Carolyn Strom Collins

Revisiting Anne and Montgomery

Three new books released this month invite readers to revisit the story of Anne of Green Gables and the life story L.M. Montgomery prepared for posthumous publication in the form of ten handwritten volumes of journals. All three books are the result of careful dedication on the part of volume editors whose painstaking attention to detail has made rare archival material come alive for Montgomery’s worldwide readership.

Cover art for ANNE OF GREEN GABLES: THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT

First, Halifax publisher Nimbus Publishing has released Anne of Green Gables: The Original Manuscript, edited by Carolyn Strom Collins. This book consists of a transcription of the handwritten manuscript of Anne of Green Gables that showcases for the first time Montgomery’s creative process and elaborate revision system. It also includes, as an appendix, a gallery of rare covers of translated editions of the novel. Past scholarship has turned to the manuscript of Anne of Green Gables to study part of the writing process of the novel—revealing such details as the fact that Montgomery considered “Laura” and “Gertrude” as the names of Anne’s bosom friend before settling on “Diana”—but this book marks the first time readers will be able to see that creative process for themselves.

Anne of Green Gables: The Original Manuscript will be launched at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Charlottetown on 1 August 2019.

Cover art for Imagining Anne: The Island Scrapbooks of L.M. Montgomery

Also from Nimbus Publishing is a paperback edition of Elizabeth Rollins Epperly’s Imagining Anne: The Island Scrapbooks of L.M. Montgomery, first published in hardcover in 2008 as part of Penguin Canada’s 100 Years of Anne celebration. This book features beautiful reproductions of key pages from two of Montgomery’s PEI scrapbooks on which she pasted a wide range of ephemera in order to create a visual archive for her creative process. In her commentary, Epperly suggests linkages between the individual items, the stories they tell in Montgomery’s arrangement of them on the page, and the way that they inspired key moments in Anne of Green Gables. As the back cover rightly proclaims, this book offers readers “a revealing look inside the mind of one of the most cherished writers of the twentieth century.”

The new edition of Imagining Anne will be launched at UPEI’s Robertson Library in Charlottetown on 25 July 2019.

Cover art for L.M. Montgomery's Complete Journals: The Ontario Years, 1930-1933

Finally, Rock’s Mills Press has published L.M. Montgomery’s Complete Journals: The Ontario Years, 1930–1933, the fifth volume of Montgomery’s unabridged Ontario journals prepared by Jen Rubio. This volume contains all diary entries dated 1930 to 1933, at the height of the Great Depression, at which point Montgomery and her family were living in Norval, Ontario. These were difficult years for her, especially due to a revelation made by one of her sons that distressed her so much that she was unable to write full diary entries for almost three years. Like Epperly’s Imagining Anne, this book offers readers “a revealing look inside the mind of one of the most cherished writers of the twentieth century,” but for very different reasons – it showcases the private anguish of a woman who, acutely aware of societal expectations, turned to her journal as a safe outlet for her worries and secrets, but her increased awareness of these journals as a document that she wanted to be published after her death also constrained her ability to be completely honest in this record of her life.

In addition to these three books, a number of recent journal articles and book chapters have been pushing the conversation about Montgomery’s life, work, and legacy in exciting new ways:

