New Coin Celebrates Lucy Maud Montgomery

Most of us know Anne of Green Gables, but do you know much about the author behind the beloved character?

Most recently, the Royal Canadian Mint officials unveiled a new $1 coin featuring Lucy Maud Montgomery and her most famous character, redheaded orphan Anne (with an E) Shirley.

Lucy Maud Montgomery, commonly known as L.M. Montgomery, was born on November 30, 1874, in Clifton (now New London), Prince Edward Island, Canada. After her mother died of tuberculosis when Lucy was just 21 months old, her father moved to Prince Albert. However, after visiting her father for a brief stint of time, she returned to live with her strict, elderly grandparents in Cavendish, PEI. During her childhood, her grandparents showed her little affection, resulting in a childhood of isolation and loneliness. This strict upbringing also caused her to have a deep connection with nature, which would later influence her writing.

In order to cope with her feelings, along with reading a great deal, Lucy also wrote poetry and kept journals beginning age nine. In her mid-teens, she started writing short stories, which she first published in local newspapers before selling them to magazines across North America.

In 1894, Lucy earned a teaching certificate from the Prince of Wales College in Charlottetown. She later studied literature at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Throughout her years as a student and teacher, she continued to write and publish short stories and poems in various magazines and newspapers.

The idea for “Anne of Green Gables” came to her in 1904 when she stumbled upon a newspaper story about an orphan girl mistakenly sent to a couple who had wanted a boy. Inspired by this premise, Lucy began writing the novel, creating the character of Anne Shirley, an imaginative and spirited orphan who transforms the lives of the people in the fictional town of Avonlea.

Lucy completed “Anne of Green Gables” in 1905 but faced multiple rejections from publishers. Finally, in “the depths of despair” (a favorite quote of Anne Shirley), she stored the manuscript away in a hatbox for years. Later, after re-reading it, she decided to send the novel out for publication one last time, where it was finally accepted by the Boston-based company L.C. Page & Company in 1908. The book was an immediate success, receiving critical acclaim and becoming a bestseller. The story’s charm, humor, and heartfelt portrayal of Anne’s adventures and misadventures resonated with readers of all ages, making it a beloved classic.

The success of “Anne of Green Gables” allowed Lucy to become a full-time writer. She went on to write numerous sequels chronicling Anne’s life, as well as other novels, short stories, and poems. Despite her professional success, Montgomery’s personal life was often fraught with challenges, including a troubled marriage to Presbyterian minister Ewan Macdonald, who suffered from mental illness, and her own battles with depression.

Montgomery is the first Canadian author to be featured on a coin, which began circulating on June 27. The artwork on the coin was created by Island artist Brenda Jones and features a profile of Lucy as she would have looked around the time Anne of Green Gables was written, her signature, and the cat drawing she often included when signing her name.

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