Bertha Shirley (née Willis) was the wife of Walter Shirley and the mother of Anne.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Early life[edit | edit source]

Bertha Willis was born in 1846 somewhere in Nova Scotia to Mr. and Mrs. Willis. She was their only child and she was raised on her father's farm. In 1855, when she was nine, her mother died of consumption. Bertha and her father were devastated.

After mother's death, Bertha did all cooking on farm. She was very good at it and she could make a whole meal with dessert within twenty-five minutes. Bertha was very smart and she decided to become a teacher.

In September 1861, Bertha attended Normal School in Nova Scotia. She met there Walter Shirley and fell in love with him. Bertha studied there one year and graduated along with Walter in June 1862.

In September, Bertha and Walter started teach at Bolingbroke High School. She lived probably in boarding house and Walter sent her letters there.

"I never bothered to look in 'em, but the address on the top one is `Miss Bertha Willis,' and that was your ma's maiden name. You can take 'em if you'd keer to have 'em."
—Woman to Anne Shirley

Bertha was very nice to children and everybody loved her. She taught her favourite subject - English. Bertha loved opening students' eyes and ears to the miracle of good poetry. She loved specially Shakespeare's works.

Bertha taught there for two years until Walter proposed to her. She accepted and gave up her teachership at Bolingbroke High School.

Marriage with Walter[edit | edit source]

Walter and Bertha's wedding photo.

They were married in June 1864 and lived in the little shabby yellow house in an out-of-the-way street.

In March 1865 she gave birth to her only child, Anne, in east room. Bertha loved sunrise and it was first thing which little Anne saw.

Death[edit | edit source]

Three months after Anne's birth, Bertha and Walter died from a fever. They were buried in one grave and the School Board put up a tombstone to them as a reward for faithful service.

Personality[edit | edit source]

Bertha was said to be very neat and organized, with an agreeable nature and a love for harmony. She adored Walter and was also somewhat of a worrier, especially about Anne.

Relationships[edit | edit source]

Walter Shirley[edit | edit source]

Walter Shirley

"I mind hearing folks say when they was married that there never was two people more in love with each other."
—Woman about Walter and Bertha's marriage.

 Walter Shirley was the husband of Bertha. A homely man, his looks were sharply critised by the woman who owned the house in which he had lived with Bertha and called home, in Bolingbroke, Nova Scotia.

Walter was a schoolteacher, like his wife. The meeting of the two is unknown, however, it is known that they loved one another dearly. The times at which they were separated were not often; when they were, they corresponded through mail.

Anne Shirley[edit | edit source]

"I love her best when she is asleep and better still when she is awake."
—Bertha Shirley about her baby daughter, Anne[src]

Anne Shirley, her only child, was only a baby when Bertha died.

Physical appearance[edit | edit source]

Etymology[edit | edit source]

Bertha is a female given name of Old German origin and means bright or famous.

  • Bertha's granddaughter Rilla was named after her.

Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]

Portrayal

Trivia

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Anne of Green Gables Wiki has 6 images of Bertha Shirley (view category).

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Book appearances

Film appearances

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