“You have the itch for writing born in you. It's quite incurable. What are you going to do? You might as well use it?” – L.M. Montgomery
I had the good fortune of sharing the pages of a book with the marvelous Lucy Maud Montgomery, who rocketed to worldwide acclaim with her very first book, Anne of Green Gables, and really never looked back. Over a 45-year writing career, she ended up publishing 20 novels, many featuring her lead character Anne Shirley. But she also wrote a remarkable 530 short stories. One of them was chosen for the anthology A Farm Country Christmas, and to my delight, so was one of mine.
After the book’s publication, I felt the urge to visit Prince Edward Island, the setting for the book. The house’s gables indeed were green, and as we sat on its beautiful lawn and gazed out at the beauty of the North Atlantic, it was easy to see how such a setting could lead to her book.
Anne Shirley made Montgomery famous in her lifetime and gave her an international following. Mark Twain called Anne, “the dearest and most moving and delightful child since the immortal Alice.” (I believe he was referring to that one who made that visit to Wonderland).
By the time of her death in 1942, Montgomery also had written some 500 poems and 30 essays and been honored as the first female in Canada to be named a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in England. In 1935 she was invested into the Order of the British Empire, one of the highest British honors. Anne of Green Gables has now sold more than 50 million copies and been published in 20 languages worldwide, the ideals of the lead character upheld as standards by which we all might hope to live.
“We must have ideals and try to live up to them, even if we never quite succeed,” Montgomery once noted. “Life would be a sorry business without them. With them it's grand and great.” Indeed.
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