Announcing the publication of L.M. Montgomery’s Rainbow Valleys: The Ontario Years, 1911–1942

L.M. Montgomery's Rainbow ValleysCongratulations to Rita Bode and Lesley D. Clement on their new collection of essays, L.M. Montgomery’s Rainbow Valleys: The Ontario Years, 1911–1942, which has just been published by McGill–Queen’s University Press! The volume consists of fourteen chapters of original scholarship by Kate Macdonald Butler, Mary Beth CavertLesley D. Clement, Melanie J. Fishbane, Natalie Forest, Caroline E. Jones, E. Holly Pike, Laura M. Robinson, Linda Rodenburg, Margaret Steffler, Kate Sutherland, William V. Thompson, Elizabeth Waterston, and Emily Woster, as well as an interlude by Katherine Cameron, an introduction by the volume editors, and an appendix by the volume editors with assistance from Kristina Eldridge and Chloe Verner.

“With its interest in placing Montgomery’s work in new cultural and historical contexts, L.M. Montgomery’s Rainbow Valleys expands our understanding of this canonical Canadian author. Although there is no disputing that PEI had an enduring impact on Montgomery’s literary sensibility, Ontario played its part too, as the essays in this collection abundantly reveal.” –Janice Fiamengo, University of Ottawa

Announcing L.M. Montgomery’s Rainbow Valleys

L.M. Montgomery's Rainbow ValleysAnnouncing L.M. Montgomery’s Rainbow Valleys: The Ontario Years, 1911–1942, a collection of essays edited by Rita Bode and Lesley D. Clement, to be published by McGill–Queen’s University Press in October 2015!

Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874-1942) and Anne of Green Gables will always be associated with Prince Edward Island, Montgomery’s childhood home and the setting of her most famous novels. Yet, after marrying Rev. Ewan Macdonald in 1911, she lived in Ontario for three decades. There she became a mother of two sons, fulfilled the duties of a minister’s wife, advocated for copyright protection and recognition of Canadian literature, wrote prolifically, and reached a global readership that has never waned.

Engaging with discussions on both her life and her fiction, L.M. Montgomery’s Rainbow Valleys explores the joys, sorrows, and literature that emerged from her transformative years in Ontario. While this time brought Montgomery much pleasure and acclaim, it was also challenged and complicated by a sense of displacement and the need to self-fashion and self-dramatize as she struggled to align her private self with her public persona. Written by scholars from various fields and including a contribution by Montgomery’s granddaughter, this volume covers topics such as war, religion, women’s lives, friendships, loss, and grief, focusing on a range of related themes to explore Montgomery’s varied states of mind.

An in-depth study of one of Canada’s most internationally acclaimed authors, L.M. Montgomery’s Rainbow Valleys shows how she recreated herself as an Ontario writer and adapted to the rapidly changing world of the twentieth century.

“Duty and Privilege”: L.M. Montgomery’s Rilla of Ingleside

Rilla of Ingleside (Viking Canada, 2010)“In my latest story, ‘Rilla of Ingleside,’ I have tried, as far as in me lies, to depict the fine and splendid way in which the girls of Canada reacted to the Great War—their bravery, patience and self-sacrifice. The book is theirs in a sense in which none of my other books have been: for my other books were written for anyone who might like to read them: but ‘Rilla’ was written for the girls of the great young land I love, whose destiny it will be their duty and privilege to shape and share.” —L.M. Montgomery, “How I Became a Writer,” Manitoba Free Press, 1921

This edition of Rilla of Ingleside—the only modern edition to consist of the full text of the original 1921 edition—includes introductions to the novel and to the First World War, maps of Europe, war poems by L.M. Montgomery and Virna Sheard, and an extensive glossary of terms, allusions, and events. It was edited by Benjamin Lefebvre and Andrea McKenzie and is available exclusively from Penguin Random House Canada.

For more on Montgomery’s depiction of the First World War in her fiction and in her journals, please visit the website of Laura M. Robinson’s excellent exhibit The Canadian Home Front: L.M. Montgomery’s Reflections on the First World War.

