First appearance: 1.1: The Journey Begins
Hetty King embodied the spirit of the King family and the town of Avonlea. Hetty's strong stand for tradition and the importance of family and community was reflected in her fierce resistance to change. Her traditional beliefs would often conflict with the inevitable changing of times, not only among her family, but with the world at the beginning of the twentieth century.
First appearance: 1.1: The Journey Begins
Arguably the single most important character in the series, Hetty King embodied the spirit of the King family and the town of Avonlea. Hetty's strong stand for tradition and the importance of family and community was reflected in her fierce resistance to change. Her traditional beliefs would often conflict with the inevitable changing of times, not only among her family, but with the world at the beginning of the twentieth century.
The Early Years
Hetty was the eldest of the children of Grandfather Heziah king. In youth, Hetty was carefree and would often show up for school late. When her mother died, she had to grow up fast in order to care for her younger siblings.
Hetty's early love interest was Romney Penhallow. In the seventh grade, Romney invited Rachel Lynde to the 1868 Christmas party to make Hetty jealous. The plan misfired and Hetty swore she would never talk to either one of them again.
Hetty went to school to become a teacher and graduated from Queen's College. Her rival, Muriel Stacey, won the distinguished 'Gold Graduation medal' and became the Avonlea school teacher. After Muriel left Avonlea, Hetty took her position and taught with a strict disciplinarian method for many years.
Hetty was strongly against the marriage between Blair Stanley and her sister Ruth. When Ruth died of consumption, Hetty blamed Blair for her untimely death and a bitter feud existed between them for years.
Old Quarrels, Old Love
In 1903, Blair Stanley was put under house arrest for embezzlement charges and sent his daughter Sara to live at Rose Cottage. Hetty's strict manner of upbringing conflicted sharply with her niece's pampered upbringing in Montreal.
Blair Stanley was later proven innocent and returned to take Sara home with him. A bitter feud was rekindled between Blair and Hetty when Hetty refused to be parted with Sara. When Sara was injured, Blair allowed Sara to remain until she recovered (1.13: Nothing Endures But Change).
The following summer, Blair Stanley was tragically killed when a scaffold collapsed at Stanley imports. Following a bitter feud between Hetty and Louisa Banks, it was decided that Sara would remain in Avonlea with the King family (2.1: Sara's Homecoming).
Hetty became infuriated when her rival, Muriel Stacey, became superintendent of schools. After hearing villagers praise Muriel for teaching such prized students as Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe, Hetty wanted to find a prized pupil of her own.
She ventured to the cannery and found a willing student in Gus Pike. Despite their rough beginning, Hetty later learned to admire Gus's wiliness to learn and achieve higher goals in life (2.3: Aunt Hetty's Ordeal).
Shortly afterwards, Romney Penhallow, who had become a successful artist, returned to Avonlea. Hetty attempted to avoid him, but Romney's persistence caused Hetty to accidentally fall into a pond. Despite this humiliating reunion, Hetty and Romney resumed their antagonistic friendship and ended the "36 year war" between them.
Hetty soon discovered that Romney was sick and had to leave the island for medical reasons. Not long afterwards, she discovered that Romney passed away (2.5: Old Quarrels, Old Love).
A Mother's Love and Discipline
In winter 1904, Sara wrote an essay for Mother's Own Magazine on why Hetty should be 'Mother of the Year.' Sara was taunted by Felicity and Sally, who claimed that Hetty was nothing more than an Aunt.
A dispute was sparked between Janet and Hetty over the concept of mothering. Janet believed in a "sacred bond of motherhood" and rejected Hetty's claim that upbringing and education was more important for raising a child.
Sara and Felix devised a scheme and wrote a letter stating that Felicity was switched at birth with Sally Potts. The scheme sent Felicity into an identity crisis and caused an uproar between the King and Potts families. The crisis was resolved and Sara's essay prevailed at making Hetty 'Mother of the Year' (A Mother's Love).
Despite the praise Hetty received as 'Mother of the Year,' her parental relationship with Sara reached a boiling point in summer 1905.
