Bachelor of Arts
Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
"If I'm to be dragged at Anne's chariot wheels the rest of my life I'll bitterly repent having 'created' her."[ So wrote Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874-1942) in September 1908, a mere few months after the publication of her first novel, Anne of Green Gables, which had quickly become a bestseller. Of course Montgomery knew, and we can see with hindsight, that "Anne's chariot wheels" were and are nothing to scoff at. Quite clearly they propelled Montgomery to popular renown, financial success and literary acclaim - both then and now. Then, beginning in 1908 and continuing through her career, "Anne's chariot wheels" provided the extra financial and morale boost necessary as Montgomery, a workmanlike but improving poet and generator of short stories, toiled along toward her lifelong goal. She desperately aspired, as she put it, to climb "the Alpine path" -- to gain noteworthy and meaningful achievement as a writer -- and Anne of Green Gables, as her first novel and most lasting legacy, naturally entailed a most significant ascent. Now, Anne classic paperbacks, tourist attractions, and commercial products, testaments to the continued force of the chariot wheels, are coupled with a resurgence of critical interest in Montgomery that has spawned essays, publications, conferences and even the establishment of an L. M. Montgomery Institute at the University of Prince Edward Island in 1993.
But it was the very ubiquity of Montgomery's literary association with her red-haired heroine that led to her 1908 outburst. Montgomery's frustration regarding "Anne's chariot wheels" derived from the fact that the writing of Anne's second adventure, Anne of Avonlea (1909), was proving a less satisfactory and delightful process than the first. The unforeseen popularity of Anne of Green Gables had brought with it pressure and expectation for an equally unforeseen sequel: a sequel in which, as Montgomery straightforwardly (and regretfully) stated, as fans reluctantly acknowledge, and as critics predictably harp upon, "Anne, grown-up, couldn't be made as quaint and unexpected as the child Anne" (GGL 74). In relative terms, the Anne sequels maintained Montgomery's commercial success. Public and publishers alike continued to demand them, and she produced seven in all. But Montgomery felt typecast into a specific genre, and occasionally confessed to her journal a longing to write "something entirely different."
Stein, Laurie Elizabeth, ""Life into Dry Bones": Emergence of the Female Artist and Community Integration in L.M. Montgomery's Novels of Development" (2006). Honors Papers. 459.