For more on Rilla of Ingleside as one of the only near-contemporaneous accounts of the First World War by a Canadian woman, see the following sites:

Announcing The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 3

The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 3: A Legacy in Review

I am very pleased to announce the forthcoming publication, in fall 2014, of the third (and final!) volume of The L.M. Montgomery Reader, subtitled A Legacy in Review. It collects for the first time over four hundred reviews of Montgomery’s twenty-four books, originally appearing in periodicals from eight countries. The selections are accompanied by an extensive introduction as well as an epilogue that provides an overview of reviews of twenty-four additional books attributed to L.M. Montgomery after her death.

“Now that it is complete, The L.M. Montgomery Reader is sure to be the authoritative source on Montgomery’s critical and popular reception as a bestselling author. Benjamin Lefebvre has devoted many years to the Reader, and one cannot imagine anyone better suited for the work.”—Janice Fiamengo, Department of English, University of Ottawa

Announcing The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 2

The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 2: A Critical HeritageAnnouncing the forthcoming publication of The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 2: A Critical Heritage, which will be published by University of Toronto Press in May 2014.

Following on the heels of the first volume of The L.M. Montgomery Reader, this second volume narrates the development of L.M. Montgomery’s (1874–1942) critical reputation in the seventy years since her death. Edited by leading Montgomery scholar Benjamin Lefebvre, it traces milestones and turning points such as adaptations for stage and screen, posthumous publications, and the development of Montgomery Studies as a scholarly field. Lefebvre’s introduction also considers Montgomery’s publishing history in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom at a time when her work remained in print not because it was considered part of a university canon of literature, but simply due to the continued interest of readers.

The twenty samples of Montgomery scholarship included in this volume broach topics such as gender and genre, narrative strategies in fiction and life writing, translation, and Montgomery’s archival papers. They reflect shifts in Montgomery’s critical reputation decade by decade: the 1960s, when a milestone chapter on Montgomery coincided with a second wave of texts seeking to create a canon of Canadian literature; the 1970s, in the midst of a sustained reassessment of popular fiction and of literature by women; the 1980s, when the publication of Montgomery’s life writing, which coincided with the broadcast of critically acclaimed television productions adapted from her fiction, radically altered how readers perceived her and her work; the 1990s, when a conference series on Montgomery began to generate a sustained amount of scholarship; and the opening years of the twenty-first century, when the field of Montgomery Studies became both international and interdisciplinary.

This is the first book to consider the posthumous life of one of Canada’s most enduringly popular authors.

From Proofs to Book

I was thrilled to receive, last Friday afternoon, a padded envelope containing my first author’s copy of my new book, The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 1: A Life in Print, published by University of Toronto Press. I’m always rather in awe of the transformation from a PDF of proofs to a physical book, and this time was no different. I’m enormously pleased with how it turned out, and I do look forward to hearing the reactions of those who read it.

What is especially gratifying, of course, is that it’s taken six years to reach the point where I could hold the book in my hands as a tangible object. Between August 2007 and July 2009, I held a postdoctoral fellowship (funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, otherwise known as SSHRC) at the University of Alberta while living in my current hometown of Waterloo, Ontario (it’s a long story). My project was entitled “Branding a Life: The Case of L.M. Montgomery™” and my plan was to write a book-length study about Montgomery’s body of work, leading up to her final work, The Blythes Are Quoted, which at the time remained unpublished). Although I did a lot of researching and writing during those two years, I also spent a fair bit of time travelling to libraries and archives in order to track down Montgomery’s short stories, serials, poems, essays, and interviews, including a good number that are not listed in Lucy Maud Montgomery: A Preliminary Bibliography (1986). Initially my plan was to introduce all of this little-known material in the book, but then two things happened: first, Penguin Canada accepted The Blythes Are Quoted in March 2008, and second, I realized that I now had so many essays and interviews for a book of their own. Initially my plan was to put together a volume entitled How I Began: L.M. Montgomery’s Essays and Interviews 1910–1939. But then, somewhat inevitably, I kept finding material that I found just as fascinating—early scholarship, entries in reference works, profiles, and book reviews—and started to think of ways to place all this work in the context of Montgomery’s publishing history within her lifetime and in the seven decades since her death. And soon, the book-length study that I had originally planned got shelved, and the three-volume L.M. Montgomery Reader emerged. Like most big projects, this one has been several years in the making and it has evolved considerably as time went on, but I am very happy with the final shape of each of the three volumes.

Speaking of the three volumes, I’m pleased to announce that Volume 2: A Critical Heritage will be published in May 2014! And who knows? Maybe at some point I’ll be able to resume work on the book-length study that I had originally planned!

