Cover Art for House of Dreams: The Life of L.M. Montgomery

Given that today is the anniversary of L.M. Montgomery’s birth in 1874, it seems fitting to post that Candlewick Press has released on its website a tentative cover for its upcoming middle-grade biography, Liz Rosenberg’s House of Dreams: The Life of L.M. Montgomery, illustrated by Julie Morstad and scheduled for publication in June 2018. Please note that this cover art has not yet been finalized.

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Maud who adored stories. When she was fourteen years old, Maud wrote in her journal, “I love books. I hope when I grow up to be able to have lots of them.” Not only did Maud grow up to own lots of books, she wrote twenty-four of them herself as L. M. Montgomery, the world-renowned author of Anne of Green Gables. For many years, not a great deal was known about Maud’s personal life. Her childhood was spent with strict, undemonstrative grandparents, and her reflections on writing, her lifelong struggles with anxiety and depression, her “year of mad passion,” and her difficult married life remained locked away, buried deep within her unpublished personal journals. Through this revealing and deeply moving biography, kindred spirits of all ages who, like Maud, never gave up “the substance of things hoped for” will be captivated anew by the words of this remarkable woman.

An affecting biography of the author of Anne of Green Gables is the first for young readers to include revelations about her last days and to encompass the complexity of a brilliant and sometimes troubled life.

Cover art for House of Dreams: The Life of L.M. Montgomery
Candlewick Press

Anne of Green Gables: Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition

Cover art for Anne of Green Gables (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition, 2017)

I’m pleased to announce the release yesterday of the Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition of Anne of Green Gables, a new edition of L.M. Montgomery’s best-selling novel with a foreword by J. Courtney Sullivan, an introduction and additional contributions by me, and a bonus essay by Montgomery. Although there are innumerable editions of this book currently on the market, most trade editions in North America reprint a version of the text that was modernized in the mid-twentieth century and that Americanizes spelling, updates hyphenation and punctuation, and makes a number of additional small changes to the text. The Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition is one of the few that includes the full text of the original 1908 edition, with fourteen corrections that are listed in the section entitled “A Note on the Text.”

Odd Trend in Public Domain Editions of L.M. Montgomery Texts

Those of you who follow this site on social media (specifically on Facebook or on Pinterest) have a sense already of how fascinated I’ve become with a phenomenon that has involved not only Montgomery but also any other still-popular author whose work is in the public domain: cheap reprint editions, either in print or in ebook form. Sometimes it seems as though new cheap editions of Montgomery’s books become available on Amazon every day, many of them offering numerous titles for 99 cents, most of them with cover art that is completely random and, as such, entirely unsuitable, with this recent cover of an edition of Rilla of Ingleside as just one example:

"Wake up, Rilla—it's war time!" A random and utterly unsuitable image for the cover of a recent cheap ebook reprint of <em>Rilla of Ingleside</em>.
“Wake up, Rilla—it’s war time!” A random and utterly unsuitable image for the cover of a recent cheap ebook reprint of Rilla of Ingleside.

In other cases, creators of these cheap ebooks take art from existing editions, which could mislead readers about what edition they are buying. A couple of months ago, one such edition of Rilla of Ingleside appeared with the cover art from the restored and annotated edition that Andrea McKenzie and I edited for Penguin Canada in 2010. Because most of the editions do not identify any creators or publishers and simply have the line “Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC,” it is impossible for consumers to know who is behind these editions. Thankfully, though, when we reported this edition to Amazon, it was soon taken down all its platforms.

But now a new twist has occurred, evident in the following screen caps taken yesterday:




While it is true that these books are in the public domain and that anyone anywhere can reprint them or make ebook versions of them, these editions are most definitely not Norton Critical Editions or part of the Penguin Twentieth Century Classics series (which is now called Penguin Modern Classics) or the Oxford World’s Classics series. These are all existing covers, although the cover for The Story Girl is actually from one of eight abridgements done for Zonderkids over a decade ago. Although one would have to buy these Kindle editions to assess the extent that they are “annotated,” my sense is that, if these editions were sufficiently annotated for publication by Norton, Penguin, or Oxford, they would not be retailing for $3.73. Not to mention that the editor of a critical or annotated edition is always identified, since it is that editor’s expertise in the subject matter that is of paramount importance.

And then, of course, is this recent ebook, which appears to be an L.M. Montgomery title no one has ever heard of: Bev’s Childhood. It is actually The Story Girl.

So what do you make of this new trend? What should be most important in terms of the book market?

Join Us for The Spirit of Canada (Leaskdale, 20–22 October 2017)

Please join us next month for The Spirit of Canada: Celebrating a Canadian Literary Patriot, L.M. Montgomery, to be held at Leaskdale Manse National Historic Site (home of L.M. Montgomery from 1911 to 1926) on 20–22 October 2017.

