October 8, 2015

Return to Green Gables: Favorite Secondary Characters

"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers", as Anne Shirley once said. And this October, more than any other, my heart is gladder than glad to be bringing you Return to Green Gables! Rachel of Hello Chelly, Hannah of So Obsessed With & I have been scheming about this event for ages, and it's such a thrill to finally be able to share it with all of you. Be sure to make the rounds on all three of our blogs for the rest of the week in order to see all our posts, each and every single one inspired by or tribute to the classic Anne of Green Gables.

One of the best things about this series is the wealth of secondary characters. Montgomery used choice words to really bring her characters alive off the page! Whether you love them ardently, revile them severely or treat them as passing ships in the night, it's a fact that they are incredibly well-written and undeniably memorable. Today, I'll be sharing a list of ten of my favorite secondary characters. It was hard to get it down to ten, but I took some liberties and managed it in the end! (And yes, that's just a nice way of saying I totally cheated as I made this list.)

"Marilla was a tall, thin woman, with angles and without curves; her dark hair showed some gray streaks and was always twisted up in a hard little knot behind with two wire hairpins stuck aggressively through it. She looked like a woman of narrow experience and rigid conscience, which she was; but there was a saving something about her mouth which, if it had been ever so slightly developed, might have been considered indicative of a sense of humor." - on Marilla, p.5, Anne of Green Gables

"... for he was an odd-looking personage, with an ungainly figure and long iron-gray hair that touched his stooping shoulders, and a full, soft brown beard which he had worn ever since he has twenty. In fact, he had looked at twenty very much as he looked at sixty, lacking a little of the grayness." - on Matthew, p.9, Anne of Green Gables

(1) Marilla + Matthew Cuthbert are the sister and brother tandem who bring Anne into the world of Green Gables and Avonlea. While they initially wanted a boy to help Matthew with the farm, it doesn't take much for Anne to win them over with her winsome personality and young vivacity. Matthew is quiet and gruff, content to live the life he's always known; he blossoms under Anne's attention and is quite attentive to her ramblings and desires. Marilla is serious and stern, an excellent manager of her household with set ways and behaviors to teach Anne; her heart is vulnerable underneath that exterior, and she's loving and quick to laugh in her way. 

"Diana was sitting on the sofa, reading a book which she dropped when the callers entered. She was a very pretty little girl, with her mother's black eyes and hair, and rosy cheeks, and the merry expression which was her inheritance from her father." - on Diana, p.86, Anne of Green Gables

(2) Diana Barry (Wright) is the "girl next door", with dark hair and eyes, and a curvy full figure. She's got a sweet personality, with room enough in her heart to be supportive and loyal through all things, and a sly sense of humor. Anne and Diana get along like a house on fire from their very first meeting, even though they're really quite different personalities. Their lifelong friendship is enduring, through long distances and time, through various stages of life, through things funny and happy and sad. It's lovely to see how, in spite of how their lives are always constantly changing, these two ladies are still such good friends. 

"He was a tall boy, with curly brown hair, roguish hazel eyes and a mouth twisted into a teasing smile." - on Gilbert, p.110, Anne of Green Gables

(3) Gilbert Blythe is a charming, intelligent lad, dark-haired and hazel-eyed. From the moment he first meets Anne, he immediately knows he wants her regard. But, as all boys tend to do, he goes about it in the wrong way - and succeeds in making an enemy out of her for years. Eventually, they resolve their differences and become fast friends. It's no surprise that they get along so well, with their matching wits and mutual admiration. And, it is obvious right that Gilbert loves Anne, but it takes her some time to come around. But she does eventually, and it is utter perfection to see these two together.

"... but Mrs. Rachel Lynde was one of those capable creatures who can manage their own concerns and those of other folks in the bargain." - on Mrs. Rachel Lynde, p.1, Anne of Green Gables

(4) Mrs. Rachel Lynde is first introduced as neighbor and friend to the Cuthberts, but she eventually becomes a part of Anne's "found family". She's the opinionated, matronly type, capable of managing her own household, even as she is aware of and involves herself in the affairs of others. While her forceful personality does take some time to get accustomed to, she's really an old dear and I can't imagine Anne's life without her (and her meddling, well-meaning ways) in it.

