- "A good, sturdy, sensible lad ... Always reminded me of my father."
- —Gilbert about Shirley[src]
Shirley was born on April 2, 1897 in Ingleside, Glen St. Mary, to Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe. After his birth, Anne was ill for a very long time, and though she recovered, Susan Baker was left to care for Shirley for a long time.
Shirley was always Susan's boy and he called her 'Mother Susan' before he left for France. She made him her favourite and she spoilt him often and favoured him over the rest of the Blythe children. When Anne and Gilbert went to Europe, Susan took Shirley with her to her brother's home. Susan refused to let him be spanked.
He was a quiet child and was "sedate, sensible, thoughtful, full of a quiet humour" as a teenager. On the way to the lighthouse dance in 1914, he "liked to walk with Una Meredith because she never tried to make him talk or badgered him with chatter."
World War IEdit
- " Just at that moment Shirley was sitting on the edge of the table in the living-room, swinging his legs—a brown, ruddy, wholesome lad, from top to toe, every inch of him—and saying coolly, "Mother and dad, I was eighteen last Monday. Don't you think it's about time I joined up?"
The pale mother looked at him.
"Two of my sons have gone and one will never return. Must I give you too, Shirley?"
The age-old cry—"Joseph is not and Simeon is not; and ye will take Benjamin away." How the mothers of the Great War echoed the old Patriarch's moan of so many centuries agone!
"You wouldn't have me a slacker, mother? I can get into the flying-corps. What say, dad?" "
- —Shirley asking for permission to enlist, Rilla of Ingleside Chapter 25[src]
When the war first started, Shirley was too young to enlist. Eventually he joined the Flying Corps in 1917. He came home unscarred—the only of the Blythe and Meredith boys who did.
Shirley was a quiet person. He was different from his siblings - Jem was brave and dramatic, Walter was sensitive and passionate, Nan and Di were friendly and vivacious and Rilla was bright and stubborn at the same time.
- "So Shirley went—not radiantly, as to a high adventure, like Jem, not in a white flame of sacrifice, like Walter, but in a cool, business-like mood, as of one doing something, rather dirty and disagreeable, that had just got to be done."
- —Shirley goes off to war[src]
Shirley, however, was a sensible child. He did not inherit his mother's imagination, like Walter and Nan, but was very practical and level-headed, like his father (and, possibly, his grandfather). He did not talk very much. When he went off to fight in World War I in 1917, he viewed the war simply as something that had to be fought, not adding any drama or noble aspirations to it.
Shirley's brown eyes and hair, as well as his tanned brown skin, earned him the nick-name 'the little brown boy'.
Shirley is a given name of Old English origin and means bright meadow.
- Shirley was named after his mother's maiden name.
Behind the scenesEdit
- Shirley's age is varied throughout the series. He was two at the beginning of Anne of Ingleside, five to seven in Rainbow Valley, sixteen at the beginning of Rilla of Ingleside and eighteen near the end of Rilla of Ingleside. Since his age in Rilla of Ingleside is obviously not right, dates above fit in with the references from Anne of Ingleside, which was published later. Montgomery likely calculated ages when she returned to the Anne series to write Anne of Windy Poplars and Anne of Ingleside, noticed the errors and made Shirley a bit older in Anne of Ingleside so that the dates would fit properly.
- His birthday is known to be April 2 because it is said to be the Monday before the United States declared war on Germany. The day the United States declared war on Germany was April 6, 1917 (Friday).
- He is one of two characters to be called brown (tan). The other being Paul Irving (when Paul's father in Anne of Avonlea returned, he said that his son had become brown).
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Short story appearances