long cold winters seem to be the perfect background (and perhaps cause?) for murders. It’s a memorable experience following in the footsteps of gifted crime writers and their characters. Henning Mankell’s Ystad, Gunnar Staalesen’s Bergen, Camilla Lackberg’s Fjällbacka, Jo Nesbo’s Oslo – these are just a few of the cities associated with murder and detection. Lonely Planet ranks the ‘Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ guided walk in Stockholm as the ‘No 1 Literary Walk in the World’. However, I have done one that is even better – discover which crime writer’s walk got me super excited!

A book that crosses cultural and generational lines

Anne of Green Gables was not written as a novel for children, and in Montgomery’s lifetime some of her greatest fans were adult men. For years it was dismissed by critics as just a simple tale for girls, but now academics are studying it more closely, analysing Maud’s brilliance as a writer, and giving the book its rightful place amongst world classics. It crosses cultural and generational lines, the Japanese turn to it for lessons in cheerfulness and optimism, Polish soldiers in World War II were issued copies of Anne of the Island to take to the front for inspiration, Montgomery received fan mail from Tibet, Namibia and Australia.

In my view, any childhood that did not include this book was a deprived one, and I reread it, and the other Anne novels, often. Gilbert Blythe was the first great romantic passion of my life! I have been intrigued by the recent critical works which have deepened my appreciation of a book I have always adored.

Discuss it with me

I fell in love with Anne when I was about 7 years old. Until I discovered Jane Austen, the Anne books were the books I adored more than any other – I read and re-read, dreamed I would marry Gilbert Blythe, sobbed over Matthew’s death (and still do!), and longed to have red hair.

Was your childhood enriched by reading Anne of Green Gables? Did you go on to read the other novels in the series? I have an aunt who far prefers Montgomery’s Emily books, as she feels that Emily is a more spiritual and interesting heroine than Anne. Do you agree? Have you seen some of the movie and TV versions and if so, have they lived up to the novel? Let’s discuss it here.

Purchase the complete Virtual Talk (just $6)

At just $6 this Virtual Talk is a real video treat! In it, I reveal intriguing stories about the author to help you understand what prompted this book to be written. I identify the main characters and their roles, analyse the themes behind the story, and describe the influence that the era, lifestyle and circumstances have on the book’s setting. It is illustrated with photographs, paintings, scenes from different film versions and book covers – you’ll have plenty to look at while you listen. Buy it now and receive a link to view your video immediately.

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What you thought
Discuss it with me

Anne of Green Gables crosses cultural and generational lines. It’s a delightful and timeless classic that I turn to for comfort and therapy. What about you? Let’s discuss it here.

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I only recommend books I have read or know. Some of these links are my affiliate links. If you buy a book by clicking on one of these links I receive a small commission. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but does help cover the cost of producing my free newsletter.
Featured image credit- Megan Follows as Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables, 1985 TV Mini-Series, Anne of Green Gables Productions, https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088727/

Comments (2)

  1. Gaby Meares

    I have just spent a delightful hour exploring the works of Maud Montgomery in your company and it was like a salve in these challenging times. I am an ‘Anne’ girl, escaping to her beloved world of Prince Edward Island from an early age. Visiting it is now at the top of my list when we can finally travel again. I love Anne’s spirit, and ultimately her kindness as she learnt to accept Matthew and Marilla’s love. I too cannot stop myself from crying when Matthew dies. It’s like losing my own father all over again. Thank you for your fabulous ‘virtual’ talk. I’m looking forward to exploring more of my favourite authors with you.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      What a lovely comment to receive. Thanks so much, Gaby. I am glad that you too are such an Anne fan and that you got so much from my talk. I was just a basket case of emotions when I first got to PEI – everything made me cry with joy, sorrow and just the sheer emotions of the book. With me on that tour was a lovely lady named Margaret. She and her 100 year old mother were huge Anne fans, and every day Margaret sent photos and descriptions back to her Mum in Australia. The mother felt like she was on the tour too, and it was such an emotional highlight for both of them. Anne changes and enriches lives.
      I do hope you enjoy my other virtual talks – more lovely ones to come!

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