Lucy Maud Montgomery was born November 30, 1874, and raised on her beloved Prince Edward Island in Canada.
Known professionally as simply “L.M. Montgomery,” the author penned a string of hit novels following the adventures of a young redheaded orphan, the titular character of her first novel, Anne of Green Gables.
Whether or not you’ve read the books or watched one of the many interpretations on film and television, chances are your mind can still instantly drum up an image of the iconic fictional character and her trademark braided pigtails.
The series has gained countless loyal fans in the over 100 years since the initial novel’s publication, but even those who have read every book multiple times might not know all of the surprising facts about the author listed below.
Take a look to see how well you know the woman behind Anne’s many adventures.
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[H/T: L.M. Montgomery Institute]
1. She Hated Her First Name
She was named after her grandmother, but preferred to go by her middle name, which her mother took from Queen Victoria’s daughter, Princess Alice Maud Mary.
Her published journals revealed her true feelings with an entry stating, “I never liked Lucy as a name. I always liked Maud — spelled not ‘with an e’ if you please.”
2. Her Mother Passed Away When She Was Still A Baby
Maud was only 21 months old when her mother, Clara Woolner Macneill, fell victim to tuberculosis.
Her father soon left his infant daughter in the care of her maternal grandparents, Alexander and Lucy Woolner Macneill, and started a new life and family in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.
3. Her Life On Prince Edward Island Inspired Anne Of Green Gables
Like her most famous fictional character, the author spent much of her childhood outdoors embracing nature and exploring the land.
She later used descriptions of those very same surroundings in the novel. Archivist Elizabeth Bornstein from A Suitcase Full of Books detailed the translation of places like Maud’s uncle’s pond becoming “The Lake of Shining Waters” and the cowpath behind her family’s pasture turning into “Lover’s Lane.”
4. She Had Imaginary Friends Growing Up
Maud’s Encyclopedia entry reveals that Anne’s naming of imaginary friends in the novel was inspired by the author’s own make-believe buddies while growing up largely isolated from other kids her age.
5. She Kept Her Writing A Secret From Her Family
In her 1917 autobiography, The Alpine Path: The Story of My Career, Maud admits that it was difficult for her to get started as an author, as she worked alone, fearing discouragement from those around her. However, she never let the frustration waver her resolve.
“Down, deep down, under all discouragement and rebuff, I knew I would ‘arrive’ some day,” she said.
6. She Worked For The Local Post Office Before Making It Big
According to the Canadian Museum of History, it was easy for the author to keep her ambition a secret from others thanks to her job as an assistant postmistress at the post office in Cavendish. From there, she could send off her submissions and intercept responses to manuscripts far from prying eyes.
7. Every Single Publisher Rejected Anne Of Green Gables At First
She first sent the manuscript for her most famous novel back in 1905, but ultimately couldn’t pique a single publisher’s interest. Maud was so disgruntled that she stuffed the pages into a hat box and hid them in her closet for two years.
In 1907, she dusted of the manuscript again and decided to give it another shot. This time, the Page Company of Boston accepted the novel and published it the following year. It became an instant best-seller.
8. She Originally Didn’t Want To Write The Sequels
According to the Ottawa Citizen, shortly after completing her first sequel, Maud wrote: “I’m awfully afraid if the thing takes, they’ll want me to write her through college. The idea makes me sick.”
But she was contractually bound to continue Anne’s story for as long as the books sold well, which led to a total of six books before she finally put her foot down and embraced a new character, Emily. She eventually returned to Anne with 1936’s Anne of Windy Poplars, followed by Anne of Ingleside in 1939.
9. She Hid Her Engagement From Her Grandmother
Although she accepted the proposal from Reverend Ewan Macdonald in 1906, Maud kept the relationship a secret from her grandmother. The pair waited five years to wed — after her grandmother’s death in 1911.
10. She Kept Detailed Diaries Throughout Her Life
Among details of the beautiful nature surrounding her family’s home and descriptions of her daily life, Maud scribbled a small note that would become the foundation of her Anne novels: “Elderly couple apply to orphan asylum for a boy. By mistake a girl is sent them.”
She rediscovered the passage 10 years after writing it as a young girl and immediately began plotting the redhead’s story.
11. She Was A Published Author At 16
While spending a year with her father and his new family from 1890 to ’91, Maud submitted a poem called “On Cape LeForce” to the Prince Edward Island newspaper, The Patriot. It became the author’s first-ever published work.
12. There Is Mystery Surrounding Her Death
In 2008, which was the 100th anniversary of Anne of Green Gables being published, Maud’s granddaughter Kate Macdonald Butler wrote a shockingly revealing piece for The Globe and Canada Mail. In it, she claimed the author left a note confirming her death as a suicide from overdosing on drugs.
The letter read: “I have lost my mind by spells and I do not dare think what I may do in those spells. May God forgive me and I hope everyone else will forgive me even if they cannot understand. My position is too awful to endure and nobody realizes it. What an end to a life in which I tried always to do my best.”
However, biographer Mary Henley Rubio told the same newspaper that she believes the note is up for interpretation and doesn’t implicitly mean Maud took her own life.
Did you learn any surprising facts about the Anne of Green Gables author?
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