Literary Pilgrimage: Lucy Maud Montgomery's inspiration for Anne's Green Gables
July 11, 2015
Today I visited the house that inspired L. M. Montgomery's Green Gables, home to the beloved character Anne Shirley. I'm in Canada for this trip and specifically on Prince Edward Island because I fell in love with the idea of PEI from reading Anne of Green Gables as a girl. Rare are the opportunities to experience something beloved in childhood and fully alive in one's imagination as an adult and have the reality surpass a wee one's wildest dreams.
I knew I wanted to come to PEI because it would be beautiful. My trip here and to Nova Scotia promised amazing natural beauty—ocean waves, rocky beaches, red cliffs, multicolored lupins—plenty of "scope for the imagination" to quote Ms. Maud herself.
What I didn't realize, until I almost wept while at Green Gables, was what a sincere literary pilgrimage this trip was and how it would affect me in ways I could not anticipate. A recollection flashed to mind of the Scholastic Book Fairs we had at the library at my childhood school. Can't recall if that's where I got my copy of AoGG, but those fairs further encouraged the love of books and reading my family had instilled in me from infancy. Part of what moved me so today was the chance to peer into the corners of an author's inspiration.
I feel so grateful to have the chance to see the home that inspired part of stories that have touched so many. Re-reading Anne of Green Gables and reading several of the sequels for the first time, romantic notions, writerly aspirations, and flights of imagination still stir within me. What a delight to still have a beloved old friend of a book inspire all manner of girlish fancy—and optimism, perhaps that most of all. L. M. Montgomery's lovely descriptions truly are a love letter to this wonderful slice of earth—Prince Edward Island.