Lucy Maud Montgomery | 1874-1942

Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables books have provided Prince Edward Island, the setting for many of them, with a considerable tourist industry. Montgomery's own early life on Prince Edward Island resembled that of her spirited heroine. Montgomery lived with her strict, religious grandparents after her father remarried (her mother had died when Montgomery was two). To escape the emotional strictures that oppressed her in her new home, Montgomery retreated into a world of literary fantasy, dwelling on fairies and princesses instead of on her own loneliness. She worked as a teacher on Prince Edward Island, all the while publishing short fiction and poetry. It was not until 1908, however, that she published Anne of Green Gables, the first of the Avonlea books. Montgomery initially resisted pressure from her publisher to produce a sequel to the immensely popular book but ultimately relented. What followed between 1909 and 1939 was a series of five more books about the orphan named Anne who was sent with only her imagination to live with an elderly couple: Anne of Avonlea; Anne of the Island; Anne of Windy Poplars; Anne's House of Dreams; and Anne of Ingleside. In addition to great popular acclaim, Montgomery also received a number of international honors for her writing, being made a Fellow of the British Royal Society of Arts in 1923, and a Companion of the Order of the British Empire and a member of the Literary and Artistic Institute of France, in 1935. The Avonlea books have a long history in film and television. In 1919, Frances Marion, the greatest female screenwriter of early Hollywood, scripted a silent Anne of Green Gables, and a film version of one of the books has been made nearly every decade since. In the 1990s, Canadian television produced a series, called Avonlea, that aired for five years.