Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables
Anne of Green Gables first edition cover.
Author Lucy Maud Montgomery
Illustrator M. A. and W. A. J. Claus
Country written and set in Canada. Published in United States[1][2]
Language English
Series Anne of Green Gables
Genre Novel
Published June 1908 (L.C. Page & Co.)[3]
Followed by Anne of Avonlea
Text Anne of Green Gables at Wikisource

Anne of Green Gables is a bestselling 1908 novel by Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery. Written as fiction for readers of all ages, the literary classic has been considered a children's novel since the mid-twentieth century. It recounts the adventures of Anne Shirley, a young orphan girl, age 11[4] who is mistakenly sent to Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, a middle-aged brother and sister who had intended to adopt a boy to help them on their farm on Prince Edward Island. The novel recounts how Anne makes her way with the Cuthberts, in school and within the town.

Since publication, Anne of Green Gables has sold more than 50 million copies and has been translated into 20 languages.[5] Numerous sequels were written by Montgomery, and since her death another sequel has been published, as well as an authorized prequel. The original book is taught to students around the world.

It has been adapted as films, made-for-television movies, and animated and live-action television series. Anne Shirley was played by Megan Follows in the 1985 Canadian produced movie.[6] Plays and musicals have also been created, with productions annually in Canada since 1964 of the first musical production, which has toured in Canada, the United States, Europe and Japan. Others have been produced in Canada and the United States.


In writing the novel, Montgomery was inspired by notes she had made as a young girl, about a couple who were mistakenly sent an orphan girl instead of the boy they had requested yet decided to keep her. She drew upon her own childhood experiences in rural Prince Edward Island. Montgomery used a photograph of Evelyn Nesbit as the model for the face of Anne Shirley, which she had clipped from New York’s Metropolitan Magazine and put on the wall of her bedroom.[7]

Montgomery was also inspired by the "formula Ann" orphan stories which were popular at the time and distinguished her character by spelling her name as "Anne." She based other characters such as Gilbert Blythe in part on people she knew. She said that she wrote the novel in the twilight of the day, while sitting at her window and overlooking the fields of Cavendish.[8]

Plot summary

Anne, a young orphan from the fictional community of Bolingbroke, Nova Scotia (based upon the real community of New London), is sent to Prince Edward Island after a childhood spent in strangers' homes and orphanages. Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, siblings in their fifties and sixties, had decided to adopt a boy from the orphanage to help Matthew run their farm. They live at Green Gables, their Avonlea farmhouse on Prince Edward Island. Through a misunderstanding, the orphanage sends Anne Shirley.

Anne is described as bright and quick, eager to please, talkative, and extremely imaginative. She has a pale face with freckles and usually braids her red hair. Marilla at first says the girl must return to the orphanage, but after a few days she decides to let her stay. Marilla feels that she could be a good influence on the girl and had also learned that another disagreeable woman in town might take Anne in instead.

As a child of imagination, Anne takes much joy in life and adapts quickly, thriving in the close-knit farming village. Her talkativeness initially drives the prim, duty-driven Marilla to distraction, although Matthew falls for her charm immediately. Anne says that they are "kindred spirits."

The book recounts Anne's adventures in making a home: the country school where she quickly excels in her studies; her friendship with Diana Barry (her best or "bosom friend" as Anne fondly calls her); her budding literary ambitions; and her rivalry with classmate Gilbert Blythe, who teases her about her red hair. For that he earns her instant hatred, although he apologizes many times. As time passes, Anne realizes she no longer hates Gilbert but cannot bring herself to speak to him.

The book also follows Anne's adventures in quiet, old-fashioned Avonlea. Episodes include her play time with friends (Diana, Jane Andrews and Ruby Gillis), her run-ins with the unpleasant Pye sisters (Gertie and Josie), and domestic mishaps such as dyeing her hair green (while intending to dye it black) or accidentally getting Diana drunk (by giving her what she thinks is raspberry cordial but is currant wine).

At fifteen, Anne goes to Queen's Academy to earn a teaching license, along with Gilbert, Ruby, Josie, Jane and several other students. She obtains her license in one year instead of the usual two and wins the Avery Scholarship for the top student in English. Her attainment of this scholarship would allow her to pursue a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree at the fictional Redmond College (based on the real Dalhousie University) on the mainland in Nova Scotia.

