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Anne Cordelia Shirley-Cuthbert is the titular protagonist of Anne. She is the orphaned daughter of Walter Shirley and Bertha Shirley, and the adoptive daughter of Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert. She is portrayed by Amybeth McNulty.

CBC Biography

After an abusive childhood spent in orphanages and working in the homes of strangers, 13-year-old Anne Shirley is a remarkably resilient girl with a unique spirit, fierce intellect and brilliant imagination. She is played by Amybeth McNulty. [1]


Anne spent the majority of her childhood bouncing between living in an orphanage with girls who would bully her, and different homes where she would work. The various homes had terrible conditions for her, including mental and physical abuse. Anne's first real home became Green Gables, which was also the first place to treat her kindly. However, she still suffers from PTSD from the events that happened in her old home causing her to blank out in moments.

Appearance and Personality

Anne has red hair commonly referred to as ugly by both herself and people harassing her, that she keeps in two braids. After a failed attempt to dye her hair black using a blue laundry stripper, her hair turned into a shade of green. Because of that, Anne has to cut her hair very short, ending up with a pixie cut. This later grows out to a bob. In Season Three, she sometimes wears her hair down - which is when you can see that it's wavy. Pale skin, with lots of freckles; she's shown to be skinny, and has bright blue eyes.

Her clothing is quite plain, although she is grateful for them; often wearing a brown dress that Marilla made. She owns a blue dress with puff sleeves that Matthew bought for her from Charlottetown, which she later gives away to her native friend, Ka'kwet, after she outgrows it. When she is prepared to head off to Queen's Academy, Mathew and Marilla bring her two new dresses; one purchased, and the other handsewn by Marilla, a corset, and a modestly elegant parasol.

Anne is talkative and has an extensive vocabulary as well as imagination. She likes to write and tell stories. Anne often has small panic attacks when she is triggered by traumatic moments in her life, due to the extensive abuse and mistreatment she received at the hands of her foster parents and at the orphanage. She desires to have friends and be well-liked, and succeeds in this with Diana, Ruby, and Cole.


Bertha Shirley

Bertha Shirley is Anne's birth mother who died of a fever when she was three months old, so she doesn't have much of a relationship with her. However, in The Better Feeling of My Heart she receives a book that used to belong to her mother, and discovers that Bertha was a teacher and had red hair like Anne. She also discovered that her mother's handwriting looked like her's. Later, she can be seen writing a letter to Gilbert and starting it with the sentence, "I look like my mother."

Walter Shirley

Walter Shirley is Anne's birth father. Like her mother, he died of fever when she was a baby. Anne never knew him, but knows from the book given to her in The Better Feeling of My Heart that he knew how to draw well and cared about her mother.

Marilla Cuthbert

Anne and Marilla didn't always have the smoothest relationship. In Your Will Shall Decide Your Destiny Marilla discovers her amethyst brooch is missing and blames Anne. She tells Anne that if she doesn't confess, Anne will be sent back to the orphanage. This pushes Anne to lie and tell Marilla she was playing with the brooch and it fell in the well. Furious, Marilla sends Anne back to the orphanage.

Later, Marilla finds the brooch and rushes out to tell Mathew what happened. He hurries off on a horse to find and and bring her back. When he doesn't return by night, Marilla is terrified that he and Anne are both dead and is about to ride a horse and find them herself, but Rachel stops her before she can leave, telling her that her husband Thomas already went out to search for Anne and Mathew.

Even though she was worried sick when Anne was gone, when Anne and Matthew come back Marilla is cold, and treats Anne as though nothing happened. Later, in I Am No Bird, and No Net Ensnares Me Marilla apologizes to Anne after she runs away, crying, from a picnic. This was when their relationship started to bloom, even though Anne often feels that Marilla doesn't love her because Marilla is so cold. But Marilla eventually figures out how to show Anne she cares about her, doing many things for her - including making her a special surprise cake for her sixteenth birthday. Eventually, Marilla becomes Anne's adoptive mother.

Matthew Cuthbert

When Matthew first meets Anne, he's nervous to approach her because he has a fear of nearly all women. But Anne is very forward and talks a lot, something he enjoys. The two immediately like each other. Since he doesn't have a heart to tell her that they had wanted a boy, he decides to take her home and let Marilla deal with it.

When they arrive and Anne receives the horrible news, Matthew tells Marilla he wants to keep Anne. At breakfast the next day he tells Marilla he hired a boy to help. Anne thinks he's trying to replace her, but Matthew later tells her that he was saying that in the hope she could stay. When Matthew sees Marilla's giving her a chance, he's happy and relieved.

After Marilla finds her brooch again, Matthew takes a horse to go find Anne. He arrives at the train station and discovers he's too late, but isn't going to give up. In I Am No Bird, and No Net Ensnares Me he travels in many different ways to get to the orphanage and get Anne back. When he discovers she isn't there, he isn't ready to give up. After getting a lead from the milkman, he heads to the train station. There, Anne is furious at him and refuses to go home. When someone asks Anne if Matthew is bothering her, Matthew says, "She's my daughter!" causing Anne to hug him and cry.

