One of Canada's most cherished authors, Lucy Maud Montgomery was born on November 30, 1874 in Clifton, Prince Edward Island. She was the daughter of Hugh John Montgomery and Clara Woolner Macneill Montgomery.
Shortly after giving birth Maud's mother was stricken with tuberculosis. As her condition worsened Hugh John moved the family back to Cavendish, to the home of his in-laws where his mother-in-law could help tend his wife and child. The Macneill's ran the local post office out of their house and helped care for their sick daughter and infant child. Clara succumbed to the illness on September 14, 1876 at the age of twenty-three, Maud was not yet two years old. Year's later Maud would speak of remembering her mother's wake and how she reached down and felt the coldness of her mother's cheek.
After his wife died, Hugh John sold his business and spent most of his time traveling. In 1884 he moved to Saskatchewan, leaving ten year old Maud in the care of her grandparents, Lucy and Alexander Macneill. Hugh John married Mary Anne McCrae in 1887 when Maud was thirteen. Growing up under an atmosphere of strict rules and discipline by her elderly grandparents, Maud became an avid reader and began to write.
In 1889, at the age of fifteen Maud went to live with her father, stepmother and their two small children. It was a hard time for Maude, a new home, unable to get along with her new stepmother and giving up her schooling in order to care for her new siblings. It was during this time in Saskatchewan that she sent a poem to the Daily Patriot, a local newspaper. Her first published piece was On Cape Le Force . After a year with her father, homesickness caused Maud to return to Prince Edward Island and her grandparents.
In 1895, qualifying for her teacher's license at Prince Wales College, Maud began teaching at Bideford. Returning to Cavendish in 1898 due to the death of her grandfather, Maud once again helped run the post office. She stayed there until 1901 when one of her cousins agreed to stay with her elderly grandmother and to help in the post office. This gave Maud the chance to pursue a career as editor and proofreader of the society page at the Halifax Echo. Maud was truly happy until June of 1902 when she had to return to Cavendish due to the discontent between her grandmother and cousin. Continuing her writing she had submitted Anne of Green Gables to four publishers and by 1904 all four had rejected her. Putting it aside in a hatbox, she continued writing articles and poetry.
Reverend Ewen MacDonald became the minister of the local Presbyterian Church in 1903. Ewen and Maud became close and in 1906 she agreed to marry him under the condition that they wait until after her grandmothers death. On June 20, 1908, at the age of thirty-four, Maud received a copy from her publisher of her first book, Anne of Green Gables .
Two years later, after the death of her grandmother in March, Maud was married to Reverend Ewen MacDonald on June 11, 1911, they had three children: Chester (1912), Hugh (stillborn in 1914), and Stuart (1915). Even though she was now successful with her writing, this did not mean an easy life for Maud. She was devastated over the death of her stillborn son, battles with her publishing company due to their withholding of royalties and reprint rights. Her husband suffered from mental relapse and had bouts of melancholia, which forced him to leave the ministry in 1935. During the late 1930's Maud suffered a mental breakdown and remained despondent until her death.
Lucy Maud Montgomery MacDonald died in Toronto, Ontario, on April 24, 1942, at the age of sixty-eight. In death, she was able to return to her beloved Prince Edward Island, buried in the Cavendish cemetery.
In addition to the well-known Anne of Green Gables and its six sequels, she produced more than twenty novels and short stories. Montgomery published only one volume of collected poems, The Watchman and Other Poems , in 1916. She also produced three of the miniature biographies in a volume called Courageous Women (1934). At her death she was working on another Anne book, which was much altered and published by her son as a collection of short stories called The Road to Yesterday (1974). She produced some one million words in her private journals, between 1889 and 1942, and requested in her will that these journals be preserved and published. Publication began on these in 1985.