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"Ruby was a very handsome young lady, now thinking herself quite as grown up as she really was; she wore her skirts as long as her mother would let her and did her hair up in town, though she had to take it down when she went home. She had large, bright-blue eyes, a brilliant complexion, and a plump showy figure. She laughed a great deal, was cheerful and good-tempered, and enjoyed the pleasant things of life frankly."
Anne of Green Gables[src]

Ruby Gillis was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Gillis, sister of Susan and several Gillis girls and the friend of Anne Shirley.


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Update for events from Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea and Anne of the Island.

Early life[]

Ruby was born in summer 1865 in Avonlea, Prince Edward Island, to Mr. and Mrs. Gillis. She was raised there along with her sister Susan and several older sisters. Jane Andrews became Ruby's best friend.

School life[]

Ruby attended Avonlea school in September 1871 along with her best friend Jane, Diana Barry and Josie Pye. Anne and Diana invited her, along with Jane, to join their Story Club. According to Anne, Ruby's stories apparently had too much love-making in them.

Studies at Queen's Academy[]

Ruby joined a special class for students who wanted to become a teacher. She successfully passed the test and in September 1880, she attended Queen's Academy. Ruby studied there for one year and graduated in June 1881 with a Second Class teacher's licence, along with her friend Jane Andrews. Her fellow Avonlea classmates Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe, however, took up Second Year work and obtained First Class licences in one year. The last of their little group, Josie Pye, Charlie Sloane and Moody Spurgeon MacPherson, all studied at Queen's for two years.


"Ruby Gillis is dying of galloping consumption."
Rachel Lynde about Ruby's illness[src]

Ruby wasn't able to teach since she had that attack of congestion in the winter 1883. She said that she wanted to teach in White Sands in the fall and marry with Herb Spencer. But she never got the chance to marry. Ruby and her family did not want to give up on her, so they went on with their lives as if she was perfectly fine. Ruby pretended to believe that she was not dying; however, inside she knew the truth. Sadly, her inevitable death came in August 1884. She died of "galloping consumption" which is an old term for tuberculosis.


"She laughed a great deal, was cheerful and good-tempered, and enjoyed the pleasant things of life frankly."
—Ruby at Queen's[src]
"Ruby Gillis was a great girl to laugh."
Davy Keith to Anne Shirley after Ruby's funeral.[src]

Ruby was kind, positive and charming, but "frivolous" and "shallow". When Priscilla Grant noted that she found Ruby's tendency to talk constantly of boys to be very irritating especially compared to Philippa Gordon's similar habit, Anne comments that "Ruby is really so CONSCIOUS of boys. She plays at love and love-making. ...when she is boasting of her beaux that she is doing it to rub it well into you that you haven't half so many." Ruby made friends easily, but did not form deep relationships, which she regretted when she neared her early death.

Physical appearance[]

"She had large, bright-blue eyes, a brilliant complexion, and a plump showy figure. ... Ruby Gillis was the handsomest girl of the year at the Academy."
—Ruby's appearance at Queen's[src]

Ruby had pale skin, silky wheat colored hair and "bright, beautiful blue eyes". She was a renowned Avonlea beauty and many girls and young women were jealous of her appearance.


Ruby is a female given name of English origin and means red gemstone. It was very popular name in late 19th century. Gillis is a Dutch and Swedish form of Giles which means young goat.

Behind the scenes[]


  • Ruby's death is thematically significant in that she has not lived well in Anne's estimation but she dies well, reaching out to her estranged friends and repairing her damaged relationships. In the end, Ruby's death is pitiable but also brave and honest. One of the core themes of Anne of the Island is Anne's philosophical journey and Ruby's death is important in this context.


Anne of Green Gables Wiki has 109 images of Ruby Gillis (view gallery).



Notes and references[]

  1. In Anne of Green Gables (Chapter 30: The Queen's Class is Organized), when school breaks for the summer, Anne mentions that "Ruby Gillis is going to have a birthday party soon".