New L.M. Montgomery-Related Books This Spring

Today marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of L.M. Montgomery’s death, at her home in Toronto, at the age of sixty-seven. I have written before about the circumstances of her death and how it was written about in the form of obituaries and tributes (many of which are included in The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 1), and so today, I wanted instead to draw your attention to four exciting new books that are set to be published in the next five weeks, each of which will add considerably to our understanding of Montgomery’s life, work, and legacy.

Maud, by Melanie J. FishbaneMaud: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery is the debut novel of Toronto author Melanie J. Fishbane. This work of historical fiction tells the story of fourteen-year-old Maud Montgomery, who dreams of becoming a writer like her beloved Louisa May Alcott but who must contend with the narrow expectations of the adults in her family: her maternal grandparents in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island, as well as her father and her stepmother in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Fishbane, who contributed a chapter to L.M. Montgomery’s Rainbow Valleys: The Ontario Years, 1911–1942 (2015), has drawn judiciously from Montgomery’s published and unpublished writings as well as extensive fieldwork in both Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan to create her novel. She has presented several papers in Charlottetown and Leaskdale about Montgomery as a teen writer. This book will be published tomorrow by Penguin Teen Canada, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada. For more about this author and this book, see Fishbane’s personal website.

L.M. Montgomery and War is a collection of essays edited and introduced by Andrea McKenzie (co-editor of a restored and annotated edition of Rilla of Ingleside) and Jane Ledwell (co-editor of the collection of essays Anne around the World: L.M. Montgomery and Her Classic). Emerging out of an international conference held at the University of Prince Edward Island in June 2014, the volume seeks to resituate Montgomery as a major war writer. It features original scholarship by Elizabeth Epperly, Susan Fisher, Maureen O. Gallagher, Irene Gammel, Sarah Glassford, Caroline E. Jones, Andrea McKenzie, E. Holly Pike, Laura M. Robinson, and Jonathan F. Vance. It will be published by McGill–Queen’s University Press early in May.

L.M. Montgomery’s Complete Journals: The Ontario Years, 1918–1921, edited by Jen Rubio, reproduces journal entries that Montgomery wrote between the ages of forty-three and forty-seven and follows on the heels of last year’s volume covering the years 1911 to 1917. Featuring an introduction by Elizabeth Epperly, this volume marks some major changes in Montgomery’s life, including the end of the Great War, a lawsuit against her exploitative first publisher, and the devastating loss of a relative whom she referred to as “my more than sister.” It will be published by Rock’s Mills Press in May.

Finally, at the end of May, Nimbus Publishing of Halifax will release After Many Years, a collection of twenty-one of Montgomery’s short stories selected and introduced by Carolyn Strom Collins and the late Christy Woster. These stories, which were originally published in North American periodicals between 1900 and 1939, were rediscovered by collectors only recently. My personal favourite of these stories is “Tomorrow Comes,” which anticipates both Little Elizabeth in Anne of Windy Poplars and Jane in Jane of Lantern Hill.

The publication of these four titles, particularly at a time when two sets of adaptations of Anne of Green Gables are airing worldwide, shows that interest in Montgomery’s work shows no signs of tapering off. Stay tuned in the coming months for a sneak preview of what’s due out this fall!

Anne Scheduling Changes

During the broadcast of the first episode of Anne last Sunday evening on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, several commercials announced what had to be a bold move for the broadcaster: while the CBC announced plans to air the first episode of another new show, Canada: The Story of Us, the following week (March 26), Anne would return on Sunday, April 2, with a rebroadcast of the first two-hour episode (“Your Will Shall Decide Your Destiny”) immediately preceding the initial broadcast of the second episode (“I Am No Bird, and No Net Ensnares Me”). This in spite of the fact that the first episode can now be watched on the CBC website (at least within Canada) and can be downloaded for free on iTunes.

Just yesterday morning, I came across the following tweet from the show’s official Twitter account:

Now, according to my PVR machine this morning, here is what’s scheduled to happen next: this Sunday, March 26, CBC will air episode two, “I Am No Bird, and No Net Ensnares Me,” in the series regular time slot of 8:00 p.m. (8:30 in Newfoundland). And then on Sunday, April 2, CBC will rebroadcast, in a four-hour block, the two-hour-long episode one and episode two, followed by the initial broadcast of episode three, “But What Is So Headstrong as Youth?

Check your local listings for updates: who knows how this schedule might change again!

