Today we celebrate the birthday of one of my favorite authors, Lucy Maud Montgomery. On November 30, 1874, Montgomery was born in Clifton, Prince Edward Island to Hugh John Montgomery and Clara Woolner Macneill. After her mother’s death, when Lucy was only 21 months old, Montgomery’s father left her in the care of her maternal grandparents in Cavendish. He moved away and eventually remarried.
It is said living as an only child with elderly caregivers helped Montgomery to develop her imagination and fondness for nature, books, and writing. Though her first publication came in the fall of 1891, she completed school and earned her teaching license in 1893 – 1894. After a brief teaching career, the sudden death of the grandfather who had raised her caused Montgomery to return home to care for her grandmother. She would remain there for most of the next thirteen years where she continued to write and earn a comfortable income.
She wrote her most famous novel, Anne of Green Gables, in 1905, but tucked it away after numerous rejections. In 1907, she sent it out again and it was picked up by the Page Company of Boston, Massachusetts and published in 1908. Montgomery married after her grandmother’s death and bore three sons, one of whom was stillborn. As a minister’s wife living in Leaskdale, Ontario, she was busy assisting her husband, but she still made time to write. Montgomery never lived on Prince Edward Island again, but she was buried in the Cavendish cemetery not far from her old home.
For my eleventh birthday, I received the first three books in the Anne of Green Gables series as a present from my oldest sister. I would not become enamored with Anne’s story, however, until the release of the Anne of Green Gables Canadian mini-series in 1985 starring Megan Follows, Richard Farnsworth, and Colleen Dewhurst. Follows would reprise her role as Anne Shirley in two sequels: Anne of Avonlea (now titled Anne of Green Gable The Sequel) and Anne of Green Gables The Continuing Story.
I have since gone on to read all eight of Montomgery’s Anne novels, The Story Girl and The Golden Road–which inspired the Canadian-based Road to Avonlea television series, and Chronicles of Avonlea and Further Chronicles of Avonlea.
Lucy Maud Montgomery’s work continues to inspire my own writing. It is her feisty, imaginative, red-headed orphan who reminds me a bit of myself–not unlike the other feisty character/historical figure I adore–Laura Ingalls Wilder. Here’s to a talented author whose most famous character continues to gain new fans year after year. May she live in our hearts forever.