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Anne of Green Gables, 100 years later

By Jenny Sawyer / September 16, 2008



Have you ever read the story of a little red-headed orphan who daydreamed and made mischief wherever she went? Who was embarrassed by the awful clothes she had to wear? Who loved the outdoors and named a grove of spruce trees, “The Haunted Wood”?
Can you guess this character’s name? If you’ve read the book, “Anne of Green Gables,” by Lucy Maud Montgomery, then you know that the little girl is called Anne Shirley.

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Meet Anne
If you haven’t read the book, you might wonder just who this famous Anne character is. For starters, Anne turns 100 this year. That’s right, “Anne of Green Gables” was first published in 1908.

L.M. Montgomery, as the author was known, then went on to write seven more full-length books about Anne and her family. Later, Anne even became the subject of several movies and TV series.

In the first “Anne” book, the spunky girl is an 11-year-old orphan who accidentally ends up with Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert – a brother and sister who live in the imaginary town of Avonlea on Prince Edward Island in Canada. Matthew and Marilla planned to adopt a boy – someone to help with the farm work.

Instead, they got Anne. And, like millions of readers, they fell in love with her – much to their surprise.

See, Anne talks too much. She daydreams when she should be washing the dishes. She hates her bright red hair so much that she even tries dyeing it. But she ends up with a color that’s even worse – green.

That, however, is one of the reasons everyone loves Anne: The trouble she causes keeps life lively, and no one can be as kind as she can – or as much fun.

The rest of the books about Anne follow her as she grows up, works as a teacher, goes to college, marries, and raises children of her own.

Meet Anne’s author
When she made up stories about Anne, Montgomery drew on her own life experiences.

Like Anne, she lost her mother when she was very young. So she spent many of her growing-up years with her grandparents on Prince Edward Island. With her vivid memories and just a touch of imagination, Anne was born.

Montgomery also loved nature. And she especially loved the spruce grove and the brook near the one-room schoolhouse she attended. Her passion for the outdoors – and some of the quirks of a one-room schoolhouse education – ended up in her stories, too.

But there were differences between Montgomery and her first storybook character. For example, Montgomery was “Lucy Maud-without-an-‘e’.” Anne, on the other hand, pleads for the ‘e’ at the end of her name.

Anne also has a much happier childhood with Matthew and Marilla than Montgomery had with her strict grandparents. Often, Montgomery felt lonely, so she used her imagination to escape. Anne seems to do her best daydreaming when she’s happy.

Although if you know anything about Anne, you also know that there’s rarely a moment when she’s not imagining something!

One thing neither Anne nor her author could have imagined, though, was just how many people all over the world would still adore Anne today.

For Anne’s anniversary, a Canadian author named Budge Wilson wrote a prequel called “Before Green Gables,” a book about Anne’s orphan years. And a new television movie, “Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning,” will be broadcast in Canada later this year.

How will you celebrate 100 years of Anne?