For the past century, L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables has captivated young and old. Published 100 years ago last month, the novel relates the adventures of a redheaded orphan mistakenly sent to a stern spinster and her quiet, bachelor brother on Prince Edward Island, Canada.
Through the years, the book has been translated into 15 languages and reappeared on stage and screen. An estimated 50 million copies have sold internationally, but it was almost never published, left instead tucked away by its author inside a hatbox.
A writer’s life
L.M. ‘Maud’ Montgomery had long dreamed of being a writer and had written for as long as she could remember. In 1904, she was looking through her notebooks for a topic for a Sunday school paper serial. She discovered a note she had made for an original story idea: an elderly couple decide to adopt an orphan boy, and by some mistake receive a little girl.
As Montgomery worked with this plot, it turned into Anne of Green Gables. Although she submitted it to several publishers in 1904, all rejected it. Discouraged, she stored her manuscript in a hatbox and forgot about it.
Fortunately, when she rediscovered the hatbox, she saw the merit in her story and sent it off again. This time, it was accepted by Boston’s Page Company, and in June 1908, itspublication was an instant success. During the first five months alone, 19,000 copies were sold.
When Montgomery held her published book for the first time, her thoughts were not of the many copies that would sell over a century, but of the satisfaction of a goal met.
‘The dream dreamed years ago … has come true at last after years of toil and struggle,’ she wrote in her autobiography, The Alpine Path. ‘And the realization is sweet, almost as sweet as the dream.’
Learn more online
Unfamiliar with Anne of Green Gables? You can read or print out L.M. Montgomery’s book and learn more about the author herself from several sites online. If you just plan to sample a passage from your computer screen, than it might be easiest to simply go to