In the following years, Anne and Matthew become good friends and Matthew has no boundaries when it comes to pleasing Anne - whether it's dressing up as an owl for the Christmas Pantomime or buying her a new dress with puff sleeves for Christmas. In The Better Feeling of My Heart Matthew distances himself from Anne because he doesn't want to "hold her back," but only succeeds in upsetting her. Later, Marilla gives him a talking-to and he hands Anne some money so she can visit Green Gables whenever she wants. He proceeds to apologize for hurting her and tells Anne he's going to miss her. Anne jumps up and hugs him while telling him she loves him.

Diana Barry

Diana is Anne's bosom friend. The two meet in Your Will Shall Decide Your Destiny and immediately become friends. They make an oath to be bosom friends forever and grow closer as the years pass.

Once when Diana was at Anne's house, the girls decided to have some raspberry cordial. But Anne accidentally gives them current wine and the girls got drunk. When Mrs. Barry finds out she bans Anne from playing with Diana. But when Minnie May gets sick Diana asks Anne for help and Anne - who has treated croup before - helps quickly and saves Minnie May's life. After that Mrs. Barry forgives Anne and lets the girls be friends again.

Later on, Anne buys a locket and wants to give it to Diana, but drops it - causing the locket to split in two. The girls have the idea to keep it like that, and for each other them to have one half of the locket.

In their last year of school, Diana and Anne always connect the two pieces of the locket together before they go home, and count down the days before they leave. When Diana gets into Queens with Anne, the girls are overjoyed. But Diana is concerned about what her parents will think since she took the entrance exam without telling them and they want her to go to finishing school. Anne tells her not to worry and that it's her future - not theirs. But Diana goes to Anne a day later and reveals that her parents aren't letting her go.

Yet, after a conversation Mrs. Barry has with Marilla, she decides to let Diana go to Queens. When Anne sees Diana and her father arrive at Queens, the two girls hug and are relived that they don't have to say good-bye. They agree to go with their old plan and become roommates.

Gilbert Blythe

Gilbert Blythe is Anne's main love interest, although their feelings remain unresolved and unconfessed for much of the series. Anne meets Gilbert in But What Is So Headstrong as Youth? when he encounters her walking to school, and defends her against Billy's bullying. Gilbert takes an immediate interest in Anne, attempting to talk to her, displaying kind gestures, and referring to her as "a cute girl" when asked about walking with her by the other boys. Anne however does not return his interest, finding his chivalry to subvert her independence, and ignoring him to fit in with the other girls, particularly Ruby Gillis who has a long-standing crush on him. Gilbert's attempts to get Anne's attention frustrate him, and he pulls her hair and calls her "Carrots" in school, causing her to hit him with her slate and break it. Gilbert unsuccessfully attempts to take blame for the incident when Mr. Phillips humiliates Anne in front of the class for this. Anne continues to hold animosity toward Gilbert for this event, but encourages Ruby to talk to him when they visit the work crew repairing the Gillis house after a fire. Gilbert pays specific attention to Anne during this visit, but she ignores him.

The two become academic rivals, with Anne beating Gilbert in a spelling competition. When his father falls ill, Anne is asked to bring his schoolwork to him daily while he home from school, which Diana teases her for. Her feelings toward him soften when she realizes that Gilbert will become an orphan like her if his father passes away. After the funeral for Gilbert's father, Anne attempts to console him, but it comes out poorly and upsets Gilbert. When she visits him to apologize, she finds that he has moved out of his family home. Gilbert later sees Anne in Charlottetown, where they share a conversation and settle their differences with a truce before Gilbert leaves to work on a steamer.

During Season 2, Anne writes Gilbert a letter to inform him of the "discovery" of gold in Avonlea. When she receives his response, she decides to keep the letter, becoming defensive with Diana and Marilla and insisting that there is nothing romantic about their correspondence. When Gilbert returns home, he is happy to see her and does not comment on her haircut as others do. The Cuthberts later invite Gilbert and Bash for Christmas dinner, where Gilbert gives Anne a thumb dictionary as a gift, with a personalized note referencing their spelling competitions. When Anne and a group of others visit Charlottetown as a part of their plan to save Ms. Stacy's job, Cole comments on Gilbert's obvious crush on Anne, which she vehemently denies. After Bash and Mary's wedding, the two share a friendly conversation and their dreams for future careers.

