Netflix's Anne With An E: Everything You Need To Know About Anne Shirley

Anne of Green Gables is a story that has been around since 1908. Originally written by Lucy Maud Montgomery, the story of Anne Shirley has been redone numerous times throughout the years. From movies to musicals, Anne’s story is one that never gets old. Netflix has jumped on that bandwagon with Anne with an E, a series focused on the original Anne of Green Gables story, while adding a bit of their own flair to it as well.

With Anne Shirley being such a well-known character, not a lot needs to be said about her. Anne makes her way to Prince Edward Island when she is eleven years old. Full of energy and a desire for a better life, Anne goes through a series of setbacks and challenges as she makes her way at her new home. Netflix has promised this version of Anne of Green Gables will be a darker, less idealistic type of story. While no one is completely sure what Netflix will be keeping from the original story and what they will be cutting, there are certain aspects of Anne Shirley that would be atrocious to get rid of.

Anne Shirley is a compelling character that audiences have loved for over a hundred years, and understanding her is critical to appreciating the Netflix series. Before you watch the series, here are 15 Things You Need To Know About Anne Shirley.

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15 Orphan Anne

Anne is an orphan that has been passed around from family to family, but she has also seen what life in an orphanage is like. Until she was nine, Anne lived with a woman, Mrs. Thomas. Anne knew Mrs. Thomas because she did household chores for Anne’s family at their house, until an train accident tore the family apart. It certainly wasn’t a happy story, and it caused a lot of uncertainty for Anne.

Anne was sent to live with a family who had three sets of twins, plus two other kids. Anne was in no way treated the same as all the other children. She was more of a servant than anything else. It wasn’t until the father of that family passed away that Anne was sent to an orphanage. From there, she was sent to Green Gables, a farm on Prince Edward Island.

14 Teachers for Parents

Anne Shirley on a Bench

Walter Shirley's wife, Bertha, gave birth to Anne in Bolingbroke, Nova Scotia. Anne was the only child of Bertha and Walter before their untimely death when Anne was only three months old. The two were teachers who had met at school. They were both madly in love with each other and worried a lot about Anne in the first few months after she was born.

After Anne was born, Bertha and Walter came down with severe fevers. This led to their ultimate demise, setting forth Anne’s predicament of needing a home. Anne was the first and only born child of Bertha and Walter with no other family she could go to for reassurance or comfort. Anne became an orphan and never truly knew who her parents were.

13 The Taste of Ice Cream

A lot of hardships came along with being an orphan. There’s a good chance that Netflix will play hard on the heart strings of viewers everywhere by showing how hard Anne’s life was before and at the island. Anne had been put to work from a young age and never truly had the chance to just be a kid. She goes through problems that not even most adults have to tackle, let alone kids.

One of the major plot points that has become famous is Anne’s desire to taste ice cream. Canada’s longest running musical is in fact Anne of Green Gables: The Musical. There’s a song within the musical that is specifically dedicated to Anne’s desire for ice cream. While the idea of the young orphan wanting ice cream is sweet to think about, it also shows what this girl has been missing out on in her life. The lack of goodness in her world shaped Anne into becoming the desperate orphan who made her way to Green Gables.

12 Boy Vs. Girl

For the time period that Anne is supposed to represent, boys were more prized than girls. The late nineteenth century wasn’t a great time for forward thinking, independent girls and women to say the least. When Anne first makes her way to Prince Edward Island, she is to be taken in by Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert. Marilla and Matthew weren’t married; ather, they were brother and sister with Marilla being the loudest voice out of the two.

The brother and sister needed help on their farm, so they were going to take in a boy to help out with the chores. They were surprised to find out that a mistake had happened when over-talkative Anne showed up on their doorstep. Marilla tells Anne not to worry and that the mistake will be fixed. They valued a boy more than a girl, but Anne didn’t think that was a fair thing to do. Marilla kept insisting though that she needed a boy and went to have the mistake fixed.

11 Vivid Imagination

Anne made her world way more exciting than it actually was. It might have been a side effect of having not had a true family and being an orphan, but the girl was more imaginative than everyone else she knew. Not only was Anne interested in her future and what a better life for herself might look like, but she also enjoyed making up other stories that weren’t just about her life.

The loneliness got to Anne and being an imaginative person helped her through it. Not having many friends or loved ones is something that haunted her for a long time. Her imagination made Green Gables seem more beautiful than it probably actually was. When she lived with the family that had all the kids, she was treated like a second-class citizen. She got to see what love and friendship was, but not actually feel it herself. It only makes sense that she would find a coping system for her loneliness.

10 Vocal and Outspoken

Anne is outspoken and tells it like it is. Telling it like it is sometimes ends up being more of Anne just emotionally telling you how she feels something. Having grown up with no parents, Anne didn’t have anyone ever speak for her. She ended up adapting this type of idea that if she saw some sort of injustice or something else that she didn’t approve of, it was important to let you know.

Back in the late nineteenth century, yelling that girls should be valued just as much as boys wasn’t a normal thing to do. Telling an adult that they are being rude when you’re only a kid also wasn’t a normal thing a young girl was supposed to do. Yet, Anne is not a normal kid. If she’s mad, sad, happy, or neutral, she’ll be sure to tell you. She stands up for herself and isn’t afraid to speak her mind.

9 The Orphan’s Resume

Back when empathy wasn’t enough to do something good, an orphan needed a verbal explanation on why he or she was worth the adoption. Anne wasn’t short of ideas for her resume. While living with the woman who specialized in cleaning, Anne’s strong point didn’t develop until she moved in with the family that had eight kids. Having lived with the family of young children, Anne knew that it was a good thing to have childcare on her resume.

