The Life and Works of L.M. Montgomery

Lucy Maud Montgomery was the author of many young adult books, including her most famous work, Anne of Green Gables. She also wrote other books, short stories and poems, all of them inspired by her upbringing on Prince Edward Island, Canada in the late 1800s. Readers are still fascinated by Montgomery and continue to take an interest in both her life and her works. Interest in her works also inspires tourism to Canada every year.

The Life of L.M. Montgomery

Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874-1942) was part of a well-respected political family of Scottish ancestry on Prince Edward Island. When she was about two years old her mother caught tuberculosis and passed away. Shortly thereafter her father sent her to Cavendish, PEI to live with her maternal grandparents. Thus, Montgomery was raised by two elderly people without many children her age around. However, she always had books to read and many imaginary friends with which to play. Her early love of books and imagination probably inspired her to write later in life.

Montgomery did not have a very close relationship with her father growing up but when Montgomery was 16 she spent a year living with him, his second wife, and their family on the western part of Prince Edward Island. She began to write poetry and short stories and had a few pieces published in the newspaper. Although she enjoyed her time with her father and his family, after one year she returned to her grandparents and finished tenth grade. She then attended Prince of Wales College and got her teachers license in one year.

After receiving her license, Montgomery worked as a school teacher in several rural Canadian schools. At this time, Montgomery began working as a freelance writer and soon achieved success in periodicals. Eventually she was making enough money as a freelance writer to support herself without teaching. This allowed her to move back home to be with her ailing grandmother when her grandfather died in 1898. She continued to live with her grandmother until her grandmother’s death in 1911. While she took care of her grandmother she began writing novels, including her first, Anne of Green Gables.

After her grandmothers death she married Ewan Macdonald, a Presbyterian minister. She moved with him to Ontario and assisted him in running his parish. She also continued her successful writing career and had two sons. Although Montgomery wrote about many happy topics, her married life was less than pleasing. Her husband suffered from a serious mental disorder that made life very difficult for Montgomery. Eventually Macdonald was forced to retire from his duties as a minister and Montgomery supported the family with her income from writing. Montgomery passed away in April of 1942.

The Works of L.M. Montgomery

L.M. Montgomery is remembered the most for her Anne of Green Gables series which centers on Anne, an imaginative, red-headed orphan. In the series, Anne is adopted by a brother and sister pair, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. Anne grows up on Prince Edward Island, much like Montgomery herself. The Anne character shares other similarities with Montgomery as well: she works as a teacher, is a writer, and moves back home to take care of an ailing relative. The eight book series follows Anne’s life from childhood to adulthood when she has a family of her own.

Montgomery also wrote many other books and collections of short stories most of which were set on Prince Edward Island. Some of her short story collections, set in the town of Avonlea from the Anne books, include Chronicles of Avonlea and Further Chronicles of Avonlea. Montgomery wrote other novels as well including another series that features a main character who is an orphan: Emily of New Moon, Emily Climbs, and Emily’s Quest. Montgomery also published an autobiography during her lifetime entitled The Alpine Path: The Story of My Career. Since her death, scholars have edited and published some of her personal journals.

 The Legacy of L.M. Montgomery

L.M. Montgomery’s books, especially the Anne of Green Gables series, remain internationally popular to this day. They are frequently reprinted and even taught in some school English classes. Several modern adaptations of the series have been produced including a made for TV miniseries on CBC, a Japanese animated series, and a musical. Montgomery’s book The Story Girl inspired a 1990s television series The Road to Avonlea. The house that inspired Green Gables in the Anne series is now Green Gables Heritage Place, a Parks Canada Official Historical site. Thousands of visitors come each year to tour the fully restored house and the grounds and to visit the exhibition about Montgomery.

Montgomery’s legacy extends beyond popularity into the academic world; academics continue to study Montgomery and her writings. Various scholarly organizations are dedicated to Montgomery including the L.M. Montgomery Institute at the University of Prince Edward Island, the L.M. Montgomery Research Centre at University of Guelph, and the L.M. Montgomery Research group which was founded at the University of Toronto. These organizations all have somewhat different mission statements. The Research Centre focuses on the L.M. Montgomery collection at the University of Guelph library while the other two organizations are more focused on research.

Montgomery herself is perhaps just as famous as her books and characters, especially in Canada. An elementary school in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island was even named after Montgomery in 1983: L.M. Montgomery Elementary. Also, various biographies have been produced about Montgomery including a film A Celebration of Imagination: The life of L.M. Montgomery. Some of the written biographies only focus on specific time periods in her life such as L.M. Montgomery as Mrs. Ewan MacDonald of the Leaksdeale Manse 1911-1926 published by St. Paul’s Presbyterian Women’s Association of Leaksdeale and The Years Before Anne by Francis W.P. Bolger. L.M. Montgomery left a lasting mark on young adult literature and people are still curious about her and her life, hence the publication of her various biographies.