6/29/2008

Pop-culture woman of the week - Anne Shirley

Name: Anne Shirley
Appearance: Anne of Green-Gables (1908)
Creator: Lucy Maud Montgomery
Weapon/ability: A vivid imagination
Race: Canadian
Age: Eleven at the start of the story

Anne Shirley is the heroine of a series of books written by the Canadian author L.M. Montgomery. The first book, Anne of Green-Gables, was published in 1908 - though set in the 1870's. This book met with great success and it was followed by a whole series of books following Anne into adulthood and onto having children on her own. The last book, Rilla of Ingleside, is set with the First World War as the back-drop (and focusing more on her youngest daughter).

Anne Shirley is orphaned at an early age with her parents dying of typhoid fever. After some shorter stops she is brought to Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, living in Avonlea, Prince Edwards Island. (Avonlea is a wholly fictional but inspired by places like Cavendish). They had decided on adopting a young boy to help out the elderly siblings with their farm. But there is a mix-up and instead they get a red-headed girl with a lot of freckles and a very vivid imagination. Their first thought is to send her back since they really have no need for her, but in the end they relent and let her stay on - never to regret their decision (or really Marilla's decision, since she is the one in charge when it comes to everything practical).

The rest of the book is devoted to Anne's everyday life in the village, going to school and making good friends (especially Diana Barry). She is kind, eager to please and fun which makes her everyone's favourite. The book ends when she is 16 and she has decide on her future - she has got a prize that would allow her to go away to study, but Matthew dies and Marilla has a failing eye-sight making her need Anne's help even more. It ends with her giving up the price to start teaching instead.

The later books are (in order of the story, not when they were written):
Anne of Avonlea (1909), Anne of the Island (1915), Anne of Windy Poplars (1936), Anne's House of Dreams (1917), Anne of Ingleside (1939), Rainbow Valley (1919) and Rilla of Ingleside (1921). The books follows Anne's career as a teacher and her going away to finally get her B.A., followed by her marriage. The last three books focuses almost solely on her children.

Anne's story was, according to the author's diary, inspired by relatives who was going to adopt a boy but ended up with a girl instead (though the outcome of that mistake is not known). Anne's looks were based on a paper-clipping Montgomery had on her desk about the chorus girl and model Evelyn Nesbit (who was known for her looks - and for being involved somehow in her husbands murder of a lover of hers).

There has been several adaptions of Anne of Green Gables, both as movies and TV-series. The movie from 1934 is worth mentioning if so only for the fact of the actress who played Anne after the filming changed her stage-name to Anne Shirley. The most popular TV-adaption is in all probability Anne of Green Gables (1985) by CBC and the follow-up Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel (1987), both with Megan Follows as Anne (as seen on the picture above). There has been later continuations of the series, but they have been criticized for being both being sloppy with following the original story and being contradictory to the earlier series.

No comments: