Maud’s Darkening Gables

How the world wars shaped L.M. Montgomery’s character—and characters

War is not a topic generally associated with L.M. Montgomery, best known as an author of entertaining stories whose conflicts and sorrows usually resolve cheerfully. But Montgomery well knew that happy endings belong to the realm of romance rather than reality. As her own difficult life unfolded, from her birth in 1874 until her death in 1942, the author of Anne of Green Gables (first published in 1908) was keenly aware that she was living through an era of unprecedented conflict and change. On January 24, 1932, at the height of the Great Depression, she wrote in her journal, “I read recently a statement to the effect that a man or woman who was born in 1830 and died in 1913 would have lived his entire life in what was the happiest period of the world’s entire history to date. True! … And my generation! What have we not seen? Everything we once thought immoveable wrenched from its pedestal and hurled to...