Do we demand perfection in famous women in history? Or can we accept that they struggle like we do?
Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of the classic Anne of Green Gables, is one of those people who is easy to idealized. Her character Anne loves nature, has a vivid imagination, and is driven to excel. Anne also has a tender heart. Perhaps that’s why we love the series so much.
No support by her men
Montgomery’s life was not as simple. A disciplined and prolific writer, she was involved romantically with men who were indifferent to her talent.
She was initially engaged to Edwin Simpson, who disregarded her writing. During her engagement to Simpson, she fell in love with Herman Leard, the son of the family with whom she boarded. He told her she was too ambitious. Fearing that he was not her intellectual equal, she broke off the relationship.
A disappointing marriage
After having success with her first two Anne novels, she married Reverend Ewan McDonald, a man she respected but did not love. He was jealous of her success. He insisted during their engagement that she stop writing a month, because he worried about her headaches and mental stress, even though writing made her feel better.
She juggled writing while filling the role of minister’s wife. McDonald was also not an ideal husband and had mental breakdowns. He treated his depression with prescription medicines.
Her own struggles
Montgomery herself struggled with depression. Her granddaughter, in 2008, on the 100th anniversary of the publishing of Anne of Green Gables, revealed a family secret.
For years, it was said that Montgomery died of heart failure in 1942. The family believes she committed suicide through a drug overdose.
“I envy those who die in their sleep,” Montgomery once wrote her pen pal. “I have a horrible fear that I’ll die by inches.”
Does the manner of her death change how I think of her? No. “Die by inches.” I understand that.