  • Elizabeth Rollins Epperly, “Reading Time: L.M. Montgomery and the ‘Alembic of Fiction’” (in Journal of L.M. Montgomery Studies)
  • Irene Gammel, “‘We Are the Dead’: Rhetoric, Community and the Making of John McCrae’s Iconic War Poem” (in First World War Studies)
  • Caroline E. Jones, “Idylls of Play: L.M. Montgomery’s Child-Worlds” (in Children’s Play in Literature: Investigating the Strengths and the Subversions of the Playing Child)
  • Vappu Kannas, “‘Emily Equals Childhood and Youth and First Love’: Finnish Readers and L.M. Montgomery’s Anne and Emily Books” (in Reading Today)
  • Laura Leden, “Girls’ Classics and Constraints in Translation: A Case Study of Purifying Adaptation in the Swedish Translation of L.M. Montgomery’s Emily of New Moon” (in Barnboken)
  • Jane Nicholas, “The Children’s Séance: Child Death, the Body, and Grief in Interwar Ontario” (in The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth)
  • Christopher Parkes, “Anne Is Angry: Female Beauty and the Transformative Power of Cruelty in L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables” (in Cruel Children in Popular Texts and Cultures)
  • Julie A. Sellers, “‘A Good Imagination Gone Wrong’: Reading Anne of Green Gables as a Quixotic Novel” (in Journal of L.M. Montgomery Studies)
  • Rob Shields, “Lifelong Sorrow: Settler Affect, State and Trauma at Anne of Green Gables” (in Settler Colonial Studies)
  • Emily Stokes-Rees, “Re-thinking Anne: Representing Japanese Culture at a Quintessentially Canadian Site” (in Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change)
  • Janet Wesselius, “Anne’s Body Has a Mind (and Soul) of Its Own: Embodiment and the Cartesian Legacy in Anne of Green Gables” (in The Embodied Child: Readings in Children’s Literature and Culture)

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!

Latest Scholarship on L.M. Montgomery

A number of new contributions to the field of L.M. Montgomery Studies have appeared over the last few months, in addition to Rita Bode and Lesley D. Clement’s collection of essays L.M. Montgomery’s Rainbow Valleys: The Ontario Years, 1911–1942, and I wanted to take a moment to highlight them.

The Oxford Handbook of Canadian LiteratureThe Oxford Handbook of Canadian Literature, edited by Cynthia Sugars, has just been published by Oxford University Press. Montgomery is mentioned in detail in book chapters on a variety of topics—including disability, women’s writing, children’s literature, gay and lesbian writing, auto/biography, Atlantic Canadian literature, the short story, and post-Confederation nationalism—by Tracy Ware, Carole Gerson, Alexander MacLeod, Tony Tremblay, Julie Rak, Deirdre Baker, Cecily Devereux, Terry Goldie and Lee Frew, and Sally Chivers.

In December 2015, the online journal The Looking Glass: New Perspectives on Children’s Literature published a special issue on L.M. Montgomery. It includes paratexts by Caroline Jones and Carolyn Strom Collins as well as articles by Yoshiko Akamatsu, Vappu Kannas, Lauren Makrancy, Laura Leden, and Shea Keats.

In addition, several more journal articles have appeared elsewhere in the last few months, by Sarah Galletly (in British Journal of Canadian Studies), Carol L. Beran (in American Review of Canadian Studies), Gabrielle Owen (in Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures), and Kelly Blewett (in The Lion and the Unicorn).

Also in December 2015, Vappu Kannas successfully defended her Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Helsinki in Finland. Entitled “‘The Forlorn Heroine of a Terribly Sad Life Story’: Romance in the Journals of L.M. Montgomery,” the dissertation is available for download. Congratulations, Dr. Kannas!

And just yesterday, the L.M. Montgomery Literary Society published the 2015 issue of its newsletter, The Shining Scroll. This issue is filled with fascinating articles and news by Mary Beth Cavert, Carolyn Strom Collins, Christy Woster, Gwen Layton, and Linda Boutilier.

Happy reading!

The Shining Scroll, 2014 Issue, Available Now!

The L.M. Montgomery Literary Society of Minnesota has recently announced the publication of the 2014 issue of its online newsletter, The Shining Scroll. As with previous issues, this one is filled with all the latest news and discoveries as well as original scholarship and personal essays. Congratulations to all the contributors and especially to its dedicated editors, Mary Beth Cavert and Carolyn Strom Collins!

On a related note, I have finally started the process of compiling a bibliography of items appearing in The Shining Scroll, starting with the issues from the most recent five years and eventually working back to its first issue, along with newsletter items published elsewhere. Updates have also been made recently to the list of  book-length biographies, book-length extensions, and abridgements/rewrites of Montgomery’s texts.