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Anne of Green Gables -- and suicide

The story of spunky Anne of Green Gables has been cherished for decades -- this actually is the book's 100th year. And though much has been written about the hard life and mental anguish of author Lucy Maud Montgomery, I bet most people have been stunned by the news that she committed suicide.

As part of a look at mental health, the author's grand-daughter told Canada's Globe and Mail about the family's "troubling secret." Kate Macdonald Butler said, "Despite her great success, it is known that she suffered from depression, that she was isolated, sad and filled with worry and dread for much of her life. But our family has never spoken publicly about the extent of her illness. What has never been revealed is that L.M. Montgomery took her own life at the age of 67 through a drug overdose.

Such sad endings are not uncommon. David Foster Wallace (

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Infinite Jest

) and Thomas M. Disch

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(The Brave Little Toaster

) died by suicide this year.

And a darkness was evident in Montgomery's writings, some argue. As Margaret Atwood wrote "... if Anne were nothing but a soufflé of happy thoughts and outcomes, the Annery would have collapsed long ago. The thing that distinguishes Anne from so many "girls' books" of the first half of the 20th century is its dark underside: this is what gives Anne its frenetic, sometimes quasi-hallucinatory energy, and what makes its heroine's idealism and indignation so poignantly convincing."

Few suspected that Montgomery's own life was so dark.

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