August 15, 2002

Anne of Avonlea (1940)

Anne of Avonlea (1940) Play by Jeanette Carlisle

In 1940, James Reach, writing under the pseudonym Jeanette Carlisle, adapted L.M. Montgomery's novel Anne of Avonlea into a play titled Anne of Avonlea: A Comedy in Three Acts. This play was the first dramatization of Anne of Avonlea written for the stage. It was published by Samuel French, Inc., the same company that printed the 1937 stage adaptation of Anne of Green Gables by Wilbur Braun (pseudonym Alice Chadwicke).

James Reach (1909–1970) was an American playwright who wrote under several pseudonyms. Along with writing under the name Jeanette Carlisle, he also published plays under the names Hilda Manning, John Rand, and Thomas Sutton. Reach wrote many comedies, mystery-comedies, and dramatic plays, including The Wagon To The Star, Women in White, Afraid of the Dark, Blind Gambit, and Life Begins at Sixteen.

In the opening pages of Anne of Avonlea (1940), the "Story of the Play" states,

"Here is the first dramatization of L. M. Montgomery’s famous novel which has been read and loved by millions since its publication more than thirty years ago. The play is in one simple living-room set, with most of the characters young ones, and should appeal particularly to clubs, schools and churches. Its heroine is the same adorable little red-headed vixen whose acquaintance so many of you have made in 'Anne of Green Gables.' But the little girl of 'Green Gables' has become a grown-up school teacher of seventeen. How she faces and overcomes the first real problems of her life form the basis of Miss Carlisle’s faithful adaptation, of which it may be said, as Meredith Nicholson said of the original, 'A story to lift the spirit and send the pessimist into bankruptcy!'"

The story involves Anne’s experiences teaching at the Avonlea School, her friendships with Diana and Gilbert, her neighbor Mr. Harrison, and her work with the Avonlea Village Improvement Society to beautify Avonlea. The introductory “Story of the Play” states, “Miss Carlisle has magically blended these into a whole that will capture and hold your interest from curtain to curtain, that will bring you much wholesome laughter and a few sentimental tears...”

Anne of Avonlea by Jeanette Carlisle is available for purchase and licensing through Concord Theatricals, which acquired Samuel French, Inc. in 2018.

Created August 15, 2002. Re-posted online June 17, 2022. Last updated June 17, 2022.

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