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What 19th century site in Prince Edward Island inspired Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery to write the popular 'Anne of Green Gables' novel?

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Born on Prince Edward Island, Canada's smallest province, Lucy Maud Montgomery, O.B.E. (30 November 1874 - 24 April 1942) as a child often visited the Green Gables farm in Cavendish. As shown in the photograph, the farm's name is derived from the rich dark green paint of the gables on the farmhouse which belonged to David and Margaret Mcneill, cousins of the author's grandfather. It is from this farmstead and neighbouring woodland pathways that inspired the setting for L.M. Montgomery to create her beloved romantic tale of a red-haired orphan, Anne of Green Gables. American publisher L.C. Page & Company (Boston) registers the copyright of 'Anne of Green Gables' in the U.S. on 12 June 1908 and the official first editions, with illustrations by the artist couple May Austin Claus and William Anton Joseph Claus, were issued during the same month. This first of a series of novels was an immediate success with 19,000 copies sold in the first five months and has since sold approximately 50 million copies worldwide. The book has been translated into more than a dozen languages, including Swedish as early as 1909.

Outside Prince Edward Island, Japan is the place where Anne of Green Gables has had the most influence and is considered by the Japanese as her unofficial second home. Known for her straw hat, red-haired braids and a pinafore, Anne “remains so popular that it has become ingrained in the national consciousness” since the book was translated and became part of the school curriculum in 1952. This contribution to Japanese culture was as a result of Miss Loretta Shaw, a New Brunswick missionary, who had given to her friend, Hanako Muraoka her prized copy of Anne of Green Gables as she left Japan just as hostilities erupted in 1939. Muraoka, a respected Japanese translator, secretly read and rendered the English text - now the language of the enemy - into Japanese, 'Akage no Anne' (Anne of the Red Hair) during the course of the Second World War. The height of Japanese fascination with Anne was during the mid-1990s when thousands visited a theme park called Canadian World that was opened in Hokkaido in 1993. Featured within Quebec City-style buildings and a miniature railroad is a full-size reproduction of the Green Gables house in Cavendish that is immaculately preserved, including Anne's dress laid out on her bed. Of the many 'Anne' fan-club links with Japan that continue to this day, it is worth noting that there is a nursing school nicknamed 'The Green Gables School of Nursing' in Okayama and is sister school with the University of Prince Edward Island's School of Nursing. Each year, thousands of Japanese, as well as other guests, visit Prince Edward Island to rekindle their fondness for Anne's simple life within a beautiful and idyllic setting. While Lucy Maud Montgomery was designated a Person of National Historic Significance by the Government of Canada on 20 May 1943, the Green Gables house, Montgomery's Cavendish home, and several landscape features such as the 'Haunted Wood Trail', 'Balsam Hollow Trail', and 'Lover's Lane', dear to Montgomery and familiar to her readers was formally recognized on 12 October 2004 as the L.M. Montgomery's Cavendish National Historic Site of Canada.

On this day, 12 June 2022, we mark the 114th anniversary of the publishing of the 'Anne of Green Gables' novel written by L.M. Montgommery and recognize Green Gables House in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island, as a National Historic Site of Canada for more than seventeen years.

André M. Levesque

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