Anne of Green Gables Charged Men by the Hour for “Kindred Spirit” in Later Years
AVONLEA, PEI — Anne Shirley of Green Gables did not spend all her life as a rural schoolteacher, according to new information that recently surfaced in Prince Edward Island.
She had another profession — a very old one.
Thomas Lynde of Avonlea, who today lives down the road from Green Gables, said he discovered a cache of old documents while clearing out an attic in the house his family has occupied since mid-Victorian times.
“They consist of diaries kept by my great-great aunt, Rachel,” he told reporters. “They make it quite clear that Green Gables was put to a very different use after Anne’s adoptive parents, Mathew and Marilla, died. It seems Anne couldn’t keep the farm going and she ran into serious money troubles.
“She turned the place into a whorehouse.”
Lynde explained that his 19th Century relative was well known in the community as the local busybody and gossip. “Nothing went on in Avonlea that Great Aunt Rachel didn’t know about,” he said. “Mind you, she was a Victorian lady and didn’t always understand. For instance, when the fishermen talked about having a ‘good blow’, she thought they were talking about the weather.”
Anne’s establishment served its clients with hot drinks and warm snacks. In one of her early diary entries, Rachel Lynde noted a sign on Anne’s front lawn “Tea and Crumpet.” “What a tasteful, genteel name,” she wrote. But later entries suggested she had wised up to the kind of crumpet Anne was peddling.
It seems that the prim ladies of Avonlea regularly gathered in the afternoon to drink Darjeeling tea, gossip and use crochet hooks to make handicraft materials such as tablecloths and serviettes. It’s unclear whether they ever realized that another kind of hooking was going on at Green Gables.
Anne Shirley was the subject of a popular biography by an Island-born writer, Lucy Maud Montgomery, which was translated into 36 languages. However, Montgomery chose to portray her as an innocent, Pollyanna-like character. She made no mention of Anne’s business ventures.
So there was really no truth in the Mongomery version? “Very little,” Thomas Lynde told The Lapine. “It was just plain fiction.”
A statement from the PEI Premier’s office said Green Gables will remain a tourist attraction. Asked by email whether the house will offer an experience to mirror the true lifestyle of Anne Shirley, the spokesperson was enigmatic. “Seafarers in the island are already being well serviced,” she said.
Reportering for The Lapine