[Note: This post originally appeared on Room of Ben’s Own: Homepage for Benjamin Lefebvre.]

L.M. Montgomery YA Novel Set for 2015

Last week, a press release announced that Penguin Canada had acquired a young adult novel based on the adolescent life of L.M. Montgomery. Its author, Melanie J. Fishbane, recently received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She has also blogged on this site before (and she knows more about YA fiction than anyone else I know!). The novel will be published under Penguin Canada’s Razorbill imprint in 2015, with the support of L.M. Montgomery’s heirs.

This is a very exciting project. Although Montgomery’s fiction has been reimagined, extended, and transformed in innumerable ways—prequels, adaptations for stage and screen, parodies, and abridgements—her own life is far less known to most readers of her books. Yet many readers of her journals and letters find her own life story just as fascinating and compelling—if not more so—as her fiction. In fact, so far her life story has been dramatized solely for the stage: Don Hannah’s The Wooden Hill (1994), Anne Kathleen McLaughlin’s Maud of Cavendish (2004), Leo Marchildon and Adam-Michael James’s The Nine Lives of L.M. Montgomery (2008), and Maud of Leaskdale (2012). This will be the first time that Montgomery’s own life story is tackled in print outside the genre of biography, and it will also be the first such project to focus exclusively on Montgomery’s young life as an adolescent.

I’m very much looking forward to this exciting project, which will introduce a new take of Montgomery’s life to an audience of readers who will likely discover, as have readers of her life writing already, that she is just as compelling a protagonist as her best-known characters.

Announcing The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 1

Announcing the forthcoming publication of The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 1: A Life in Print, which will be published by University of Toronto Press in December 2013.

The L.M. Montgomery Reader assembles significant primary material on one of Canada’s most enduringly popular authors throughout her high-profile career and after her death. Each of its three volumes gathers pieces published all over the world to set the stage for a much-needed reassessment of Montgomery’s literary reputation. Much of the material is freshly unearthed from archives and digital collections and has never before been published in book form.

The selections appearing in this first volume focus on Montgomery’s role as a public celebrity and as the author of the resoundingly successful Anne of Green Gables (1908). They give a strong impression of her as a writer and cultural critic as she discusses a range of topics with wit, wisdom, and humour, including the natural landscape of Prince Edward Island, her wide readership, anxieties about modernity, and the continued relevance of “old ideals.” These essays and interviews are augmented by additional pieces that discuss her work’s literary and cultural value in relation to an emerging canon of Canadian literature.

Each volume is accompanied by an extensive introduction and detailed commentary by leading Montgomery scholar Benjamin Lefebvre that trace the interplay between the author and the critic, as well as between the private and public Montgomery. This volume—and the Reader as a whole—adds tremendously to our understanding and appreciation of Montgomery’s legacy as a Canadian author and as a literary celebrity both during and beyond her lifetime.

Rilla in Paperback!

Rilla of Ingleside (Penguin Canada, 2011)I received my copies this week of the paperback version of the edition of L.M. Montgomery’s Rilla of Ingleside that I edited jointly with Andrea McKenzie and that was published in hardcover last October. The official street date is next Tuesday, 1 November 2011, but it’s already available for order at and for purchase at bookstores. Order or buy your copy today!

Rilla of Ingleside—originally written as the final sequel to Anne of Green Gables—focuses on Rilla Blythe, the pretty and high-spirited youngest daughter of Anne Shirley. The novel paints a vivid and compelling picture of the women who battled to keep the home fires burning throughout the tumultuous years of the First World War. Using her own wartime experience, Montgomery recreates the laughter and grief, poignancy and suspense, struggles and courage of Canadian women at war. This special gift edition includes Montgomery’s complete, restored, and unabridged original text, as well as a thoughtful introduction from the editors, a detailed glossary, maps of Europe during the war, and war poems by L.M. Montgomery and her contemporary Virna Sheard.

“A tried-and-true wartime novel … Poignant, funny, sentimental, ironic, suspenseful, and heartbreaking.” —Toronto Star

“An essential purchase for all libraries, a wonderful read for adults and youth aged twelve and up, and a great resource for students of World War I. Highly recommended.” —CM Magazine

Visit the book’s official website and the book’s official Facebook page.