If enduring popularity is the goal of every writer, then Lucy Maude Montgomery should probably serve as a model for her profession as the author of Anne of Green Gables and its sequels. A Canadian of Scottish ancestry, she was born on Prince Edward Island in 1874. Her mother died while the girl was in infancy, and she was raised by her grandparents at the Macneill homestead in Cavendish. An avid reader from childhood, she was equally versed in prose and poetry, and began writing in her early teens. Montgomery had her first poem published when she was 15. In 1908, she published the novel Anne of Green Gables, inspired by a story of an elderly couple who try to adopt a boy from an orphanage but end up with a girl instead. Set on her beloved Prince Edward Island -- where all of her fiction took place -- it was an instant success beyond anything she'd intended. Montgomery had thought to appeal to young teenage girls in Ontario and the rest of Canada but, instead, the book was embraced by teenagers and their families around the world. The novel and its follow-up works -- Anne of Avonlea (1909), Anne of the Island (1915), Anne's House of Dreams (1917), and Anne of Ingleside -- became perennial international bestsellers and made Montgomery into one of the most renowned and beloved children's book authors of her generation.
In 1911, Montgomery married the Rev. Ewan MacDonald and moved to Toronto, where she spent the rest of her life. William Desmond Taylor's poor 1919 film marked an inauspicious beginning to the book's history on screen. A better movie followed in 1934 starring a young actress previously known as Dawn O'Day but who changed her name to Anne Shirley as a condition of doing the movie and became a star for a time. Montgomery was a member of Royal Society of Authors and was awarded an OBE by the British crown for her work, which even engendered the admiration of Mark Twain, who called Anne of Green Gables "the sweetest of child life yet written." Montgomery enjoyed decades of adoration and died in 1942 at the age of 67. In her will, she left the royalties for Anne of Green Gables and its sequels to Prince Edward Island, which were still being collected 50 years later. The books all remain in print in the new century, and Kevin Sullivan's made-for-television filmings of Anne of Green Gables (1985) and Anne of Avonlea (1987) succeeded in delighting a new generation of mostly teenage girls. Another series-inspired sequel, Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story, aired in 2000 with Megan Follows and Jonathan Crombie reprising their roles as Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe, with Anne a school teacher and writer and Gilbert a doctor in war-torn Europe.