The Kidnapping of Anne of Green Gables

Leftists have been trying to kidnap Anne of Green Gables, Canada’s most famous literary icon, for years. The 1908 classic, the first in a series of eight by Lucy Maud Montgomery, sold over 50 million copies and has been translated into 36 languages, making it one of the bestselling novels of all time. The story of the 11-year-old orphan girl on Prince Edward Island, her friends, her struggles, and her love for Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, who adopted her, have remained beloved for over a century. Anne of Green Gables cannot be canceled, and thus she must be hijacked or rewritten. Innocence and the high drama of ordinary living have no place in the 21st century.

Back in 2000, a professor at the Royal Military College insisted that Anne Shirley was likely a lesbian and that her creator was, too, despite Montgomery having rather unambiguously stated that “I am not a lesbian.” The evidence? Her ‘bosom friendships’ and kindred spirits. This is part of the sexualizing of all intimacy, in which close relationships must be recharacterized as sexual to justify the appetites of activists. The romance between Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe is the best-known in Canadian literature, and the rest of the series details their marriage and family life. Montgomery herself was married to a Presbyterian minister and had three children.

Reinterpretation of classic literature is a booming industry. As Tristin Hopper noted in the National Post, in “recent years, even the P.E.I.-based L.M. Montgomery Institute has issued statements accusing their namesake of being a purveyor of colonialist white supremacy,” and in 2022, they hosted “a conference of scholars who ‘have experience discussing Montgomery’s work in connection to conversations on queer theory and gender, colonialism, and diversity in literature.” Indeed, one academic called Montgomery gay; another LGBT activist writes that she was ‘homophobic.’ It never seems to occur to LGBT activists that sometimes their proclivities are simply not relevant to the conversation.

Where reinterpretation fails, the story has been retold. Exhibit A is the blessedly canceled Netflix show Anne with an E, which, on 1880s Prince Edward Island, features a cross-dressing gala (a ‘queer soiree’ to celebrate a recently deceased lesbian), plenty of LGBT relationships, and characters constantly leaping to defend LGBT lifestyles. When Diana Barry discovers that her Aunt Josephine was in a lifelong lesbian relationship that Anne refers to as a ‘marriage,’ she is upset, but enlightened Anne says, “How can there be anything wrong with a life if it’s spent with a person you love?” The point is made with a club. No interpretation is necessary.

The feminists also like to claim Anne Shirley as their own because she is smart, assertive, and independent, as if such people didn’t exist before Gloria Steinem. Again, this is to ignore Montgomery’s entire corpus, which includes twenty novels and over five hundred short stories. Most are old-fashioned romances set in small towns among staunchly religious Presbyterians—Anne included. Montgomery wrote about the places she knew and loved and drew from her own life as a church-going pastor’s wife. To feminists, of course, Anne Shirley wasn’t really free because abortion wasn’t available on Prince Edward Island (indeed—PEI held out longer on that front than any other Canadian province). Feminists would have been thrilled if Anne had an abortion in the books rather than a family of seven children.

In short, it is swiftly becoming impossible to simply celebrate Anne of Green Gables without some insisting that we talk about everything else as well. Parks Canada has just released a 23-page strategic outline for overhauling L.M. Montgomery’s Cavendish National Historic Site, which includes the PEI farmhouse where Montgomery grew up as well as the nearby Green Gables farmstead that served as the inspiration for many of the locations in her novels. The sites attract 200,000 visitors per year—even Princess Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, was drawn to PEI by Anne. Parks Canada now plans to overhaul the sites to emphasize “marginalized communities” and present “new narratives, perspectives and voices” of “cultures not currently presented.”


One thought on “The Kidnapping of Anne of Green Gables

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *