A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
JUNE 14:

  • Happy birthday Judith Kerr (When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit), Janice May Udry (A Tree is Nice), Lensey Namioka (Ties That Bind, Ties That Break), Bruce Degen (Jamberry, Magic School Bus series), Penelope Farmer (Charlotte Sometimes), Laurence Yep (Dragonwings), and James Gurney (Dinotopia).
  • It’s the birth date of John Bartlett (1820-1905), Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, Nicolas Bentley (1907-1978), The Wind on the Moon, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896), Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
  • In 1938 Action Comics issue #1 releases, introducing Superman. Read Boys of Steel: the Creators of Superman by Marc Tyler Nobleman, illustrated by Ross MacDonald, Superman: The Story of the Man of Steel by Ralph Cosentino.

In June of 1908, Anne of Green Gables appeared on the list of a small Boston firm, L.C. Page and Company. Then-unknown Canadian author L.M. Montgomery had found it difficult to find a publisher in the United States—and so she did what so many new authors do today. She submitted to the Page brothers because she believed it might be easier to get published by a small press.

As luck would have it, a young editorial assistant from Prince Edward Island read the manuscript and fell in love with it. The owners of the firm seemed less enthusiastic. When they wrote the author, they suggested that the book might not do very well, and so they wanted to make a deal with her. She would get a flat fee of $500, and the firm would retain all rights to the book in perpetuity. As the author later admitted, she now had to make one of the hardest decisions in her life. In 1908, $500 was a lot of money. But she had such belief in her character—could she not give Anne away even for $500. In the end, she negotiated a reduced royalty on each book sold, a mere $.09 a copy.

Although the firm created less than two thousand copies for the first print run, the book met with immediate acclaim. Anne of Green Gables would go through six printings in six months, selling nineteen thousand copies. At the end of that period, the now much more famous author received her first royalty check—for $1730. She had been right about her character, one whom Mark Twain believed to be the most lovable child in fiction to follow Alice in Wonderland.

Anne Shirley, a redheaded, determined orphan, realizes the minute she arrives at the farmhouse called Green Gables that she wants to stay forever. But she fears that the Cuthberts will send her away because they wanted a sturdy boy to help with the farm work. Anne ultimately charms her new family, neighborhood, and readers—and her exploits continue in other volumes. The author so brilliantly re-creates the landscape and people of Prince Edward Island in southeastern Canada, that today millions of families travel there to see the house that inspired Green Gables, run by the Canadian Park Service and the L. M. Montgomery Museum.

Anne always called her special friends “kindred spirits.” Today there are legions of them, all over the world. Happy 103th birthday Anne of Green Gables. It would be hard to imagine the children’s book world without this glorious book.

Here’s a passage from Anne of Green Gables:

 

The girl let the braid drop back with a sigh that seemed to come from her very toes and to exhale forth all the sorrows of the ages.

“Yes, it’s red,” she said resignedly. “Now you see why I can’t be perfectly happy. Nobody could who had red hair. I don’t mind the other things as much—the freckles and the green eyes and my skinniness. I can imagine them away. I can imagine that I have a beautiful rose leaf complexion and lovely starry violet eyes. But I cannot imagine that red hair away. I do my best. I think to myself, ‘Now my hair is a glorious black, black as the raven’s wing.’ But all the time I know it is just plain red, and it breaks my heart. It will be my lifelong sorrow. I read of a girl once in a novel who had a lifelong sorrow, but it wasn’t red hair. Her hair was pure gold rippling back from her alabaster brow. What is an alabaster brow? I never could found out. Can you tell me?”

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Originally posted June 14, 2011. Updated for .

Tags: Family, Friendship, History, Humor
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for Anne of Green Gables
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COMMENTS

  1. Erica S. says:

    Interesting new cover – not quite how I pictured Anne, but I guess it might be a bit more appealing to a younger reader…hopefully they’ll be inspired to pick this up!

  2. suzi w. says:

    It is a sorrow to me that I don’t remember when I first read the books. My Anne memories come from the beautifully done WonderWorks/Kevin Sullivan movies. But that doesn’t matter. I have loved Anne from the first…and love it when a friend calls me a “kindred spirit.”

    I do remember buying the Emily books, though, so I must have read the Anne books before that. There was a bookstore in the mall run by an American man in a wheelchair. That’s where I bought all my books, when I was a girl in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Wow, I haven’t thought of that store in ages.

    Anita, though we haven’t met in person, I consider you a “kindred spirit.” Not only do you write well about interesting things, but your kindness in sharing stories with me over Twitter has put me on your team forever.

  3. Rebecca says:

    I read this book so many times as a child I practically memorized it! Great story – glad L.M. Montgomery held out and believed in her characters!

  4. G.Perry says:

    As an adult, I first encountered Anne of Green Gables by watching the videos with Megan Fellows, and I have watched it numerous times, never tiring of it.

    However, one day a fellow book enthusiast and I got talking, and she was thunderstruck that I had not actually read the books. I said I had tried a few pages but that they seemed dull in comparison to the films, so I would give up a few pages in. She challenged me to read at least the first book, and take my time with it, and report back. I agreed, and I discovered how profoundly wrong I had been. I love these books and will reread them many times.

  5. Sharon H (@ReadingChick) says:

    When I was in 8th grade my mother, frustrated by my indifference, told me I was going to read this book. It took me a while to read but when I did I was hooked. I didn’t know that books could take me to places in my imagination. I believe Anne of Green Gables changed my life — I was now a reader. And now I’m a librarian. Yes, Anne of Green Gables made me a librarian.

