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article imageEvoking L. M. Montgomery and the ‘Anne of Green Gables’ sensation Special

By Igor I. Solar     Apr 24, 2013 in Entertainment
Charlottetown - Seventy-one years ago today, on April 24, 1942, Canadian novelist Lucy Maud Montgomery died in Toronto at the age of 67. The official cause of her death was attributed to congestive heart failure, more precisely “coronary thrombosis”.
Several years later, in 2008, her granddaughter, Kate Macdonald Butler, revealed that Maud was suffering from depression and may have committed suicide through a drug overdose. The assumption is mostly based on a note found beside Maud’s death bed which included the following sentences: "I have lost my mind by spells and I do not dare think what I may do in those spells. May God forgive me and I hope everyone else will forgive me even if they cannot understand. My position is too awful to endure and nobody realizes it. What an end to a life in which I tried always to do my best.”
Lucy Maud Montgomery  ca. 1897.
Lucy Maud Montgomery, ca. 1897.
The message was interpreted as the final writing of the famous novelist who at the time was suffering of a severe mental illness caused by years of sadness, isolation and periods of depression while trying to cope with the duties of motherhood and caring for her husband Ewen Macdonald, a Presbyterian Minister who was also afflicted of recurrent bouts of depression, hallucinations and deteriorating mental health. However, Mary Rubio, author of “The Gift of Wings”, a biography of M. L. Montgomery published in 2010, believes that the statements were meant to be a regular journal entry and not a suicide note.
Lucy Maud Montgomery was buried at the Cavendish Community Cemetery in Cavendish, P.E.I, following a wake at the Green Gables farmhouse, and funeral services in the local Presbyterian Church.
Burial site of Lucy Maud Montgomery and her husband Rev. Ewen MacDonald at the Cavendish Community C...
Burial site of Lucy Maud Montgomery and her husband Rev. Ewen MacDonald at the Cavendish Community Cemetery in Cavendish, P.E.I, Canada.
Montgomery was born on November 30, 1874 in Clifton (now New London), Prince Edward Island (PEI), Canada. Maud spent an idyllic childhood among the rolling hills of historic Cavendish, PEI; she obtained a teacher’s license from Prince of Wales College in Charlottetown; studied English literature at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and took a teaching position in Belmont, PEI.
Birthplace of Lucy Maud Montgomery in New London  Prince Edward Island.
Birthplace of Lucy Maud Montgomery in New London, Prince Edward Island.
Prince Edward Island scenery  Location in the northern coast of the island  near Cavendish and New L...
Prince Edward Island scenery, Location in the northern coast of the island, near Cavendish and New London.
Church in New London  near the birthplace of Lucy Maud Montgomery.
Church in New London, near the birthplace of Lucy Maud Montgomery.
While a student and a teacher she kept the firm purpose of becoming a writer. She started writing, aiming for publication around 1895. A short story she sent to a Philadelphia periodical earned Maud five dollars, which in her own account she “did not squander in riotous living, neither did I invest it in necessary boots and gloves. I went up town and bought five volumes of poetry.”
In 1898, Montgomery returned to Cavendish to care for her ailing grandmother. Memories of childhood inspired her to start writing her first novel “Anne of Green Gables”. Having her work in print wasn’t easy. Five publishers rejected the novel until Boston-based Page Co. published it in 1908. “Anne of Green Gables” became a success. The story of an orphan girl, Anne Shirley, a red-headed, freckled-faced, green-eyed, never-ending chatterer, who is adopted by a family in Prince Edward Island although they wanted a boy to help around the farm, stole the heart of millions of readers who made the book an immediate bestseller. Almost 20,000 copies were sold in the first five months. The novel has been translated to 20 languages and has sold about 50 million copies, so far.
From 1908 to 1921, Montgomery wrote and published eight sequels relating to stages of Anne Shirley’s life. The original story and the many sequels have made Prince Edward Island an international tourist destination, particularly (and rather surprisingly) in Japan where since 1952 “Anne of Green Gables” has been required reading in public schools. Akage No An (Red-haired Anne) became a national obsession for Japanese girls. Thousands of Japanese tourists come to PEI and Cavendish to see the house where Anne of Green Gables, the fictional heroine, grew-up and admired so many sunsets and sunrises.
Anne of Green Gables House at Cavendish  Prince Edward Island.
Anne of Green Gables House at Cavendish, Prince Edward Island.
Her birthplace and other locations where she lived are now preserved as they were in her life time. Montgomery's home of Leaskdale Manse in Ontario, the area surrounding Green Gables, and her Cavendish home in Prince Edward Island have been designated National Historic Sites of Canada.
Perhaps one of the most inspirational sentences in the book and the one that best summarizes the spirit of Anne of Green Gables is the question she asks Marilla Cuthbert at the end of Chapter XXI: “Marilla, isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”
"I cannot remember the time when I was not writing or when I did not mean to be an author. To write has always been my central purpose around which every effort and hope and ambition of my life has grounded itself.” (L. M. Montgomery, 1874-1942).
More about LM Montgomery, Prince edward island, Canadian novelist, Children's book, Canadian literature
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