"The twins were not noticeably alike, although both were fair. Dora had long sleek curls that never got out of order. Davy had a crop of fuzzy little yellow ringlets all over his round head. Dora's hazel eyes were gentle and mild; Davy's were as roguish and dancing as an elf's. Dora's nose was straight, Davy's was a positive snub; Dora had a "prunes and prisms" mouth, Davy's was all smiles; and besides, he had a dimple in one cheek and none in the other, which gave him a dear, comical, lopsided look when he laughed. Mirth and mischief lurked in every corner of his little face." - on Davy and Dora, p.60, Anne of Avonlea

(5) Davy + Dora Keith are the twin children of a distant relative of the Cuthberts. They are welcomed into Green Gables wholeheartedly by Anne and Marilla, at first in a temporary situation but eventually as permanent fixtures. Dora is a well-behaved, polite little lady, who is proper and a rule follower. (In all honesty, she isn't particularly interesting.) It is Davy who my heart is particularly fond of, in spite of his mischievous nature and inquisitive personality. He gets into an awful lot of trouble, but his heart is in the right place and it shows.

"She knew Paul was ten but he looked no more than eight. He had the most beautiful little face she had ever seen in a child... features of exquisite delicacy and refinement, framed in a halo of chestnut curls. His mouth was delicious, being full without pouting, the crimson lips just softly touching and curving into finely finished little corners that narrowly escaped being dimpled. He had a sober, grave, meditative expression, as if his spirit was much older than his body;" - on Paul, p.33, Anne of Avonlea

"She was a little lady with snow-white hair beautifully wavy and thick, and carefully arranged in becoming puffs and coils. Beneath it was an almost girlish face, pink cheeked and sweet lipped, with big soft brown eyes and dimples... actually dimples." - on Miss Lavendar, p.186, Anne of Avonlea

(6) Paul Irving + Miss Lavendar Lewis are "kindred spirits" to Anne, two individuals whom she gets along with straightaway. Paul is one of her students when she teaches at the Avonlea school, with a mind that's as brilliant and filled with whimsy as hers is. They understand each other on a "soul" level, and that makes for a brilliant, darling relationship between them. And Miss Lavendar possesses this same spirit of whimsy and youth, in spite of her middling age. She lives in the beautiful, solitary Echo Lodge, and has quite a lovely story of her own.

"I like the look of that girl with the brown eyes and the crimson waist. She looks vivid and red-rosy; there's that pale, fair one gazing out of the window. She has lovely hair, and looks as if she knew a thing or two about dreams." - on Stella and Priscilla, p.278, Anne of Green Gables

"She was certainly very pretty, with a vivid, irregular, bewitching type of prettiness. There was a gloss as of brown nuts on her satin-smooth hair and a soft, ripe glow on her round cheeks. Her eyes were big and brown and velvety, under oddly-pointed black brows, and her crooked mouth was rose-red." - on Philippa, p.27, Anne of the Island

"Aunt Jamesina was a tiny old woman with a little, softly-triangular face, and large, soft blue eyes that were alight with unquenchable youth, and as full of hopes as a girl's. She had pink cheeks and snow-white hair which she wore in quaint little puffs over her ears." - on Aunt Jamesina, p.122, Anne of the Island

(7) Priscilla Grant, Stella Maynard, Philippa Gordon + Aunt Jamesina are Anne's beloved housemates at Patty's Place during her years at Redmond College. Priscilla and Stella are friends she made at Queens College, Philippa is the gal she and Priscilla befriend on their first day at college and Stella's Aunt Jamesina becomes their housekeeper. Their household seemed well-oiled, full of gay nights by the fire, homey personalities and just a lovely familial dynamic between them all.

"Aunt Kate was tall and thin and gray, and a little austere... Marilla's type exactly; and Aunt Chatt was short and thin and gray, and a little wistful. She may have been very pretty once but nothing is now left of her beauty except her eyes. They are lovely... soft and big and brown." - on Aunt Kate and Aunt Chatty, p.9-10, Anne of Windy Poplars

"Rebecca Dew is 'around forty' and if a tomato had black hair racing away from its forehead, little twinkling black eyes, a tiny nose with a knobby end and a slit of a mouth, it would look exactly like her. Everything about her is a little too short... arms and legs and neck and nose... everything but her smile. It is long enough to reach from ear to ear." - on Rebecca Dew, p.9, Anne of Windy Poplars

"She isn't pretty but she might make more of herself. She is dark and swarthy, with magnificent black hair always dragged back from her high forehead and coiled in a clumsy knot at the base of her neck. Her eyes don't match her hair, being a clear, light amber under her black brows. She has ears she needn't be ashamed to show and the most beautiful hands I've ever seen. Also, she has a well-cut mouth. But she dresses terribly." - on Katherine, p.29, Anne of Windy Poplars

"MShe is small, pale, golden and wistful. Her eyes, looking at me through the autumn twilight, are large and golden-hazel. Her silver-gold hair was parted in the middle, sleeked plainly down over her head with a circular comb, and fell in waves on her shoulders. She wore a pale blue gingham dress and the expression of a princess of elf-land." - on Elizabeth, p.30, Anne of Windy Poplars

(8) Aunt Kate, Aunt Chatty, Rebecca Dew, Katherine Brooke + Elizabeth Grayson become Anne's family while she spends three years as principal at Summerside High in Windy Poplars. She boards with the aunts and Rebecca Dew, who have their own unique way of interaction and management but who find themselves charmed by Anne. Katherine is Anne's vice-principal, who is initially cold and reserved; eventually, she and Anne manage to become quite good chums. And then, there is Elizabeth, who has the lovely spirit and wild imaginings that always draw Anne in.