Near the end of the book, Matthew dies of a heart attack after learning that all of his and Marilla's money has been lost in a bank failure. Out of devotion to Marilla and Green Gables, Anne gives up the Avery Scholarship to stay at home and help Marilla, whose eyesight is diminishing. She plans to teach at the Carmody school, the nearest school available, and return to Green Gables on weekends. In an act of friendship, Gilbert Blythe gives up his teaching position at the Avonlea School to work at White Sands School instead, knowing that Anne wants to stay close to Marilla after Matthew's death. After this kind act, Anne and Gilbert's friendship is cemented, and Anne looks forward to the next "bend in the road."


Anne Shirley—An imaginative, talkative, red-headed orphan who comes to live with Matthew Cuthbert and Marilla Cuthbert, who are siblings.

Marilla Cuthbert—Matthew's sister, she is an austere woman who tries to subdue Anne's imaginative, unusual ways. Though she is conservative in her rules, she does love Anne and has the glimmerings of a sense of humour and a hidden soft side.

Matthew Cuthbert—Marilla's brother, a shy, awkward man who takes a liking to Anne from the start. The two become fast friends. He is a good listener. Because Marilla has primary responsibility for rearing the girl, he has no qualms about "spoiling" her and indulging her in pretty clothes and other frivolities.

Diana Barry—Anne's bosom friend and kindred spirit. Anne and Diana become best friends from the moment they meet. She is the only girl of Anne's age who lives close to Green Gables. Anne admires Diana for being pretty and for her amiable disposition. Diana lacks Anne's powerful imagination but is a loyal friend.

Gilbert Blythe—A handsome classmate who tried to get Anne's attention by pulling her hair and calling her "Carrots" (unaware of her sensitivity about her red hair). Anne reacted by refusing to have anything to do with him for the next few years. Although Gilbert repeatedly apologized, Anne rebuffed him for years. However, Gilbert never abandoned his quest for her friendship (and eventually, love). Anne had unknowingly forgiven him when he had saved her from drowning, but had only just let her pride down when he gave up his job as teacher at the Avonlea school for her, to enable her to live at Green Gables with Marilla.

Mrs. Rachel Lynde—A neighbour of Matthew and Marilla, and the nosiest person in town. She soon warms to the freckle-faced orphan. She is industrious and helpful, and does work for the church. She is married and has raised ten children, but her husband, Thomas Lynde, is mentioned briefly and never speaks.

Miss Muriel Stacy—Anne's energetic new teacher. Her warm and sympathetic nature appeals to her students, but Avonlea's conservative parents disapprove of her liberal teaching methods. She forms a special relationship with Anne, who views her as a mentor. Miss Stacy encourages Anne to develop her character and intellect, and helps prepare her for the entrance exam at Queen's Academy, where she finishes in a tie for first with Gilbert Blythe.

Josie Pye—A classmate generally disliked by the other girls (as are her siblings). Josie is vain, dishonest and jealous of Anne's popularity.

Jane Andrews—One of Anne's friends from school, she is plain and sensible. She does well enough academically to join Anne's class at Queen's.

Ruby Gillis—Another of Anne's friends. Having several "grown up" sisters, Ruby loves to share her knowledge of beaus with her friends. Ruby is portrayed as traditionally beautiful with long golden hair, and she suffers from consumption/tuberculosis.

Reverend and Mrs. Allan—The minister and his wife also befriend Anne, with Mrs. Allan becoming particularly close. She is described as pretty.

Minnie May Barry—Diana's baby sister, whose life is saved by Anne when she comes down with croup.

Mr. & Mrs. Barry—Diana's parents. Mr. Barry farms, and, near the end of the book, offers to rent some tracts to help out Anne and Marilla, after Matthew's passing. Mrs. Barry has a severe personality, expecting her children to follow strict rules. After Anne accidentally gets Diana drunk, Mrs. Barry rejects the girl, forbidding Diana to have anything to do with Anne... until after she saves Minnie May, of course.

Miss Josephine Barry—Diana's aunt. Initially portrayed in a negative light, she is quickly charmed by Anne's imagination, and eventually invites her and Diana to tea. She refers to Anne as 'the Anne-girl'and even sends Anne beaded slippers as a Christmas present.

