Anne of Green Gables was written by Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874-1942) and first published in 1908. It tells the story of an orphan girl sent by mistake to a middle-aged brother and sister, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, and introduces some of the literary canon's most memorable characters, including Rachel Lynde and Gilbert Blythe. The Cuthberts planned to adopt a boy to help with farm work, but they decide to keep Anne when they see that they may be able to help her by offering her a real home. While Matthew immediately warms to the impulsive and imaginative Anne, Marilla takes longer to come to love her. Mark Twain called the character of Anne “the dearest, most moving and delightful child since the immortal Alice”; the enduring popularity of the novel owes much to the sensitivity with which Anne is portrayed: her imagination, loyalty, and propensity to get into scrapes are both endearing and amusing.
The novel narrates Anne’s escapades as she grows up, attending school and then Queens College where she studies to become a teacher. It also depicts her growth in maturity and brings the story full-circle when she is able to help Marilla Cuthbert in her time of need as Marilla once helped her.
Anne of Green Gables has been translated into thirty-six languages and has sold more than fifty million copies. Montgomery wrote nine sequels and the Montgomery heirs authorized a prequel, based on the information about Anne’s life before Green Gables, published in 2008. Anne of Green Gables was made into movies in 1919 and 1934, and it has led to the well-known TV series by Kevin Sullivan as well as the 1970s BBC adaptations, Japanese anime versions, and even stage productions. More recently, Netflix produced the series Anne with an E and PBS released three Anne movies for television with Kate Macdonald Butler, Montgomery’s granddaughter, serving as one of the executive directors.
The house that Montgomery had in mind when she wrote Green Gables belonged to her aunt and uncle and is today the Green Gables House Museum in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island. The novel and especially the film adaptations have contributed to the bustling tourism industry of the island and were also crucial to the establishment of the L. M. Montgomery Institute at the University of Prince Edward Island.