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.

UPDATED 12 JUNE 2018: This new book will now appear as the first volume in The L.M. Montgomery Library under the title A Name for Herself: Selected Writings, 1891–1917, coming in September 2018!

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 with an “E” (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.

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, by Liz Rosenberg

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 with an “E” (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.