Written by Google Doodle honoree Lucy Maud Montgomery, the beloved adventures of Anne of Green Gables features a young girl who lives on Prince Edward Island. That much is true to her author’s life. The Canadian Montgomery, who was past 30 when she invented her famously red-haired and spunky protagonist in 1905, spent much of her life on Prince Edward Island. (The first Anne of Green Gables book was published in 1908.) The titular Anne Shirley was an orphan, mistakenly paired with a family that had wanted to adopt a boy to help on the island farm. The self-possessed 11-year-old endeared herself to her adoptive parents fast.
Montgomery won myriad awards and honors as a writer — and Anne of Green Gables books have sold 50 million copies in 20 languages, not to mention being brought to film and stage multiple times. It was the author’s imagination that paved the way. The young Anne Shirley — probably stuck in a perennial tie for famous orphans named Anne or Annie — was entirely a work of fiction. Many of the adventures Anne gets into were drawn from Montgomery’s own life on the island. But all fiction has some tie to reality. To know that the stories are an invention all you really must know is that Lucy Maud Montgomery didn’t even have red hair.