Emily Byrd Starr
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The series takes Emily from age ten to twenty-eight. She starts out a small, dark-haired child with a vivid imagination and passion for writing, and the series closes on her as an adult woman and professional writer. She goes through many difficult times in this period, and deals with near-death experiences, the deaths of those around her, love affairs, psychic experiences, and her quest for fame.
Throughout the three novels of this series, Emily grows up an orphan under the care of her strict, old-fashioned relatives, the Murrays. Emily loves the farm, called New Moon, and her Aunt Laura and Cousin Jimmy but has a difficult relationship with her autocratic Aunt Elizabeth.
Emily enjoys the stimulating friendship of Dean Priest, a distant relative and former schoolmate of her father, and they are briefly engaged during the final volume of the series. Emily finally marries her childhood sweetheart, Teddy Kent and her best friend Ilse Burnley is married to another of their friends, Perry Miller, who was also New Moon's hired chore boy in the first volume.
Throughout the series, Emily ponders what it means to be a writer and a woman and has 'very decided ideas of what she was going to make of herself'. Living up to her place as a Murray and a woman of New Moon, she often acts to protect her pride and reputation rather than her happiness.
Emily is the daughter of Douglas Starr, a poor journalist, and Juliet Murray, a woman from an elitist family who would not allow her to marry Douglas and rejected her when the two eloped. Juliet died when Emily was four and her father dies of consumption at the beginning of the first novel when Emily is ten. Emily is then taken in by her mother's family and moves to New Moon, her mother's family's ancestral home, in nearby Blair Water.
Emily of New Moon
Emily is introduced as a ten-year-old living with her ailing and penniless father, with her mother having died when she was four. When her father dies, taken in by her mother's family and moves to New Moon, her mother's family's ancestral home, in nearby Blair Water. Emily falls in love with New Moon and soon comes to love her guardians, Aunt Elizabeth, Aunt Laura and Cousin Jimmy, although she always has a difficult relationship with the old-fashioned and unyielding Elizabeth. Other relatives mentioned in the series are Aunt Ruth Dutton, Uncle Wallace Murray and his wife Aunt Eva, Uncle Oliver Murray and Aunt Addie, and two of their children, Jen and Andrew.
She makes friends at school, and one of them betrays her by revealing that she doesn't really like her. She then meets Ilse Burnley, a neighbour, distant relative, and unconventional tomboy, and they are fast friends throughout the series. She also meets Perry Miller, the hired chore boy at New Moon, and Frederick Kent, known as Teddy, who lives nearby.
Emily is finally given permission to go to Shrewsbury High School to further her education and dream of becoming an author. Her friends Ilse, Perry and Teddy attend high school with her. Each of the central foursome has dreams toward which he or she is working: Emily to be a writer, Ilse an elocutionist, Teddy an artist and Perry a business man and/or politician.
She makes new friends and enemies, endures various scandals, and experiences many triumphs, including having her first pieces of writing published. While studying at the high school, she boards with her Aunt Ruth. Aunt Ruth is an incredibly intolerant and annoying person, who constantly suspects Emily of being secretive and who never gives Emily the benefit of the doubt; however, she does come through in Emily's hour of greatest need.
An expatriate Islander offers to take Emily to New York and help her with her literary career, but Emily chooses to remain in rural Canada and work from there. The novel closes on the central foursome graduating and making plans for their futures: Emily is to go home to New Moon and settle down to her writing career, Ilse and Teddy are going to Montreal to study elocution and art respectively, and Perry has a job as a law clerk for a big firm in Charlottetown where he expects to be successful.
In Emily's Quest, Emily is finally considered grown up. She writes and sends her stories and poetry to magazines where many of them are published, and has a novel published to significant acclaim.
Emily spends much of her time trying to gain Dean Priest's blessing on her writing; she values his opinion above all others, as he has travelled and seen a lot of the world, but Dean is jealous of her dedication and dismisses her stories as 'pretty, childish scribbles'. When he tells Emily that her first novel, 'A Seller of Dreams' is terrible, she burns it and then falls down the stairs. Although the fall is not too serious, Emily's foot is pierced by a pair of scissors and she nearly dies of blood poisoning.
Touched by Dean's care and affection after the accident, and thinking that Teddy Kent does not care for her any more, Emily agrees to marry him, much to the shock and displeasure of both their families (Dean is old enough to be her father and is lame). But after a second sight experience that seemed to tell her that she 'belonged' to Teddy, Emily realises that she does not love Dean in the way he loves her, and breaks off the engagement.
Emily writes a new novel in order to entertain her injured Aunt Elizabeth, and some months after this, the novel is finally published and her artistic dreams are realised. However, pride in her accomplishments does not protect her from the pain and shock of Ilse becoming engaged to Teddy. Still too proud to admit that she has feelings for Teddy, Emily helps Ilse with the preparations until the morning of the wedding, when Ilse hears that Perry is on his deathbed after a car accident and runs off to be with him. Ilse and Perry admit their feelings for each other and are married quietly.
After many years of misunderstandings, Emily and Teddy finally find each other and become betrothed at the close of this, the final volume of the series.
In April 2007, the novels were adapted into a 26-episode animated television series in Japan called Kaze no Shoujo Emily. The series was produced by NHK and Tokyo Movie Shinsha. In the series, Emily is voiced by Japanese voice actress Tomoko Kawakami.