Anne of Green Gables goes blonde, sparking red hair scare

New edition of LM Montgomery's classic tale sees the freckled heroine also acquire 'bedroom eyes'

Anne of Green Gables, the orphan with the "very thick, decidedly red hair" and the "much freckled" face, has become a blonde, buxom farm girl with come-hither eyes on a new edition of LM Montgomery's classic novel, prompting a fierce reaction from fans of the story.

The ire over Anne's transformation has reached such heights online that the edition now appears to have been withdrawn. Containing the first three "Anne" stories, Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea and Anne of The Island, it was self-published through Amazon's CreateSpace platform at the end of November, and its one-star reviews now number over 300.

"This book is supposed to be Anne Of Green Gables NOT Anne Does Green Gables! " wrote one reader. Another pointed out that "Anne has red hair. RED HAIR. It's a key part of her character and is a strong influence on her words and actions. Secondly, Anne is 10 at the start of the series. What is up with the bedroom eyes? Did they just do a Google image search for Sexy Farmgirl? Does anyone publishing this book have any idea of what the stories are actually about?" setting up a plea to "keep Anne ginger".

First published in 1908, Canadian author Montgomery's story of an orphan adopted by a brother and sister on Prince Edward Island was an instant hit. Expecting to pick up a boy who will help him on the farm, Matthew Cuthbert is shocked to discover a girl waiting for him instead. "She wore a faded brown sailor hat and beneath the hat, extending down her back, were two braids of very thick, decidedly red hair. Her face was small, white and thin, also much freckled; her mouth was large and so were her eyes, which looked green in some lights and moods and gray in others," writes Montgomery.

"So far, the ordinary observer; an extraordinary observer might have seen that the chin was very pointed and pronounced; that the big eyes were full of spirit and vivacity; that the mouth was sweet-lipped and expressive; that the forehead was broad and full; in short, our discerning extraordinary observer might have concluded that no commonplace soul inhabited the body of this stray woman-child of whom shy Matthew Cuthbert was so ludicrously afraid."

Many of the new edition's five-star reviews were also tongue in cheek. "Elena M" wrote: "For those of you who have not read this series, I will give you a summary: Anne is a young red-headed orphan sent to live on a farm on Prince Edward Island. Unfortunately the adoptive family wanted a boy but she does her best to fit in and warm their hearts. However, after coping with her feelings of abandonment and insecurity, getting her best friend drunk, getting teased by a boy in school, and losing the only real father figure she's ever known, she dyes her hair blonde, dons a plaid shirt and becomes the town whore of Avonlea."

The CreateSpace edition is now listed as "temporarily out of stock", with the cover photo withdrawn - although it can still be seen here . Readers appear to have banded together to complain about Anne's new look, urging each other to contact Amazon and CreateSpace over the character's misrepresentation.

The row over Anne's reimagining follows fan anger over Faber & Faber's new cover for Sylvia Plath's iconic novel The Bell Jar, which has been criticised for featuring a young woman applying make-up, and has inspired an outbreak of parody covers which will undoubtedly shortly include Anne.


Alison Flood

The GuardianTramp

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