Hetty's relentless disciplinarian style caused Sara to switch places with a foul-mouthed look-alike and leave Avonlea on a daring adventure with Gus Pike (3.2: But When She Was Bad... She Was Horrid). The traumatic ordeal caused Hetty to become more lenient with her willful niece as she grew older and pursued romantic interests (see Sara Stanley).
Hetty took a sabbatical from teaching in the spring of 1907 to help Olivia take care of her baby, Montgomery (4.1: Tug of War). During that time, Hetty began writing pulp fiction romances and was astonished when publishers were willing to accept her works for distribution.
With her first work, 'The Lady and the Blade', a success, Hetty continued her career as a writer, often collaborating with her teaching replacement Clive Pettibone. Hetty became co-proprietor of the White Sands Hotel with Simon Tremayne in February 1908 in order to study people for characters in her writing material (4.9: Hearts and Flowers).
Hetty was devastated when an American industrialist, H.B. Dunn, attempted to buy all the villagers property and convert Avonlea into a town of the future. Hetty formed an alliance with Jasper Dale and used Jasper's motion picture to show the town the importance of the tradition of their community. Hetty's moving speech rallied the town against Dunn and the offer to modernize the town was rejected (4.12: Home Movie).
Memento Mori and the Sweet Mysteries of Life
In Summer the following year, Hetty's 50th birthday was marked by disappointment as her publishers terminated her writing contract. She began to question the worth of her life's accomplishments and fell ill, having to undergo a risky surgery. When she recovered from the operation, she began to have a new outlook on life (5.2: Memento Mori).
Shortly afterwards, Hetty purchased the cannery from H.B. Dunn to prevent it from becoming a distillery. She turned the business over to Jasper and Olivia Dale when Jasper had ideas of improving it's efficiency (5.3: Modern Times).
In 1910, Hetty learned that her former rival and now friend, Rachel Lynde had suffered a stroke. She allowed Rachel and the Keith twins to stay at Rose Cottage until Rachel recovered (6.10: Home is Where the Heart is).
The next winter, Hetty became engaged to her co-proprietor at the White Sands hotel, Simon Tremayne. Their pending marriage was strained however, when Hetty learned that the Deputy Minister of education planned to shut down the Avonlea schoolhouse.
Hetty challenged the Carmody school to compete in an academic contest against her Avonlea pupils in order to keep her school open. When Hetty was accused of cheating, the pressure of having her reputation tarnished causes her to call off her engagement with Simon. It is eventually proven that Hetty didn't cheat and the Avonlea schoolhouse was allowed to remain open (7.8: Ah... Sweet Mysteries of Life).
For most of her life, Hetty had remained in Avonlea; however, when she discovered that Gus Pike, who was previously considered dead, could possibly be alive, she ventured with Felicity to Charleston North Carolina in search of her former pupil.
They were able to locate Gus and convince him to return to Avonlea, where he and Felicity were to be married. The celebration was short lived. Hetty started yet another bitter rivalry with her family when Olivia announced the she and Jasper were leaving to England and wanted to take their portion of the King trust with them.
Hetty was strongly against their decision, but was able to reach a compromise and reunite with her family (7.13: So Dear to My Heart). Hetty continued to teach school in Avonlea and support the traditions of her beloved town.
Happy Christmas Miss King
In December 1914, Hetty and Rachel Lynde set out to recruit a famous performer and former student, Wilfred Aimsley, for the Avonlea Christmas Musicale. While following Aimsley to the Lieutenant Governor's ball, Hetty became reacquainted with Arthur Pettibone, who was interning at the Charlottetown hospital.
While dancing with Arthur, Hetty was injured and scheduled to undergo a life threatening back surgery. Ainsley visited Hetty in the hospital and agreed to perform at the Christmas concert. Hetty recovered from the back surgery.
the King family were devastated when they received notice that Felix was missing in action. As a result, Hetty's support of the war effort conflicted with Janet's growing resentment in light of Felix's status. Miraculously, Felix eluded death and returned home to celebrate with his relieved family (Happy Christmas Miss King).
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