Anne of Green Gables is big business
One hundred years ago, Anne of Green Gables introduced readers to one of the most enduring characters in fiction and launched Canada's most lucrative literary franchise. The heartwarming story of the plucky red-headed orphan has gone on to sell hundreds of millions of copies and become the basis for an unprecedented television phenomenon. But behind the fictional and feisty Anne Shirley lurked the often-tormented life of author Lucy Maud Montgomery. CBC Archives takes a look at the life, death and lasting legacy of the woman who created Anne.
This CBC Radio clip explores the reaction from islanders as Montgomery's surviving family tries to crack down on unofficial Green Gables goods.
• The first person to inform them of this was Kevin Sullivan, who discovered the contract during his research for the miniseries.
• The tourism boom that came in the wake of the 1985 Green Gables series also spawned hundreds of entrepreneurs hoping to cash in on the souvenir business. Everything from china dolls to ashtrays and other trinkets where manufactured by Islanders and foreign businesses.
• In the summer of 1988, concern over the flood of products led Tom McMillan, a Tory MP from P.E.I., to worry aloud that Anne of Green Gables was in danger of becoming "prostitute-ish."
• Montgomery's great-grandchildren, Ruth Macdonald and David Macdonald, sent out letters to businesses producing Green Gables products saying that they intended to register likenesses of Anne Shirley and the Green Gables name.
• The news upset many Islanders who claimed the character was part of P.E.I.'s culture, and people living there should be allowed to continue making Anne souvenirs freely.
• A few years after this clip, Montgomery's heirs and the provincial government teamed up and registered the term "Anne of Green Gables" as an official trademark. In the decade since, they have controlled all official likenesses of Anne Shirley through the Anne of Green Gables Licensing Authority Inc., a.k.a. the Anne Authority.
• Producers of Anne-related products outside of P.E.I. have to register and pay royalties to the Anne Authority, which are then divided between the heirs and the province.
• Island residents have to have their products approved by the authority, but are exempted from paying royalties.
• As of 2005 there were 110 companies licensed to use the name and/or image of the fictional Anne Shirley on everything from paper dolls, hats and music boxes to ashtrays, chocolates and chips. You can even buy replicas of Anne Shirley's fictional wedding dress.
• Sullivan Entertainment has an online Studio Treasures boutique that sells set props, costumes, shoes and hats used during the filming of the television movies.
Program: Sunday Morning
Broadcast Date: Aug. 14, 1988
Guest(s): Norman Campbell, Tom McMillan, Kim McMillan, Jan Mullison
Host: Christopher Thomas
Reporter: George Emerson
Last updated: October 29, 2012
Page consulted on December 6, 2013
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At long last Montgomery gets married and moves to Ontario to begin her...
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A guided tour of the land that inspired Anne of Green Gables.
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Scholars and fans gather in P.E.I. for an international conference ded...
A look at Japan's 50-year obsession with all things Anne.
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Over 100 years ago, Anne of Green Gables introduced readers to one of ...