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Author of "Anne of Green Gables" death a suicide, granddaughter reveals

September 22, 2008 |  7:24 am


Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of "Anne of Green Gables" and its sequels, died in 1942 at her own hand, her granddaughter revealed Saturday in Canada's "Globe and Mail."

The paper had run a series of articles on mental health and Kate Macdonald Butler, the daughter of Montgomery's youngest son, felt compelled to come forward with the truth of her grandmother's death. In an essay in the "Globe and Mail," Butler wrote: 

Despite her great success, it is known that she suffered from depression, that she was isolated, sad and filled with worry and dread for much of her life. But our family has never spoken publicly about the extent of her illness.

What has never been revealed is that L.M. Montgomery took her own life at the age of 67 through a drug overdose.

I wasn't told the details of what happened, and I never saw the note she left, but I do know that it asked for forgiveness.

Known to her friends as Maud and to readers as L.M. Montgomery, the author of "Anne of Green Gables" had a peripatetic youth, moving from Prince Edward Island to Saskatchewan and back. While caring for her aging grandmother, she wrote the first novel about the orphan Anne Shirley and her adoptive home on Prince Edward Island. That was 1908; this is the centenary of the publication of  "Anne of Green Gables."

After her grandmother's death, Montgomery married and moved to Ontario with her minister husband, continuing to pen "Anne of Green Gables" books as well as other works.

Will this add to or detract from Montgomery's legacy? Butler sees it as an important addition. She writes, "the legacy of L.M. Montgomery, and my grandfather, Rev. Ewan Macdonald, and its related responsibilities and joys, are taken very seriously by my family. I spoke with them before writing this essay and we agreed that it was important for us to share our family's story."

Carolyn Kellogg

Photo Credit: Library and Archives Canada