Saturday, June 6, 2009
As I mentioned yesterday, the first three literary heroes being featured in June will be authors who wrote for children. While Laura Ingalls Wilder remains my strong favorite, this next author's books I have read almost as many times as my Little House books; and like Laura, I find many things I can relate to in their strong, feisty main character.
When I first discovered Anne Shirley, it was through a Sullivan Entertainment production titled, Anne of Green Gables. In this movie, a red-headed orphan girl named Anne is adopted after many trials and mishaps by Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, who live in Avonlea on Prince Edward Island, Canada.
She attends school and church, makes friends with Diana Barry, and unknowingly makes an adversary of Josie Pye who is interested in the dashing Gilbert Blythe. Gil, however, has taken a keen interest in the feisty Anne Shirley; though Anne sees him as more of a rival than an ideal suitor.
Anne grows from girl to young woman at Green Gables, and is soon off to Queens College. Her rivalry with Gilbert Blythe continues, as they vie for various scholarships.
Having made plans to go on to Redmond College, Anne's plans change when tragedy strikes. Knowing that Marilla can't possibly run a farm the size of Green Gables by herself, Anne makes the ultimate sacrifice to stay at home with her after Matthew's death. Other things at home change too, as Anne and Gilbert finally become friends instead of rivals.
The popularity of Sullivan's first Anne production led to three more installments in Anne's story: Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel, also known as Anne of Avonlea, Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story, and most recently, Anne of Green Gables ~ A New Beginning. Sullivan also created an animated Anne series.
But how does all that make Lucy Maud Montgomery one of my literary heroes? In my childhood home, probably on my eleventh birthday, I received a three-book set that contained the first three books in the Anne series: Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, and Anne of the Island. I tried reading Anne of Green Gables, but Montgomery's flowing descriptions of Prince Edward Island were lost on me, and I probably didn't make it past the third chapter before I tucked these books away on the shelf.
For whatever reason, I kept this set through various moves. Then, in my early twenties, as a young single mother, I saw Sullivan Entertainment's Anne of Green Gables and loved it so much I dug my Anne books out of the back of the bookshelf and began reading. I devoured all three books in record time and began visting my local Barnes and Noble for more books in the Anne series.
According to The L.M. Montgomery Institute, Lucy Maud Montgomery was sent to live with her mother's parents after her mother died of tuberculosis. Lucy was only 21 months old. Nature, books, writing and her imagination became constant companions.
As a young girl, Lucy kept a journal and wrote poetry. One of her poems was published before she even graduated from Prince of Wales College.
Montgomery taught at three different schools and also sought to better herself by continuing her studies. She also continued to write. Even though she received many rejections, she was able to make a comfortable living off her writing.
When Montgomery first tried to find a publisher for her first novel, Anne of Green Gables, it was rejected numerous times. She sought a publisher for her manuscript two years later, and Anne of Green Gables was released by Page Company of Boston, Massachusetts in 1908.
In July of 1911, Lucy Maud Montgomery married Reverend Ewan MacDonald and eventually gave birth to three sons, one of which was stillborn.
Despite many problems and highly affected by events of the day, Montgomery continued to write. All except one of her twenty books are set on Prince Edward Island, a place she never saw again after her marriage in 1911.
Along with her Anne series, Montgomery wrote two books about Sara Stanley and her King cousins. The Story Girl and The Golden Road were the basis for another Sullivan Entertainment series, Road to Avonlea. For a more extensive list of Montgomery's works, please visit The L.M. Montgomery Institiute.
Legions of fans flock to Prince Edward Island, Canada each year to visit the place made famous by Montgomery's books. Even though Anne Shirley, Sara Stanley, the King cousins and many other residents of Avonlea are fictitious, readers still want to see a piece of the Canadian shoreline where Lucy Maud Montgomery's characters roamed.