Lucy Maud Montgomery was born November 30, 1874 in Clifton (New London), Prince Edward Island to parents Clara (Macneill) and Hugh John Montgomery. When Maud was 21 months old, her mother died of tuberculosis and her grief stricken father sent her to live with her strict grandparents Alexander and Lucy Woolner Macneill in Cavendish. Maud felt isolated and would often create imaginary friends to cope with her loneliness. She read widely and began writing poems and stories that consisted of characters and locations from her imaginary world.
By the age of fifteen, Maud’s first poem was published in the Charlottetown Daily Patriot. In 1893, she attended Prince of Wales College in Charlottetown and obtained her teaching certificate. After studying literature at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Maud worked as a teacher in a one-room school in Bideford and began to have her short stories published in magazines and newspapers.
In Spring 1905, Montgomery read a faded entry in her notebook: "Elderly couple apply to orphan asylum for a boy. By mistake, a girl is sent to them." The entry inspired her to write Anne of Green Gables, the classic tale of the imaginative red-haired orphan Anne Shirley who is sent to live with Mathew and Marilla Cuthbert. The setting of Avonlea and Green Gables was loosely based on locations in Cavendish.
Published in June 1908, Anne of Green Gables was an instant success, selling 19,000 copies in its first six months. “I candidly confess that it was to me a proud and wonderful and thrilling moment,” Montgomery wrote in her journal after receiving her first copy. “There, in my hand, lay material realization of all the dreams and hopes and ambitions of my whole conscious existence."
Following her grandmother’s death, Montgomery married Presbyterian Minister Ewan Macdonald and moved to Leaskdale Ontario where Ewan accepted the position of a parish minister. Montgomery wrote eleven of her novels at the Leaskdale home, including The Story Girl and The Golden Road.
Montgomery died on April 24, 1942 and was buried in the Cavendish cemetary.
Since the publication of Anne of Green Gables in 1908, the work has sold more than 50 million copies and has been translated into 36 languages. The work has many film adaptations, made for television movies, and musicals and plays. Due to the enduring popularity of Montgomery's works, fans from all over the world travel to Prince Edward Island to visit the island that inspired the beloved classic.