Keynote speakers include Elizabeth Rollins Epperly (“Capturing Canada: L.M. Montgomery’s Career of Creating Place”) and Benjamin Lefebvre (“The Upward Climb to Heights Sublime: Private and Public Narratives in L.M. Montgomery’s ‘The Alpine Path'”).

The program also features presentations by Ted Barris, Rita Bode, Lesley D. Clement, Melanie J. Fishbane, Andrea McKenzie, Jen Rubio, Kate Scarth, and Emily Woster.

For more information, including a detailed agenda and a registration form, please visit the website for the Lucy Maud Montgomery Society of Ontario.

Upcoming Anne Releases

Last April, I wrote about four new books that were released last spring to coincide with the seventy-fifth anniversary of L.M. Montgomery’s death and that promised to stretch our understanding of her life, work, and legacy in exciting new ways: Melanie J. Fishbane’s YA novel Maud: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery, Andrea McKenzie and Jane Ledwell’s collection of essays L.M. Montgomery and War, Jen Rubio’s edition of L.M. Montgomery’s Complete Journals: The Ontario Years, 1918–1921, and Carolyn Strom Collins and Christy Woster’s volume of short stories After Many Years. Also published since that blog entry are Rubio’s edition of L.M. Montgomery’s Complete Journals: The Ontario Years, 1926–1929, also released in May (a volume covering the years 1922 to 1925 is forthcoming), as well as paperback editions of Mary Henley Rubio and Elizabeth Hillman Waterston’s The Complete Journals of L.M. Montgomery: The PEI Years, including a volume devoted to 1889 to 1900 and one to 1901 to 1911.

Coming up in the next several months is another new batch of releases, but for the most part the focus has shifted back to Montgomery’s most celebrated book, Anne of Green Gables.

Cover art for Anne of Green Gables (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition, 2017)

First up is the Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition of Anne of Green Gables, with a foreword by J. Courtney Sullivan, an introduction and additional contributions by me, and a bonus essay by L.M. Montgomery. Most trade reprints of the novel published in North America reprint a modernized version of the text that first appeared in the mid-twentieth century and that Americanizes spelling, updates hyphenation and punctuation, and makes a number of small changes to the text (there are fourteen small changes made to the first chapter alone). The Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition is one of the few that includes the full text of the original 1908 edition, with fourteen corrections that are listed in the section entitled “A Note on the Text.”

This new edition of Anne of Green Gables will appear less than two months before the Penguin Canada Modern Classics edition of The Blythes Are Quoted, already announced. Joining these authoritative editions of Montgomery’s work are several new books that engage with her story in a range of ways:

Meet Me at Green Gables, by Michel Bourque, illustrated by Jean-Luc Trudel: This charming picture book tells the story of Gracie Finley and Glenda Landry, who played Anne and Diana in Anne of Green Gables: The Musical in Charlottetown in the 1960s. Also available in French as Rideau rouge et pignons verts. Bouton d’or d’Acadie, August 2017.

Anne of Green Gables: A BabyLit Places Primer, by Jennifer Adams, illustrated by Alison Oliver: Designed to “captivate your brainy baby’s imagination, and yours,” this board book for toddlers focuses on the PEI locations that are so prominent in the book. Gibbs Smith, August 2017.

Anne of Green Gables, illustrated by Maki Minami: This new edition of the novel features manga illustrations by Japanese manga author Maki Minami. Seven Seas Entertainment, September 2017.

The Anne of Green Gables Cookbook, by Kate Macdonald: A new edition of this recipe book by a granddaughter of L.M. Montgomery, first published in 1985, now with the subtitle “Charming Recipes from Anne and Her Friends in Avonlea.” Race Point Publishing, September 2017.

Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel, adapted by Mariah Marsden, illustrated by Brenna Thummler: This “whimsically-illustrated” graphic novel offers new and returning readers a chance to “explore the violet vales and glorious green of Avonlea.” Andrews McMeel Publishing, October 2017.

The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables: The Enchanting Island That Inspired L.M. Montgomery, by Catherine Reid, with photographs by Kerry Michaels: Traces the ways in which Montgomery’s “deep connection to the landscape inspired her to write Anne of Green Gables.” Timber Press, March 2018.

Anne’s Colors and Anne’s Numbers, illustrated by Kelly Hill: “Part of a series of Anne concept books,” these two board books are intended for earliest readers. Tundra Books, May 2018.

Finally, it is also worth noting that L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables: The Good Stars, the second of three movies starring Ella Ballentine as Anne, will be released on DVD in November 2017, ahead of its U.S. premiere on PBS on Thanksgiving Day. No news yet on a DVD release of the third movie, L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables: Fire and Dew.