Mr. Phillips—Anne's first teacher at Avonlea, whom she despises (he spelled Anne's name without an 'E', among other things). She refuses to attend school for a long time, after Mr. Phillips punished only her among 12 pupils who arrived late. He is described as lacking discipline, and "courts" one of his pupils openly... (less frowned upon then as opposed to more contemporary times).

Related works

Based on the popularity of her first book, Montgomery wrote a series of sequels to continue the story of her heroine Anne Shirley. They are listed chronologically below by Anne's age in each of the novels.

Lucy Maud Montgomery's books on Anne Shirley:
# Book Date published Anne Shirley's age
1 Anne of Green Gables 1908 11—16
2 Anne of Avonlea 1909 16—18
3 Anne of the Island 1915 18—22
4 Anne of Windy Poplars (US & Canada)
Anne of Windy Willows (Other)
1936 22—25
5 Anne's House of Dreams 1917 25—27
6 Anne of Ingleside 1939 34—40
The following books focus on Anne's children, or on other family friends. Anne appears in these volumes, but plays a lesser part.
# Book Date published Anne Shirley's age
7 Rainbow Valley 1919 41—43
8 Rilla of Ingleside 1921 49—53
9 The Blythes Are Quoted 2009 40—75
Anne Shirley features in one story (and is referenced in other stories) in each of the following collections:
# Book Date published Anne Shirley's age
Chronicles of Avonlea 1912 approx. 20
Further Chronicles of Avonlea 1920 approx. 20

The prequel, Before Green Gables (2008), was written by Budge Wilson with authorization of heirs of L. M. Montgomery.

Tourism and merchandising

The Green Gables farmhouse located in Cavendish
Sign marking trail through Balsam Hollow

The province and tourist facilities have highlighted the local connections to the internationally popular novels. Anne of Green Gables has been translated into 36 languages.[9][10] "Tourism by Anne fans is an important part of the Island economy".[11] Merchants offer items based on the novels.

The Green Gables farmhouse is located in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island. Many tourist attractions on Prince Edward Island have been developed based on the fictional Anne, and provincial licence plates once bore her image.[12] Balsam Hollow, the forest that inspired the Haunted Woods and Campbell Pond, the body of water which inspired The Lake of Shining Waters, both described in the book, are located in the vicinity.[13] In addition, the Confederation Centre of the Arts has featured the wildly successful Anne of Green Gables musical on its mainstage every summer for the past 48 years.[14]

The novel has been very popular in Japan, which is known as Red-haired Anne.[15][16] where it has been included in the national school curriculum since 1952. 'Anne' is revered as "an icon" in Japan, especially since 1979 when this story had been broadcast as anime, Anne of Green Gables.[17] Japanese couples travel to Prince Edward Island to have civil wedding ceremonies on the grounds of the Green Gables farm. Some Japanese girls arrive as tourists with red-dyed hair styled in pigtails, to look like Anne.[18] In 2014, Asadora 'Hanako to Anne'(Hanako Muraoka is the first translator in Japan) was broadcast and Anne became popular among old and young(alike).

The Avonlea theme park near Cavendish and the Cavendish Figurines shop have trappings so that tourists may dress like the book's characters for photos.[19] Souvenir shops throughout Prince Edward Island offer numerous foods and products based on details of the 'Anne Shirley' novels. Straw hats for girls with sewn-in red braids are common, as are bottles of raspberry cordial soda.[20] In the first book, Lucy Maud Montgomery established the cordial soda as the favorite beverage of Anne, who declared: "I just love bright red drinks!"

Panorama of Green Gable farmhouse and grounds

Legacy and honors

  • Bala's Museum, located in Bala, Ontario, Canada, is dedicated to Lucy M. Montgomery information and heritage. The house museum is located in the former home of Fanny Pike, where Montgomery and her family stayed for a vacation in 1922. She based her novel The Blue Castle on the region, changing the town's name to Deerwood. This was the only book she wrote that was set in other than Atlantic Canada.
  • On May 15, 1975 Canada Post issued 'Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables' designed by Peter Swan and typographed by Bernard N.J. Reilander. The 8¢ stamps are perforated 13 and were printed by Ashton-Potter Limited.[21]
  • In the UK, Anne of Green Gables was listed at number 41 on the BBC's The Big Read, a 2003 survey with the goal of finding the "nation's best-loved novel."[22]
  • In 2008 Canada Post issued two postage stamps and a souvenir sheet honouring Anne and the "Green Gables" house.[23]

