This week's revelation that Anne of Green Gables author Lucy Maud Montgomery killed herself in 1942 via a drug overdose is sad but on reflection not surprising. Her granddaughter, Kate Macdonald Butler, discusses in her Globe & Mail piece how LMM suffered from depression throughout her life, which one can see in her correspondence with G. B. MacMillan (collected in My Dear Mr. M) and in the long account in her journals where LMM was betrothed to another man prior to her marriage to Ewan Macdonald and felt trapped by this first engagement.
This year marks the centenary of the publication of Anne of Green Gables. According to CBC News, Mary Rubio's LMM biography (due out in November) will discuss the suicide and the note left by LMM.
LMM occupies one place in my personal triumvirate of authors (the other places are occupied by Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott) whose work was marked by a gallantry of spirit, a marvelous sense of humor, progressive heroines, and an acute perception about the people of their society that is reflected in their written work. It can be 1813, 1868, or 1908, but we still know people like Mrs. Bennet, Aunt March, and Rachel Lynde. LMM's novel The Blue Castle (1926), in which the downtrodden heroine is informed that she has a limited time to live due to a medical condition, decides to seize the day, and thereby scandalizes her proper and dull relations, is full of liveliness and wisdom that still speaks to us today.