    There is a passage in James Michener’s The Novel (google books tells me page 114), that talks about Anne of Green Gables… how a character read the book as a young child and found that her imagination took her away to places she’d never been. I realized that this was a universal experience and Anne of Green Gables really is a special book. Love.

    I can’t wait to see Lauren Child’s illustrations.

  6. Tobin says:

    Thank you for telling this wonderful story, Anita! I love the touch about the editorial assistant from P.E.I. She should, perhaps, be the patron saint of editorial assistants everywhere!

    (Editorial assistants need a patron saint. Or someone to pray to.)

    mta

  7. Sondy says:

    Anita, I’m so happy that you chose this book to post about on my birthday! I am a hardcore LM Montgomery fan. I have all her books, including her journals. My favorites are The Blue Castle and the Emily books, but Anne is the one who started them all. I read it the first time in 10th grade, and it was a breath of fresh air. I’ve found kindred spirits by finding other people who love Anne, including my college roommate. Just delighted when I saw this was your post for today.

  8. Caryl B. says:

    I loved all the Anne books and am so thankful my grandmother shared them with me. Now I am hoping to read the first one in a mother/daughter book club I’d like to start with my daughter who will be a 5th grader this fall.

  9. Ann Featherstone says:

    I still have the copy my mom bought for me in 1962. I started to read it immediately but dropped it when Anne Shirley derided the “dreadful” look of my name, spelled as it was, without the distinguished “E.” It took me more than a year to pick it up again, and when I did, I learned to forgive Anne, to love her like a sister, and cherish the book my mother had also loved when she was young. True kindred spirits of Anne will also cherish “The Annotated Anne of Green Gables” published in 1997 by Oxford University Press. It’s a treasure trove of everything “Anne.” If you ever wanted to know more about anodyne liniment or every verse of “Curfew Shall Not Ring Tonight,” this is the book for you!

  10. Ann Featherstone says:

    Oops. It’s actually “Curfew Must Not Ring Tonight.” I looked it up in my trusty “Annotated Anne.”

  11. After not reading this myself until an adolescent lit course in college, I made sure to read it to my kids while they were kids. We laughed with Anne, loved when she talked on and on, and were just as bedazzled by her as Matthew and Marilla.

  12. Anita says:

    Thank you everyone for this enthusiasm for Anne of Green Gables. I’m glad to learn she’s still finding “kindred spirits” in the world.

  13. Carrie Sanders says:

    I read this book when I was 12, and it is the book that has affected my life the most….despite all the books I read before and have read since. I can never hear the words “kindred spirits” without thinking of this marvelous book. I kept six years of journals as a teenager, writing to “Anne” because I knew she would understand every emotional hill and valley, and there was never a doubt what our first daughter’s name would be when she was born in 1991. I cannot imagine a world of children’s literatrue without Anne.

  14. Shoshana says:

    Anne definitely stands the test of time. Yes, it’s episodic (and not in the least what today’s editors are looking for), but LMM knew how to paint a character. The exchange between Anne and Matthew on that first drive home is perfection.

  15. Tess W. says:

    It took me three or four tries to read “Anne.” Not because Anne (spelled with an E!) isn’t genius but because like so many of the people Anne first encounters, I could not find a way to stick with her through her looooong verbal rambles. Then, one day, when I was in ninth grade, I suddenly and unconsciously took a page from Matthew Cuthbert (who never had trouble listening to Anne) and began paying attention to what Anne was saying. Not only was it fascinating to be part of her out-loud thought process but she said so many things that made me thing.

    It was all down-hill from there. I devoured the series and became obsessed with visiting P.E.I. Thank you, LMM!!

  16. Joanne Levy says:

    My very favourite book in the world! As I’m asked more and more what was my favourite (<– Canadian spelling) childhood book, Anne is always on my mind. I recently read the first book again to remind myself why, so I could write an essay about it, and you know, the book reads just as well from an adult perspective, but it's even funnier than I remember. That Anne-girl is so precocious and stubborn and I fell in love with her over again. As a fellow redheaded adoptee from Canada, I may be a bit biased, but perhaps not, since it's been a perpetual fav for generations. Thanks for this interesting publication info, Anita.

  17. Star says:

    I met someone in library school who was a collector. What did he collect? Copies of Anne of Green Gables!! He had zillions (yes, I just used that word!) of editions of the book, which he collected because he’d always loved the story and he found himself constantly charmed by the artwork on the various editions. I cannot tell you how much I wanted to invite myself to his house to see his collection, but it just didn’t seem appropriate as I didn’t know him very well! Anne would have been brave enough to ask him! I kick myself now for not doing so. He told me he’d been collecting them as a child when he found his mother’s two copies of the book, both with vastly different covers. He was hooked.

    I have long wanted to go to Prince Edward Island, because I’m an admitted Canada-phile….is that a word? I’m obsessed with all things Canadian. But I WILL get there someday to see the Green Gables house! Maybe when my girls are old enough to have read the books and can enjoy it with me!

  18. Krista says:

    This series is by far my favorite growing up! I still have my copies that I recieve as a gift from my Grandparents. I wish they were still alive so I could tell them how they really were the first books that I loved.

  19. I LOVED this book! Not only was it a great story, but Anne had red hair, was Anne with an “e” and so did I!

  20. Cathy Ogren says:

    I absolutely love this book! I feel Anne and I are “kindred spirits.” I recommend this book to anyone who will listen to me.

  21. Gailanne @GailanneSmith says:

    No one could be more “Anne” than Anne, but I always so wanted to be her friend. I think we would have been kindred spirits with our matching literary references and profound verbosity:) I wanted the Anne stories to go on and on!

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