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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, 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
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.
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.
- "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 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 seperated were not often; when they were, they corresponded through mail.
- "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.
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
- Natalie Radford portrayed Bertha in the 2008 film Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning. She was the first actress to play the part.
- In the books, Bertha had blonde hair and Walter was redheaded. In the 2008 film, Bertha was redheaded and Walter had brown hair.
- Bertha never met her son-in-law Gilbert and her grandchildren, Joyce, Jem, Walter, Nan, Di, Shirley and Rilla.
|Anne of Green Gables Wiki has 4 images of Bertha Shirley (view category).|