Writing in the Kitchen:
Elizabeth R. Epperly
L.M. Montgomery began to write Anne of Green Gables in the Macneill kitchen, in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island, in June of 1905. 1
Montgomery’s grandparents’ kitchen was much more than a place to prepare meals or keep warm in winter. It was also the local post office, vital for news and gossip and an ideal place for a writer to absorb community life. In charge of the mailbag, Montgomery had been able to send out for publication—secretly—hundreds of short stories and poems.
Montgomery vividly recalled writing the opening of her famous novel; it was the same evening the Rev. Ewan Macdonald stopped in for his mail (beginning their courtship):
I remember well the very evening I wrote the opening paragraph of Green Gables. It was a moist, showery, sweet-scented evening in June ten years ago. I was sitting on the end of the table, in the old kitchen, my feet on the sofa, beside the west window, because I wanted to get the last gleams of daylight on my portfolio. I did not for a moment dream that the book I had just begun was to bring me the fame and success I had long dreamed of. So I wrote, [sic] the opening paragraphs quite easily, not feeling obliged to “write up” to any particular reputation or style. Just as I had finished my description of Mrs. Lynde and her home Ewan walked in. (April 18, 1914, CJ: Ontario Years, 156).
Excited to have the long “brooding up” and outlining process behind her, Montgomery enjoyed drafting the full story from her detailed notes.
The upwards-slanting, confident movement of the handwriting on the opening page of the manuscript reflects Montgomery’s happiness in finally writing out the story she had been preparing for months to tell.
Montgomery preserved only one picture of the interior of the kitchen. To take it, she probably stood in the corner of the room where the western wall met the main house wall, very close to the spot where she began to write Anne of Green Gables.
Kitchen building today, with the Eastern side showing.