2024 is L.M. Montgomery’s 150th birthday! The L.M. Montgomery Institute (LMMI) at the University of Prince Edward Island is celebrating with 150 tributes – celebratory statements or greetings – that reflect upon personal connections to Montgomery or on an aspect of her life, work, or legacy.

Story Girl 1925
Book cover of The Story Girl. Cornstalk, 1925. Ryrie-Campbell Collection, KindredSpaces.ca, 047 SG-CP.


Montgomery’s novels feature young aspiring and adult professional performers from various fields. One of the most memorable performers is Sara Stanley, from The Story Girl, whose Uncle Roger says to Aunt Olivia, “If a girl of fourteen can make a couple of practical farmers and a pair of matter-of-fact housewives half believe for ten minutes that she really is a snake, what won’t she be able to do when she is thirty?” (Chapter 23). This week we celebrate those who were inspired by Montgomery’s characters at a young age and went on to adapt and perform her characters and scenes from her life story for film and stage: Glenda Landry, Marilyn Lightstone, and Marion Abbott.


A tribute from Glenda Landry (Diana Barry):

I grew up in Avonlea. 

You might say Avonlea is not really a place on PEI... L.M. Montgomery just invented that name for her fictional novel Anne of Green Gables. Again, I will tell you, I certainly did grow up in Avonlea!

My story began when I was asked to audition for the role of Diana Barry in the Charlottetown Festivals production of Anne of Green Gables when I was only 17 years old. I was successful in winning the role and performed that particular role for 22 years. I then went on to do other roles within the show completing my 50-year career in Avonlea performing the role of Rachel Lynde.

Each one of the characters I played was helped along immensely by Montgomery’s beautiful descriptions in her book. You have only to open the book and read the first page to fall instantly in love.

During my years in Avonlea, I was a teenager, a new bride, a young mother, a mother of young adults and a grandmother.

So, you see, I did grow up in Avonlea... and it was a pleasure.

Thank you, L.M. Montgomery.

Glenda Landry owes her 55-year stage career to L.M. Montgomery. She received the hard-covered novel after she had been cast in the role of Diana Barry at an early age and faithfully read it cover to cover every year. This year marks the final year of that career as she looks on her years in Avonlea fondly, hoping to one day hear again the voices from the past. Hauntingly beautiful, the opening song “Anne of Green Gables, never change / We like you just this way” was sung every night while she held the hands of her beloved Anne Shirley.


A tribute from Marilyn Lightstone (Miss Stacey):

My personal ‘Anne’ journey began at the age of ten and was perhaps the first time I fibbed to my beloved mother. My habit was to take several books out of our school library each Friday, to be returned on the Monday, but – in this case – I hadn’t been able to finish Anne of Green Gables by Monday morning, so I pretended to have a cough and a sore throat. Shame on me!

To have been involved in Kevin Sullivan’s series is a continual delight. I particularly enjoy the emails I receive from viewers in Iran and Poland with clips of our beloved tale coming out of our mouths, beautifully dubbed. I was especially touched by a young Polish viewer who had just learned that our story was fiction and not reality and was dismayed. Occasionally, I receive messages from teachers who tell me that they were inspired to join the profession because of Miss Stacey and that gives me particular pleasure!

Marilyn Lightstone is a celebrated Canadian artist and one of the finest voice actors of her generation. A veteran of stage and screen, a novelist, and visual artist, Marilyn is currently the host and producer of Your All-Time Classic Hit Parade on VisionTV, the host of Nocturne nightly on The New Classical FM, and the creator of her popular podcast Marilyn Lightstone Reads, her series of expressive readings of some of the most famous novels in English Literature.


A tribute from Marion Abbott (theatre creator):

It’s hard to remember a time when Lucy Maud Montgomery wasn’t a powerful influence in my life. As a child, I read all of her novels countless times. As a teen, I read her journals and sobbed when Frede died. As a young dramatist, I adapted her words for the stage, and as a seasoned theatre creator, I wrote my first musical about her life. I have felt her presence on a number of occasions – in a park in PEI, in the hall in Norval, in her bedroom at the Leaskdale Manse, and outside her home in Toronto. And every time, I marvelled at how her life and talent were so extraordinary that they couldn’t possibly be confined by such small details as death. I am so grateful to continue being affected and inspired by her work, her life, and her daring to share both with generations of readers.

Marion Abbott is a writer-director-producer who has created multiple plays based on Maud's writing, including Anne and Maud and A Kindred Spirit Christmas. Marion recently finished writing Upward Climb: The Musical, about Montgomery’s the life. Marion is a voracious reader whose favourite Maud novels are Blue Castle and Anne of the Island. www.marionabbott.com


Next week we celebrate International Children’s Book Day with tributes about how Montgomery continues to inspire a love of reading.