Cover Art for Four More Anne Reissues by Virago Modern Classics

Virago Press has just released the covers of four more Anne reissues that it will be publishing as part of its Virago Modern Classics imprint later this year: Anne of Windy Willows (published as Anne of Windy Poplars in North America), Anne’s House of Dreams, Anne of Ingleside, and Rainbow Valley. As I mentioned in January when I posted the covers of the previous Virago editions, the artwork for all these editions is by UK-based artist Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini.

Cover art for Anne of Windy Willows (Virago Press, 2017) Cover art for Anne's House of Dreams (Virago Press, 2017) Cover art for Anne of Ingleside (Virago Press, 2017) Cover art for Rainbow Valley (Virago Press, 2017)

These editions will be released in spring 2017 in the United Kingdom and in fall 2017 in North America.

Montgomery, CBC, and Sunday Nights

Cast photo appearing at the world premiere of ANNE in Toronto on 16 March 2017. Photograph by Benjamin Lefebvre.

Tonight the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation will air the first episode of the Northwood Entertainment series Anne, written and created by Moira Walley-Beckett. Although this series is not a remake or a reboot of earlier screen versions of Anne of Green Gables but a new adaptation of Montgomery’s book, CBC’s decision to broadcast the series on Sunday evenings acts as a return home, so to speak, connecting this to so many television adaptations of Montgomery’s books that came before it.

After all, Kevin Sullivan’s miniseries Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel, and Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story were all broadcast on the CBC starting on Sunday nights (1 December 1985, 6 December 1987, and 5 March 2000, respectively), each concluding the following night; Sullivan Entertainment’s episodic series Road to Avonlea and the first two seasons of the CINAR/Salter Street Films series Emily of New Moon aired on Sunday nights during the 7–8 p.m. “family hour” time slot for most of the 1990s. In a few cases, two Montgomery television productions were shown on Sunday evenings back to back: Sullivan’s movie Lantern Hill aired on 30 December 1990 immediately after a second-season episode of Road to Avonlea, while its follow-up reunion movie Happy Christmas, Miss King aired on 13 December 1998 immediately after a second-season episode of Emily of New Moon. These productions also re-aired several times on CBC, almost always on Sunday nights.

In a sense, then, Canadian viewers have been watching adaptations of Montgomery’s work on CBC on Sunday nights for over thirty  years. And although Anne consists of a decidedly new take on the source material, I like the sense of continuity that comes with this scheduling decision, particularly for viewers who have fond memories not only of the earlier adaptations themselves but also of the experience of watching them on CBC on Sunday nights. And I look forward to tuning in on Sundays over the next seven weeks in order to discover where this new Anne universe will take us.

Anne in the news:

John Doyle on Anne: “Sublimely Reinvigorated”

The upcoming CBC/Netflix television series Anne has received a glowing review in The Globe and Mail by John Doyle, who calls the series “sublimely reinvigorated”:

This version, on the evidence of Sunday’s two-hour opener, is not reverential, nor is it overcontemporized, but it affords Anne Shirley an agency that is formidable. . . . It imagines rather than remembers or reveres previous versions, no matter how beloved they were. This Anne should be approached and appreciated in the same spirit – it’s a sublimely reinvigorated Anne of Green Gables.

Anne and Jane Eyre

My PVR machine has revealed the titles of the first two episodes of the CBC/Netflix television series Anne: “Your Will Shall Decide Your Destiny” and “I Am No Bird, and No Net Ensnares Me.” Both are allusions to Charlotte Brontë’s novel Jane Eyre, which had a profound influence on L.M. Montgomery’s writing.

This highly anticipated series premieres on CBC Television next Sunday, March 19, and on Netflix on Friday, May 12. Several clips have been posted to the Anne web page at CBC.ca, including a scene, released last week on International Women’s Day, depicting the women of the Avonlea sewing circle discussing the term “feminism.”

Anne of Dundas Square

Yesterday after work I came across two ads for the upcoming CBC/Netflix television series Anne—the first in Dundas Square and the second at a bus stop in Parkdale.

Anne of Dundas Square, an ad found in Toronto on 6 March 2017.
Anne of Dundas Square, a billboard ad found in Toronto on 6 March 2017.
Bus stop ad seen in Parkdale neighbourhood of Toronto, 6 March 2017.
Bus stop ad seen in Parkdale neighbourhood of Toronto, 6 March 2017.

Anne will premiere in March on CBC in Canada and in May on Netflix internationally.

Premiere Dates for CBC/Netflix’s Anne

The premiere dates for CBC/Netflix’s upcoming series Anne were announced today on the website The Televixen: the first episode will air Sunday, March 19 on CBC Television and on Friday, May 12 on Netflix! The series, written and created by Moira Walley-Beckett, will consist of a first season of seven episodes.