Lucy Maud Montgomery
This Famous Person Game - December 2016
by Mike McLeod
Lucy Maud Montgomery was the author of Anne of Green Gables and the creator of Anne Shirley. Rejected by several publishers, it took Montgomery two years to find one willing to print her book. Then in the first five months after its publication in 1908, 19,000 copies of Anne of Green Gables sold.1 Today, more than 50 million copies in 30+ languages have made this book classic, attesting to the appeal of Anne Shirley and the talent of Lucy Maud Montgomery.
In 1935, King George V awarded L.M. Montgomery with the honor of Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE). There are five classes of distinction in the OBE; the top two classes both receive the title of Knight or Dame. An Officer is class four. Even so, this was quite an honor for Lucy who was born, received most of her schooling, and worked as a teacher on Prince Edward Island in Canada. She became a prolific writer during her lifetime; she produced 20 books (including seven sequels to Anne), 500 poems and 530 short stories.2
A first edition, first printing of Anne of Green Gables is quite valuable. Bonhams sold one in 2012 for $20,000 and another in 2015 for $21,250. The L.M. Montgomery Literary Society gives some valuable information for collectors: “The first impression of Anne is April 1908, the second is July 1908. There were no impressions in June 1908, although later editions omit the April impression on the copyright page and list June instead. A true First Edition Anne of Green Gables means a book published by L.C. Page in April 1908. This is the date of the first impression which will be printed on the copyright page. And, the Roman numerals MDCCCCVIII on the title page do not mean a true first edition—they appear in the first 34 impressions. Every edition of Anne of Green Gables published by L.C. Page is a (c)1908 ‘first’ edition….”3
Another way to date Anne books, the Society says, is by the prices listed after the title page: “$1.50 = 1909-1911; $1.65 = 1920 (49th imp); $1.75 = 1920 (50th imp); $1.90 = 1923; $2.00 = 1924-1940; $2.25 = 1944; $2.50 = 1947.”4
Shall I leave it at that? If you want a happy ending, then please, cease reading here.
Okay. As Anne once said: “Next to trying and winning, the best thing is trying and failing.”
Maud lost her mother at a young age, was given by her father to her stern grandparents to raise, and did not get along with her father’s wife after he remarried. Born in 1874, Maud married in 1911 when she was in her mid-30s to a Presbyterian minister who later suffered horrendous mental illness. All of these factors—and undoubtedly other experiences—added up to Maud suffering from ultimately unbearable depression.
She passed away on April 24, 1942 from an overdose. Part of the note found by her 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.”5
Giving happiness to millions of people did not dispel Maud’s darkness. Even today when there are treatments for it, depression and mental illness still cause so many to suffer. Maud soldiered on to the age of 67, caring for her husband, until she could no longer bear the depression.
has, however, bequeathed a legacy of stories that give hope and happiness to all who know Anne Shirley. Lucy Maud Montgomery was correctly identified by Ted Carlton of Utah, Sherron Lawson of Roswell, Ga., and Florence Anne Berna, Visitor Center Manager of the Roswell Convention and Visitors Bureau in Roswell, Ga.
1 Abebooks.com, “Beloved Anne of Green Gables.”
2 Preface to Anne of Green Gables Complete Collection - 12 eBooks by Ageless Reads.
3, 4 The L.M. Montgomery Literary Society, http://lmmontgomeryliterarysociety.weebly.com.
5 Globeandmail.com, “Is this Lucy Maud's suicide note?” by James Adams, Sept. 24, 2008.
Quotes courtesy of Brainyquote.com.