In Season 3 Anne and Gilbert have become closer, with the Cuthberts helping out with Bash and Mary's daughter, and on the Blythe farm. Anne shows signs of growing interest in Gilbert, but often deflects them. When he escorts her on the train to Charlottetown, she rejects his friendly gestures with annoyance, confusing and frustrating him. When Gilbert has to inform Mary of her incurable sepsis, Anne consoles him as he airs his feelings and they share a hug, During a dance practice, they share an intimate moment, but neither acknowledge it. Anne becomes more easily flustered around Gilbert, and confesses to Diana having noticed him more recently, but not responding when she asks if Anne has a crush on him. At the county fair, Anne consults a fortune teller regarding her feelings and a future with Gilbert, but becomes upset and jealous when he arrives with Winnifred, having been courting her secretly. Her jealousy presents as animosity toward him, but he defends her writing in the newspaper. After a successful protest which the two of them help organize, they share a moment alone and nearly kiss.

At a party after exams, Gilbert arrives and confesses to a drunken Anne that "just one thing" is keeping him from proposing to Winnifred and accepting his dream at the Sorbonne, implying his feelings for her. She responds with confusion and Gilbert takes this to mean she does not return his feelings. After seeking advice from Josephine Barry and mending her friendship with Diana, Anne admits aloud that she is in love with Gilbert. She goes to confess to him, leaving a note in his stead, but it is misplaced and Gilbert never reads it. Gilbert decides against proposing to Winnifred as his feelings for Anne are too important, and writes her a letter confessing this, but Anne tears it up in anger before reading it, assuming it meant his earlier confession was untrue. Upon arriving at Queens, Anne sees Winifred and learns that she and Gilbert are not engaged as she thought. Diana confronts Gilbert on a train to Charlottetown as he is traveling to Toronto, and informs him of Anne's letter which he tells her he never received. He rushes to find Anne at her boarding house, and the two share their first kiss, promising to write to one another.

Ruby Gillis

Ruby and Anne meet in But What Is So Headstrong as Youth? on Anne's first day at school. Anne accidentally walks to school with Gilbert, who Ruby has a crush on. When the girls confront her, Ruby is crying. Anne apologizes, but it doesn't do much to comfort Ruby.

In An Inward Treasure is Born, the Gillis's house is on fire. Anne remembers something she read in a fire manual at the orphanage and runs into Ruby's burning house. She closes all the windows and doors, keeping the fire from getting worse. Ruby's parents decide to split their children up among their friends until the house is rebuilt, and Ruby is forced to stay with Anne, even though she doesn't want to.

At Ruby's first night at Anne's house, she's miserable and crying in bed. But Anne comforts her by telling her to look on the bright side and suggesting all the things that might be good about this. She also tells Ruby about Princess Cordelia and how Gilbert was putting out the fire on her behalf. She also suggests bringing scones for the boys when the start working on Ruby's house the next day, and tells Ruby she can give a scone to Gilbert. This cheers Ruby up, and by soon she's asleep.

A week later, Anne and Ruby have bonded in their time together, and on the last night - when Ruby and Anne are going to sleep - Ruby tells Anne she'd going to miss her. This is because Anne quit school after Mr. Phillips embarrassed her in front of everyone and Ruby doesn't know when she'll see Anne again. The episode ends with Anne going back to school, where Diana and Ruby greet her happily.

Later, Ruby, Diana, and Anne form a book club and create their own playhouse. The three girls also go to Queens College together, and are clearly very good friends.

Cole Mackenzie

Cole is introduced in Signs are Small Measurable Things, but Interpretations are Illimitable. Anne seems to already know him a little, but they aren't friends.

Later in the episode, Billy purposefully spills ink on a drawing Cole made of Camelot. Cole reacts and Mr. Phillips tells him to go to the blackboard and do lines in front of the whole class. While he's up there, Anne gets up and cleans the mess Billy made, putting Cole's ruined drawing back on his desk. Later that day, the girls are eating lunch. Anne is watching Cole eat by himself and gets up, saying she knows, "just how he feels." Diana follows her, and Anne compliments Cole's picture and asks if the two of them can sit with him. The other girls soon join them.

In The Determining Acts of Her Life, Anne comes to school with ribbons in her hair. Cole and Diana decide to style her hair using the ribbons and get in trouble. Later in that episode, Josie goes up to Cole during lunch and says she might allow him to kiss her. When he says that he doesn't like her, Josie angrily marches over to the other girls and calls Cole a freak. To this, Anne responds by saying, "Josie Pye, you take that back! Cole is my friend!" In that same episode, Josie makes the boys and girls play spin the bottle. When Anne spins, the boy it [the bottle] lands on doesn't want to kiss her, so Cole says he'll do it.

In Memory Has as Many Moods as The Temper, Cole accompanies Diana and Anne to Josephine Barry's party, which Cole and Anne enjoy. In that episode the three of them discover that Aunt Jo is a lesbian, and in What We Have Been Makes Us What We Are Cole reveals to Anne that he is like her, and is gay. In The Growing Good of the World he points out to Anne that Gilbert has a crush on her, though she denies this. At the end of the episode, he decides to move in with Josephine Barry.

He appears several times in season three, and is with Anne when she opens a letter from one of her old caretakers that might have information on her parents. They don't, and Anne acts as though it's fine. But later she reveals to Cole that it actually disappointed her.