"She was hatless, but heavy braids of burnished hair, the hue of ripe wheat, were twisted about her head like a coronet; her eyes were blue and star-like; her figure, in its plain print gown, was magnificent; and her lips were as crimson as the bunch of blood-red poppies she wore at her belt." - on Leslie, p.24, Anne's House of Dreams

"He had a tall, rather ungainly figure, somewhat stooped, yet suggestive of great strength and endurance; a clean-shaven face deeply lined and bronzed; a thick mane of iron-gray hair falling quite to his shoulders, and a pair of remarkably blue, deep-set eyes, which sometimes twinkled and sometimes dreamed, and sometimes looked out seaward with a wistful quest in them, as of one seeking something precious and lost." - on Captain Jim, p.27, Anne's House of Dreams

"She had a fresh, round, pink-and-white face, and jolly brown eyes. She did not look in the least like the traditional old maid, and there was something in her expression which won Anne instantly." - on Miss Cornelia, p.43, Anne's House of Dreams

"... a grim-faced, kind-hearted elderly spinster of the glen, who had been installed as maid-of-all-work at the little house for some weeks." - on Susan, p.113, Anne's House of Dreams

(9) Leslie Moore, Captain Jim, Miss Cornelia + Susan Baker are the ones who populate Anne's first few years of marriage, living in her house of dreams. Captain Jim is good-natured and thoughtful, with a history of strange and wonderful adventures from his years at sea. Miss Cornelia is quite alike to Mrs. Rachel Lynde in character, what with her sense of propriety and her oft-voiced opinions. Susan is the hired lady who comes to help Anne with the housework and the children. And Leslie, well, poor Leslie is a beautiful young woman with a tragic history. It takes time, but eventually she and Anne become close friends too.

"He had curly red hair, like his mother's, and frank hazel eyes, like his father's; he had his mother's fine nose and his father's steady humorous mouth. And he was the only one of the family who had ears nice enough to please Susan." - on Jem, p.16, Rainbow Valley

"He was the handsomest of the Ingleside children, with straight black hair and finely modelled features. But he had all his mother's vivid imagination and passionate love of beauty." - on Walter, p.17, Rainbow Valley

"Anne, who was always called Nan, was very pretty, with velvety nut-brown eyes and silky nut-brown hair. She was a very blithe and dainty little maiden - Blythe by name and blithe by nature, one of her teachers had said. Her complexion was quite faultless, much to her mother's satisfaction." - on Nan, p.18, Rainbow Valley

"Diana Blythe, known as Di, was very like her mother, with gray-green eyes that always shone with a peculiar lustre and brilliancy in the dusk, and red hair." - on Di, p.18, Rainbow Valley

"He was brown-haired, brown-eyed and brown-skinned, with very rosy cheeks, and he was Susan's especial love." - on Shirley, p.2, Rainbow Valley

"She had great, dreamy, hazel eyes, a milky skin dappled with little golden freckles, and delicately arched eyebrows, giving her a demure, questioning look which made people, especially lads in their teens, want to answer it. Her hair was a ripely, ruddily brown and a little dent in her upper lip looked as if some good fairy had pressed it in with her finger at Rilla's christening." - on Rilla, p. 12, Rilla of Ingleside

(10) Jem, Walter, Nan, Di, Shirley + Rilla are the Blythe children, a rambunctious lot of little personalities who are the heart and soul of Anne and Gilbert's household. Jem is the investigator of the crew, always studying and observing the world around him. Walter is certainly Anne's child, caught up in vivid musings as his mother always was. Nan and Di are twins, but Nan is closer to Anne in nature (with her big imagination) and Di is much more like Gilbert (practical, with a sense of humor). Shirley is a solitary little guy, known as the "little brown boy" to most. And Rilla is the youngest, a romantic little lady who loves to have a good time.

And come back tomorrow - I'll be talking about visiting Prince Edward Island.


  1. I loved this series when I was younger, reading your posts gives me the urge to reread them.

  2. I love everything the Anne world. These books were such a huge part of my childhood! Oh, Gilbert.....

    Kate @ Ex Libris


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