Representation in other media


Television movies

Television series

Anne as she appeared in the 1979 Japanese anime adaptation of Anne of Green Gables.
Anne of Green Gables: The Animated Series


  • The Guild in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, hosts Anne and Gilbert, The Musical. Written by Nancy White, Bob Johnston and Jeff Hochhauser, the production is based on Montgomery's sequels featuring Anne Shirley.
  • The Nine Lives of L.M. Montgomery, a musical adapted from Montgomery's novel and her life, opened at Kings Playhouse in Emmy-nominated composer Leo Marchildon, the musical depicts events from Montgomery’s life and features as characters heroines from all of her novels. Anne figures prominently, and is shown from age 12 into her 40s. Gilbert Blythe also appears. The show’s second production was at the Carrefour Theatre in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island and opened July 11, 2009. Both years, the musical was nominated for The Prince Edward Island Museum and Heritage Foundation's Wendell Boyle Award. In July 2010, a concert version of the show toured Prince Edward Island, with four performances at Green Gables.[25]
  • Theatreworks USA, a New York-based children's theatre company, produced an Anne of Green Gables musical in 2006 at the Lucille Lortel Theatre. A revived production, with musical contributions from Gretchen Cryer, is planned to tour grade-schools.


As one of the most familiar characters in Canadian literature, Anne of Green Gables has been parodied by several Canadian comedy troupes, including CODCO (Anne of Green Gut) and The Frantics (Fran of the Fundy).


  1. ^ Devereux, Cecily Margaret (2004). A Note on the Text. In Montgomery (2004), p.42.  
  2. ^ Montgomery, Lucy Maud (2004) [1908]. Devereux, Cecily Margaret, ed. Anne of Green Gables. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press.  
  3. ^ 'Anne of Green Gables' 1st edition sells at auction for US$37,000, a new record, "The Guardian", December 12, 2009
  4. ^ in literature, 1908
  5. ^ on Anne of Green Gables: "'Anne of Green Gables' has sold more than 50 million copies and been translated into 20 languages, according to Penguin." (March 19, 2008)
  6. ^ The Film itself
  7. ^, Irene Gammel, Looking for Anne of Green Gables: The Story of L.M. Montgomery and her Literary Classic (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2009).
  8. ^ Irene Gammel, "The Mystery of Anne Revealed," Looking for Anne of Green Gables.
  9. ^ Anne of Green Gables - Celebrate 100 Years
    "Anne of Green Gables has sold millions of copies in more than 36 languages"
  10. ^ "'Anne of Green Gables' still rules Prince Edward Island", USA Today, August 5, 2008
  11. ^ CBC News (June 19, 2008)., "100 years of Anne of Green Gables".
  12. ^ "License plate goes green", "The Guardian", April 5th 2007
  13. ^ Green Gables Government of Prince Edward Island. Retrieved on July 24, 2006
  14. ^ "Anne of Green Gables - The Musical" "Confederation Centre of the Arts", August 14th 2012
  15. ^ Yuka Kajihara (April 4, 2004). "Anne in Japan FAQ 1.0". Archived from the original on July 18, 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-06. 
  16. ^ "Buttercups: L.M. Montgomery & Anne of Green Gables fan club in Japan", Yukazine, April 4, 2004
  17. ^ Morris, C. (May 11, 2008). "P.E.I. honours Anne's 100th", Canadian Press.
  18. ^ Bruni, Frank (November 18, 2007). "Beckoned by Bivalves: Prince Edward Island". The New York Times
  19. ^ Oct 10 '10. "Cloning Anne of Green Gables.". Tacky Tourist Photos. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-06. 
  20. ^ "The Heroine's Bookshelf: Anne of Green Gables". October 12, 2010. Archived from the original on July 17, 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-06. 
  21. ^ Canada Post stamp
  22. ^ "BBC - The Big Read". BBC. April 2003, Retrieved October 27, 2012
  23. ^ "Canada Post - Anne of Green Gables". Canada Post. Retrieved 2012-03-16. 
  24. ^ "Anne of Green Gables returns to TV". CBC News. June 11, 2012. Retrieved June 21, 2012. 
  25. ^ "The Nine Lives of L.M. Montgomery". February 15, 2012. Retrieved 2013-11-03. 
  26. ^ "". Retrieved 2011-06-06. 

Further reading

External links