Anne Shirley, the lively country girl at the heart of “Anne of Green Gables” owes part of her character to glossy New York magazines and to a famous American actress, according to a new exhibit on the classic series of novels.


Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote her books on Prince Edward Island, off the east coast of Canada. The first of the eight-part series was published in June 1908, and total sales of the books have topped 50 million copies.


The exhibit, which opened in Canada’s National Archives yesterday and runs through March 2009, dispels a commonly held notion that Montgomery was removed from the mainstream and wrote only about the small world she knew.


June Creelman, one of the exhibit’s co-curators, says Montgomery was an avid reader who had wide access to popular magazines from New York and elsewhere.


“Of course she was influenced by the people and places she knew but she was also someone who devoured popular culture, read widely, subscribed to glossy magazines and you see influences of this wider world in her writing,” Creelman said Tuesday.

Canada is issuing a stamp of Green Gables later this month.