Sneak Preview: Cover of Complete Journals 1922–1925

Jen Rubio, publisher at Rock’s Mills Press and editor of several new volumes of L.M. Montgomery’s complete journals, released a sneak preview over Twitter this morning of the cover of the next volume, covering the years 1922 to 1925.

The book is expected out sometime this spring. I will post more details as soon as they’re released.

L.M. Montgomery Heritage Minute Released Today

Also releasing today is a Heritage Minute video devoted to L.M. Montgomery, created by Historica Canada. The script features words straight out Montgomery’s journals and provides a moving and accurate portrait of the author, who struggled with depression as she sought to live out her literary ambitions. Renowned Montgomery scholars Elizabeth R. Epperly, Laura M. Robinson, and Mary Henley Rubio acted as consultants on the project. For more details, see today’s CBC News story.

Announcing Becoming L.M. Montgomery!

Cover art for Becoming L.M. Montgomery, edited by Benjamin Lefebvre

I’m thrilled to announce the forthcoming publication of my next book, Becoming L.M. Montgomery, by University of Toronto Press in September 2018! This book has been several years in the making and has involved extensive research in archives and rare periodicals, including three trips to Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa. It is the first of several volumes to gather Montgomery’s extensive periodical publications and make them available to twenty-first-century readers. So looking forward to sharing this new material with L.M. Montgomery’s readers!

Years before she published her internationally celebrated first novel, Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery started contributing short works to periodicals across North America. While these works consisted primarily of poems and short stories, she also experimented with a wider range of forms, particularly during the early years of her career, at which point she experimented with several authorial identities before settling on the professional moniker “L.M. Montgomery.”

In Becoming L.M. Montgomery, leading Montgomery scholar Benjamin Lefebvre collects the majority of these so-called “miscellaneous” pieces and discusses them in relation to the English-speaking women writers who preceded her and the strategies they used to succeed, including the decision to publish under a gender-neutral signature. Among the highlights of the volume are Montgomery’s contributions to student periodicals, a weekly newspaper column entitled “Around the Table,” a long-lost story narrated first by a woman trapped in an unhappy marriage and then by the man she wishes she had married instead, as well as a new edition of her 1917 celebrity memoir, “The Alpine Path.” Drawing fascinating links to Montgomery’s life writing, career, and fiction, this volume will offer scholars and readers alike an intriguing new look at the work of Canada’s most enduringly popular author.

Coming in Fall 2018: Sarah McCoy’s Marilla of Green Gables

A few months ago, I stumbled upon a listing for Marilla of Green Gables, a novel by Sarah McCoy scheduled for publication in fall 2018 by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins. A synopsis for the novel appeared online a few days ago, and today, coinciding with International Women’s Day, the cover has been revealed on Bookriot.

Here is the synopsis, appearing on the HarperCollins website:

A bold, heartfelt tale of life at Green Gables . . . before Anne: A marvelously entertaining and moving historical novel, set in rural Prince Edward Island in the nineteenth century, that imagines the young life of spinster Marilla Cuthbert, and the choices that will open her life to the possibility of heartbreak—and unimaginable greatness.

Plucky and ambitious, Marilla Cuthbert is thirteen years old when her world is turned upside down. Her beloved mother has dies in childbirth, and Marilla suddenly must bear the responsibilities of a farm wife: cooking, sewing, keeping house, and overseeing the day-to-day life of Green Gables with her brother, Matthew and father, Hugh.

In Avonlea—a small, tight-knit farming town on a remote island—life holds few options for farm girls. Her one connection to the wider world is Aunt Elizabeth “Izzy” Johnson, her mother’s sister, who managed to escape from Avonlea to the bustling city of St. Catharines. An opinionated spinster, Aunt Izzy’s talent as a seamstress has allowed her to build a thriving business and make her own way in the world.

Emboldened by her aunt, Marilla dares to venture beyond the safety of Green Gables and discovers new friends and new opportunities. Joining the Ladies Aid Society, she raises funds for an orphanage run by the Sisters of Charity in nearby Nova Scotia that secretly serves as a way station for runaway slaves from America. Her budding romance with John Blythe, the charming son of a neighbor, offers her a possibility of future happiness—Marilla is in no rush to trade one farm life for another. She soon finds herself caught up in the dangerous work of politics, and abolition—jeopardizing all she cherishes, including her bond with her dearest John Blythe. Now Marilla must face a reckoning between her dreams of making a difference in the wider world and the small-town reality of life at Green Gables.

And here is the cover!

Cover art for Marilla of Green Gables, by Sarah McCoy
Courtesy of Bookriot

The book is available for pre-order from most vendors. Visit Sarah McCoy’s website and connect with her on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter.

Canadian Screen Awards Nominations for Anne Series and Fire & Dew Movie

The Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television announced today the nominees for the 2018 Canadian Screen Awards. The CBC television series Anne (which airs everywhere else in the world as Anne with an “E”) leads with thirteen nominations, and L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables: Fire & Dew, the last of three Anne movies from Breakthrough Entertainment, is up for four awards.

Congratulations to all the nominees!

Nominations for Anne/Anne with an “E”

Best Dramatic Series

Best Costume Design: Anne Dixon (“Your Will Shall Decide Your Destiny”)

Best Direction, Drama Series: Helen Shaver (“I Am No Bird, and No Net Ensnares Me”)

Best Direction, Drama Series: Niki Caro (“Your Will Shall Decide Your Destiny”)

Best Original Music, Fiction: Amin Bhatia and Ari Posner (“Remorse Is the Poison of Life”)

Best Picture Editing, Drama: David Coulson (“Your Will Shall Decide Your Destiny”)

Best Production Design or Art Direction, Fiction: Jean-François Campeau, Friday Myers and Andrew Berry (“I Am No Bird, and No Net Ensnares Me”)

Best Writing, Drama Series: Moira Walley-Beckett (“I Am No Bird, and No Net Ensnares Me”)

Best Achievement in Casting: Stephanie Gorin

Best Supporting Actor, Drama: R.H. Thomson

Best Lead Actress, Drama Series: Amybeth McNulty

Best Supporting Actress, Drama: Geraldine James

Best Guest Performance, Drama Series: Deborah Grover (“Remorse Is the Poison of Life”)

Nominations for L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables: Fire & Dew

Best Children’s or Youth Fiction Program or Series

Best Direction, Children’s or Youth: John Kent Harrison

Best Writing, Children’s or Youth: Susan Coyne

Best Performance, Children’s or Youth: Ella Ballentine

Animation of Recent Anne of Green Gables Cover Art

An animated version of Siobhán Gallagher’s cover art for the recent Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition of Anne of Green Gables (whose text I prepared and introduced) appeared on Twitter earlier this week, showing that not even Anne is immune to all this cold!

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.