Anne Vs. Anne with an “E”

When news broke earlier this month that the CBC television series Anne (broadcast everywhere else in the world on Netflix as Anne with an “E”) had been renewed for a second season of ten episodes, to be broadcast in 2018, it reminded me that I was still curious about possible differences between the two versions. Like many fellow viewers, I had been mystified by the last-minute title change for Netflix, not to mention unimpressed with the obvious doctoring of a promotional image of lead performer Amybeth McNulty. Would they simply change the title, or would they even go so far as to replace the Tragically Hip theme song with something more universally recognizable (in other words, less Canadian)? After all, when Road to Avonlea was broadcast twenty-five years ago, it aired in slightly different form (mainly in terms of additional scenes) on the Disney Channel as Avonlea.

Given that the CBC’s Anne version is the only one I’ve seen on entertainment platforms in Canada, there seemed to be no way to satisfy my curiosity. Recently, however, someone posted to YouTube the opening credits for the Netflix version of the series, which reveals some slight differences between the two versions.

In each version, the initial title card follows current practice, which is to begin an episode with an explicit statement about the network on which it airs. Note that “A CBC Original” and “A Netflix Original Series” aren’t parallel to each other, but each phrase mirrors similar statements made on other CBC or Netflix shows.

The second title card claims ownership of the series in terms of the production company. And yet, while on the Netflix version this card reads “A Northwood Entertainment Production in Association with CBC,” the CBC version simply states “A Northwood Entertainment Production,” with no mention of Netflix. In fact, I couldn’t find any mention of Netflix at all when I read through the opening and ending credits of the episodes that aired on CBC.

The cast and crew credits are otherwise unchanged from one version to the next, except for this list of executive producers. In the CBC version, Sally Catto (General Manager, Programming at CBC English Television) is given billing above Elizabeth Bradley (VP of Content at Netflix) and Alex Sapot, whereas in the Netflix version, Bradley and Sapot appear above Catto. Road to Avonlea did likewise when it list CBC and Disney Channel executives attached to the series: the CBC broadcast listed the CBC executive(s) first, whereas the Disney Channel listed the Disney Channel executive first.

Finally, the main title card, which evidently had to be redone for the Netflix title but obviously is made to look almost identical.

And there you have it! I’ll be curious to see whether the CBC Anne or the Netflix Anne with an “E” gets released on DVD and Bluray. In the meantime, Buzzfeed published last May a fascinating account of the creation of this opening credits sequence.

The Blythes Are Quoted: New Cover Art!

At some point in the months leading to the publication of the first edition of L.M. Montgomery’s rediscovered final book, The Blythes Are Quoted in October 2009, my colleagues at Penguin Canada presented me with the cover of the hardcover edition, which looked like this:

The Blythes Are Quoted (Viking Canada, 2009)

They had designed it to be similar to Budge Wilson’s prequel, Before Green Gables, which they had published in hardcover in February 2008 along with a “100 Years of Anne” hardcover edition of Anne of Green Gables that duplicated the original 1908 cover, like this:

A year later, after the hardcover edition of Blythes did so well, Penguin Canada published a paperback edition of the book, like this:

The paperback edition appeared in November 2010 alongside a restored edition of Montgomery’s First World War novel, Rilla of Ingleside, which I edited in collaboration with Andrea McKenzie and which also was rereleased in paperback a year later, like this:

Rilla of Ingleside (Viking Canada, 2010)Rilla of Ingleside (Penguin Canada, 2011)

Meanwhile, I was thrilled when news came that Blythes would appear in Finnish and in Polish, the former as Annan jäähyväiset [Anne’s Farewell], translated by Marja Helanen-Ahtola (Helsinki: Werner Söderström Osakeyhtiö, September 2010), the latter as Ania z Wyspy Ksiecia Edwarda [Anne of Prince Edward Island], translated by Pawel Ciemniewski (Krókow: Wydawnictwo Literackie, May 2011), like this:

Annan Jäähyväiset (WSOY, 2010)Ania z Wyspy Ksiecia Edwarda

And I was especially pleased when I learned that it would be published in Japanese as well, but because of the length of the book it would be split into two volumes, as An no Omoide no Hibi [Anne’s Days of Remembrance, translated by Mie Muraoka (Tokyo: Shinchosha, October 2012), like this:

In the time since then, I moved on to other projects, but I still hoped there would be an opportunity later on to do a new edition of The Blythes Are Quoted. That opportunity came this past spring when I learned that the book would be included in a revamped Penguin Canada Modern Classics set of Canadian literature reprints. This edition will now be available in January 2018, and I’m so pleased finally to be able to share the new cover art:

What’s next for The Blythes Are Quoted? Well, I’m planning some events in the first half of 2018, and hopefully, there will be new editions in English outside Canada and further translations in the years to come. In the meantime, please join us on the book’s official Facebook page for the latest discussion!

Anne with an E in the News

The first season of Northwood Entertainment’s series Anne, which had successful run on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in March and April, launches today in the rest of the world on Netflix under the title Anne with an E.

Fittingly, Anne has made the news numerous times in anticipation of its worldwide release. Here are some highlights:

UPDATED

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!