Personal Confession: I didn’t read Anne of Green Gables as a child. Or teen. In fact, I was in my 30s before I ever gave Anne Shirley more than a passing glance. Many, if not most, of my female friends had the entire series collection, but somehow it always escaped my interest.
It was until the Netflix adaptation of Anne with an E, when many, if not most, of my female friends began to exclaim their excitement for the then upcoming series of the heroine of their childhood that I took notice. I watched the show and loved the spunky, intelligent, awkward Anne. But was a series that debuted in the early 1900s really this…progressive?
Yes and no. As many book lovers do, after seeing a story based on a book series that I had previously skipped over, I started reading. There are progressive sentiments, but they are not quite to the level of the series. In any case, I had questions about who L. M. Montgomery was that this person wrote a series that captivated the hearts of little girls across Western Civilization (and even some of my friends from across the world).
Recently, while volunteering in my church library (yes, I have fully embraced all facets of my nerdiness), I came across a DVD (re-release) of the 1985 film version of Anne of Green Gables. It got my easily distracted ADHD mind back on track wondering about the author of such a beloved tale. So I followed Google down the rabbit hole.
Here are 10 Things about L. M. Montgomery.
- Lucy Maud Montgomery was born November 30, 1874 on Prince Edward Island. Before she turned two, her mother died of tuberculosis. Her father, grief stricken and not trusting himself to properly care for his daughter, left her in the custody of his in-laws. He remained near their home in Cavendish, PEI until Lucy was about seven when he took a job in another territory.
- She hated the name Lucy, but rather liked Maud. However, she often pointed out to people that Maud was “not with an e, if you please”. Lucy was the name of one of her grandmothers, while Maud was the middle name of one of Queen Victoria’s own daughters (Princess Alice Maud Mary).
- In 1901, she got a job working for a newspaper in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She was the only female employed by the paper and earned meager wages, but she adored her job. She wrote gossip articles under a pen name, but also proofread for other writers, and edited the society pages.
- Unfortunately, Lucy Maud would have to give up her beloved job at the paper when her grandfather passed and her ailing grandmother needed help running things around their home. Her grandmother wasn’t supportive of Lucy’s writing, claiming it was unpractical, so she often did it at night by sneaking candles into her room.
- She kept up her writing career by secretly sending off submissions to magazines and publishers. It was relatively simple to do since her grandmother’s farm also served as the local post office and she was the de facto post mistress during her grandmother’s illness. She sent off her submissions and received her replies with nobody the wiser. Through her writing, in 1904 she made about $700. The average woman at the time only made $300 in a year.
- She was courted by many suitors and had multiple failed engagements. She liked courting more than the thought of actual marriage and admitted that when she finally did get married, she regretted it before the bridal feast got underway. She claimed she felt trapped and craved freedom. Regardless, she stayed with her husband to the end of his life and had several children with him.
- She never wanted to write any of the Anne sequels. It was in her original contract with the publisher that should the story gain popularity, she would be obligated to follow it with more Anne books. She wrote to friends saying the thought of being tied to one story and one character made her sick. She loathed the idea of following Anne through college. By the end of the series she was “done with Anne forever–I swear it as a dead and darkly vow.” After such a claim, however, she did eventually return to the series for one final novel.
- She was infected with the Spanish Flu in 1918 and almost died. Her best friend did lose her life and afterward L. M. suffered from Depression and became addicted to barbiturates. It was the “family secret” for almost 100 years, but one of her granddaughters eventually revealed that her death was a suicide caused by overdose because she lost the battle against her Depression. Her husband also suffered from severe Depression and L. M. had to spend a lot of effort to mask his even more so than hers in order to keep his place in the community. It eventually proved to be too much.
- From the start of her career, she tried writing under several pseudonyms including Maude Cavendish and Joyce Cavendish, but none were so successful as her gender neutral initials. L. M. Montgomery.
- King George V honored her as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. Forevermore, her official title is Lucy Maud Montgomery, OBE. I think even Anne Shirley would be impressed.
There are actually a lot more interesting facts that I discovered. Truthfully, she was a complicated and interesting lady. And it seems much about Anne was based on Maud. No wonder she has captivated so many hearts and minds. She wrote from a place of emotional vulnerability and readers related to it.
Somewhat unrelated side note: If I ever publish anything of note and somehow become deserving of something like a Wikipedia page, y’all be nice. There is absolutely no need for people a century from now to know every embarrassing detail of my life. Poor L. M. has no more skeletons left in her closet.