Born: November 30, 1874 in Clifton (now New London), Prince Edward Island, Canada
Died: April 24, 1942 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Montgomery is known to her readers as L.M., to her friends as Maud, and to young girls around the world as the author of the story of Anne of Green Gables. Mark Twain described Montgomery's Anne as "the dearest and most lovable child in fiction since the immortal Alice."
She was born in the small, Canadian, island province of Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) to Hugh John Montgomery, a merchant, and Clara Macneill Montgomery. Both parents were of Scottish dissent, and had large interrelated families on the Atlantic island, which proved useful fodder for her narratives. Her mother died of tuberculosis when Montgomery was two, and her father left her with her maternal grandparents while he headed west. She was brought up the Macneill's in a strict Presbyterian household, at Cavendish, P.E.I.
Her father remarried and settled in Saskatchewan. Montgomery made a brief attempt to rejoin her father's new family without success when she was 16. About this time she had some verse published in a local journal and began to think there might be a career in writing. Hedging her bets, she studied to be a teacher at the Prince of Wales College in Charlottetown. She took her first teaching job at Bidford, P.E.I., then went on to complete further studies at Dalhousie College, now Dalhousie University.
Her grandfather Macneill died in 1911 and Montgomery returned home to look after grandmother. It was her return to her home town that began her vocation as a writer. Besides tending to her grandmother she spent her extra free time writing and reading. One of her first stories was based on a newspaper article in which an elderly couple applied to an orphanage for a boy but received a girl. Over the next sixteen months she worked it into a novel, typing on a machine that would not print the letter "w". After five rejections and two years, Anne of Green Gables was finally accepted and published in 1907.
Anne of Green Gables, although popular with children, is also enjoyed by adults for its child- like optimism. The success of the novel spawned six sequels and established Montgomery's career. The main character of the story, Anne Shirley, is an eleven-year-old orphan who arrives at Green Gables, a farm outside Avonlea, only to find that the family there, the Cuthberts, want to adopt a boy, not a feisty red-headed girl.
In July 1911, at age thirty-six she married Reverend Ewen MacDonald, forty, to who she had been engaged since 1906. She became the mother of Chester Cameron in 1912 and Ewen Stuart in 1915.
Her later life was shadowed by tragic events; she gave birth to a stillborn son, many of her friends and family fought and died in WWI, and she fought legal battles with a publisher over the publication of unauthorized copies of manuscripts she had previously discarded. As well, around this time her husband began to exhibit signs of physical and mental illness. These events began to wear on Montgomery and she was afflicted with increasing nervousness.
However, after the war, she was honored by becoming the first woman to be named to England's Royal Society of Arts in 1923. Two years later she and her husband moved to Norval Ontario when MacDonald was awarded a new parish. In 1935, the couple moved to Toronto following the unfortunate mental breakdown of her husband. Happily, she was reunited with her sons who were studying law and medicine.
In one of the last honors of her career she was made an Officer of the British Empire in 1935. She died 1942 and was buried back in Cavendish Cemetery, P.E.I.
Anne of Green Gables remains a popular success, translated into dozens of languages and especially enjoyed by girls in Japan. Montgomery's book was made into two films made in the States, and two Canadian T.V. movies, and a subsequent series. The musical drama Anne of Green Gables is a mainstay of the Charlottetown Summer Festival.