It’s been all over Twitter, and not in a good way. A new edition of L.M. Montgomery’s beloved “Anne of Green Gables” is available on Amazon, and Anne Shirley — the skinny 10-year-old redheaded orphan with the luminous gray eyes — was portrayed on the cover as a voluptuous blonde, leaning suggestively against a bale of hay.
After several days of incensed tweets, blog posts and Facebook updates, the offending cover was quietly removed.
Anne’s loyal fans, which are legion, were outraged. Word of the new edition started out as big news in Canada (Anne lived on Prince Edward Island, which is where Montgomery was born) and, thanks to social media, spread fast.
“It’s kind of absurd, but it’s what our social media does — it fans the flames of passion, and people are passionate about this,” said Beth Cavert of Minnetonka, a Montgomery scholar who is working on two books about the author’s work. “It’s as if they took the flag of Canada and turned the red maple leaf polka-dotted.
“People just take this character to heart, and they love her. It’s really offensive to demean a good character like this.”
Red hair was part of Anne’s identity, except for the day when she accidentally dyed it green. (She had been hoping for raven-black tresses.) And it wasn’t just the hair color that was wrong — it was the model’s clothing, age and demeanor, Cavert said.
“Anne of Green Gables” was first published in 1908. The copyright expired in 1993 and the books moved into public domain. The identity of the person behind the new edition is unknown; it is available through Amazon’s self-publishing arm.
As one person said on Twitter: “Montgomery is turning in her grave. And hopefully returning as a zombie to avenge redheads everywhere.”
Oh, man, Anne of Green Gables and zombies! Another supremely bad idea. □