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Original, handwritten Anne of Green Gables manuscript released online

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The original manuscript for Anne of Green Gables is now publicly available online, in its entirety, for the first time ever.

Digitized scans of the book went live at noon Thursday.

The manuscript is one of the most important artifacts from author Lucy Maud Montgomery’s life.

Until now, it spent most of its time in a climate-controlled archive at the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown, usually only accessible to the most dedicated researchers.

Now, it’s open to anyone with an internet connection.

“So many people want to see it. I mean, Anne has fans and scholars the world over and I know only a handful have gotten to spend any time with the pages, and so I think getting it all out there accessible to those fans, scholars, teachers, I can imagine using it in the classroom,” said exhibit curator Emily Woster. “It’s just a really great resource.”

The pages include notes about the story, development of iconic scenes, and details about characters, which informed the book.

Montgomery and her Anne series is still popular around the world, 115 years after it was released. Now it's even more accessible.

“So, what the digitization does is make this manuscript, all of a sudden, available fully to anybody, anywhere in the world,” said Philip Smith, UPEI L. M. Montgomery Institute chair.

The delicate manuscript is written on paper well over a century old. Its age had, up to this point, required very careful controls over anyone working with the pages.

“There’s that opportunity to really maximize access without any kind of risk to the document,” said Smith. “Providing another means through which it’s persevered, literally, for decades and centuries.”

The project recorded 1,142 pages, many written on pieces of scrap paper with notes and passages from other stories scribbled on the back, simply crossed out and reused.

Woster said it also gives a rare insight into the author’s creative process.

“A lot of people talk about what they love about Anne is her humour and her joy, and all of those things,” said Woster. “When you see it in the manuscript, you can see how that was built, and how Montgomery had a really clear sense of who Anne was from the beginning.”

Woster said it’s a record of one of the most important moments in Canadian literary history.

While the original pages stay safe in the archives at the Confederation Centre of the Arts, you can now go to annemanuscript.ca and read them all from the comfort of your own home.

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