Anne spoke all the time about how she’s good with kids. It’s crazy to hear an eleven-year-old speaking on her experience of taking care of children, but that was Anne’s life. Anne Shirley not only knows basic childcare rules, but she knows what to do in an emergency situation. Her experience actually helps her out a few times, so that’s something to say at least.

8 A Bit Overdramatic

Anne is way overdramatic, but it makes her just that much more charming. It probably has to do with the fact that nothing in her life has gone her way, but the girl can be downright too much to handle sometimes. The big issues make sense to fret over, but there are times where Anne frets about everything, issues that are big and small.

There are moments where Anne is just too much. From her response to not thinking she’s pretty enough, to wanting to change her name to something more dramatic, Anne feels feelings greatly. Sometime her overdramatic ways work in her favor because she ends up putting a few different people in their place. Just don’t expect Anne Shirley to cool it down anytime soon.

7 The Original Timeline

In the books, Anne’s story goes from the time she was an orphan mistake to being a grandmother. It’s an inspiring story of a feisty young girl who gets everything she wants in life. Mind you, everything she wants includes being beautiful and having a big family. Essentially, all she wanted to have what so many others took for granted.

With Netflix using a former Breaking Bad writer and producer as one of their leaders, they’re trying to angle Anne’s story in a more dramatic, darker direction. Rather than see her as the happy grandmother whose story didn’t begin until she made her way to Prince Edward Island, Netflix wants this version of Anne’s story to be more real. The series will highlight the struggles that Anne Shirley goes through and the ramifications of her orphaned past. How far they go is still up in the air, but a happily ever after isn’t something that dramas these days seem to have any more to say the least.

6 The Role of Faith

With this being a story written in the early 1900’s, going to church was a normal aspect to include in Anne’s story. Not only that, but Anne’s is excited about going to church. She gets dressed up, enjoys her walk there, and likes being part of something. It’s what so many others want from a community, especially back then.

Anne goes to church regularly and is a Presbyterian. It gave her great appeal back in the day, but now the effect isn’t the same as it once was. At best, her being mildly religious is trivial at best. It doesn’t really add much to her story, nor does it take things away from it either. Anne just goes to church and while being religious us part of her, it’s not all of who she is as a person.

5 Seeking Acceptance

You can compare Anne to a lost puppy. When she first made her way to Prince Edward Island, she was filled with hope and excitement. Everything was beautiful to her on the island, especially Green Gables, the farm. Like a lost puppy, Anne didn’t care who her family was going to be; she just wanted a family, uncaring as to what their background might have been all about.

Anne just wanted to be accepted and loved, which is why she adapts quickly to her new family on Prince Edward Island. She does what she needs to do to earn her place on the farm. Having felt alone almost her entire life, Anne desperately desired acceptance and she wasn’t too picky as to how she got it when she first arrived to the island.

4 Anne’s Signature Look

While former films might have shown Anne in a different way, Anne has always been traditionally represented as she was in the book series. In the series, Anne has red hair that is usually separated into two tied braids. She has dark, distinctive freckles. Anne also has large, green/gray eyes that are pretty distinctive.

The way Anne looks is a major aspect in the book series. Anne is supposed to look different than everyone else around her on Prince Edward Island. She not only stands out as the orphaned girl, but she stands out as the red haired freckled girl. It’s representative of the person she is on the inside. While other films might have depicted Anne differently, this is how Anne is supposed to look so it’s a good thing Netflix had her appear this way in the upcoming series.

3 The Best Friend

Anne’s best friend is Diana Barry, someone who Anne meets on Prince Edward Island. Diana is very much a plain type of girl. She finds Anne’s stories incredible and looks up to her friend. While Diana’s mom thinks that Anne is a little bit out there, Diana knows that there’s something special about Anne.

Anne has more potential than her friend. Diana is the normal to Anne’s quirkiness. It makes her a good option for that quintessential forgettable best friend type of character. It’s obvious from the beginning that Anne would go on to do bigger and better things than her best friend, though the two don’t really compare themselves to each other. They treat each other as friends should. Plus, Anne calls Diana her “bosom friend,” which is just fantastic.

2 Gilbert's Crush

Gilbert in Anne

Gilbert Blythe has a crush on Anne, but Anne can’t stand him. He’s an example of the whole “if he makes fun of you, he likes you,” type of thing. Gilbert picks on Anne all of the time and even nicknames her “Carrots” due to her red hair.

The best part about all of this isn’t Gilbert being a jerk to Anne because he has a crush on her. What’s great is how Anne stands up to Gilbert all of the time. Sometimes, she takes it way too far. At the same time though, there’s something wonderful about how Anne takes matters into her own hands. Gilbert has a crush on a strong girl, while Anne makes girls everywhere feel like they can stand up for themselves just like she does.

1 Anne with an E

Anne thinks her name is incredibly boring. When she was younger, she wished for her name to be something different and more extravagant. She liked the names Geraldine and Cordelia. When she introduces herself, she tells people adding the “e” to her name makes it look better. She thinks way too much into it, so she gets super defensive if you spell her name without the “e” added on.

Making a deal with her new family, Anne says she’ll deal with the name Anne as long as the “e” can be included. This causes some trouble later on as certain people try to leave out the “e” just to upset her. This is why Netflix decided to retitle the show from Anne to Anne with an E. It’s a much more fitting title for Anne Shirley’s story.


Anne with an E will make its debut on Netflix on May 12th, 2017.

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