4 ways 2017 was the year of Anne of Green Gables

More than a century after the first publication of Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, the spunky, red-headed girl from Prince Edward Island captured the imaginations of people all over the world once again in 2017.

A hit on film, stage and in the bookstores

Anne with an E was one of the most binge-watched series on Netflix last year. (AnnetheSeries/Facebook)

More than a century after the first publication of Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, the spunky, red-headed girl from Prince Edward Island captured the imaginations of people all over the world once again in 2017.

A worldwide binge fest

Finally following up on Megan Follows's act that couldn't be followed in the CBC's 1985 miniseries, Anne returned to the small screen courtesy of PBS in 2016. PBS saw enough success with that movie version to launch Part 2, The Good Stars, in November.

But by then there was a new Anne in town. CBC and Netflix partnered on a new miniseries, known as Anne in Canada and Anne with an E on Netflix everywhere else. Anticipation for the launch included a Vanity Fair article in May about why the 1985 miniseries was such a standard.

And Anne delivered once more: Anne with an E was the fourth most binge-watched series on Netflix in 2017, coming in ahead of Riverdale.

New editions

Anne of Green Gables was first published in 1908, and dozens of new editions of the book come out every year.

But 2017 could be seen as something of a special year, because it included both a new Penguin edition, and a new Puffin Classics edition in partnership with London's V&A Museum.

A new Penguin edition came out in November. (Penguin Classics)

In the foreword to the Penguin edition, novelist J. Courtney Sullivan reminisced about the first copy of Anne of Green Gables that she owned.

"Between its flimsy covers existed a world that would enchant me for decades to come and a literary heroine to whom I'd relate more than any other," Sullivan wrote.

Community theatre boom

Samuel French, the company that manages the rights for Anne of Green Gables: The Musical, saw a 42 per cent increase in licensed productions this year in North America.

It was enough to make it one of the most popular musicals in its catalog.

A production shot from Oshawa Little Theatre's Anne of Green Gables: The Musical. (Oshawa Little Theatre)

A key ingredient in the community theatre boom was Canada's 150th anniversary, with a number of companies noting that Anne was the perfect musical to celebrate Canada's birthday with.

Anne on the Island

Anne also had a good year in her home province.

A revamped version of the musical at Confederation Centre was enormously successful, with ticket sales up 44 per cent.

Anne of Green Gables — The Musical was more popular than ever this summer, selling 44% more tickets than last year. (Louise Vessey)

Anne-related tourism was also showing strength.

"It's actually very hard for us to measure the exact impact that Anne has had on visitation, but there are a lot of great indicators if we look around at some of the statistics that we do have," said Brenda Gallant, director of marketing communications at the P.E.I. Department of Tourism.

That included a 35 per cent increase in visitation at Green Gables, the house that Montgomery based Anne's house on. Gallant said other operators of Anne-related attractions reported increases as well.

Visitation was up at Green Gables house this year. (Nancy Russell/CBC)

Gallant said the interest in Anne last year, and a general interest in literary tourism, bodes well for Anne tourism in the future.

"People do like to travel to places that they've read about in books and Lucy Maud Montgomery … really treated Prince Edward Island as a character in the book," Gallant said.

"Her descriptions are incredible. It's very enticing."

About the Author

Kevin Yarr

Kevin Yarr is the early morning web journalist at CBC P.E.I. You can reach him at kevin.yarr@cbc.ca.