The Blythes Are Quoted

Twenty Nineteen in Review

Last July, I blogged about three books that had just been published – Anne of Green Gables: The Original Manuscript, edited by Carolyn Strom Collins; a new edition of Imagining Anne: The Island Scrapbooks of L.M. Montgomery, by Elizabeth Rollins Epperly; and L.M. Montgomery’s Complete Journals: The Ontario Years, 1930–1933, edited by Jen Rubio – as well as some journal articles and book chapters that had appeared in the first half of 2019. What I’d like to do now is highlight some of the remaining books, adaptations, and items of scholarship that have appeared during the last year, all of which demonstrate that there’s always something new to learn and appreciate about L.M. Montgomery.

There’s also been a lot of work going on behind the scenes here at L.M. Montgomery Online. As I mentioned in a blog post last September, I’ve been reorganizing and streamlining the information on this website to make it more manageable. When I started this website (as L.M. Montgomery Research Group) back in 2007, I wanted to showcase all contributors to L.M. Montgomery studies, and accordingly, I created stand-alone pages for every author, every periodical, every major book, and every actor in a screen adaptation of Montgomery’s work. As a result, this website became so large that I couldn’t make back-ups of it anymore, so this year I decided to eliminate pages for periodicals and to list actors, writers, and directors of screen adaptations on single pages (in the case of actors, listed alphabetically by surname with one page for each letter of the alphabet). Doing so has brought the website down to a more reasonable size, which has enabled me to start featuring lists of Montgomery’s periodical pieces.

Cover art for A WORLD OF SONGS: SELECTED POEMS, 1894–1921, by L.M. Montgomery, edited by Benjamin Lefebvre

I mention all this to explain why it’s taken me this long to announce formally on this blog the publication of A World of Songs: Selected Poems, 1894–1921, the second volume in The L.M. Montgomery Library, which University of Toronto Press published last January. I wanted to wait until I’d finished the overhaul of my lists of Montgomery’s periodical pieces, and that ended up taking much longer than I’d anticipated (and I still haven’t finished adding all the essays by Montgomery that appear in Volume 1 of The L.M. Montgomery Reader). Users of this website can now browse lists of items whose full texts appear in my books – poems by title, by date, and by first line; miscellaneous pieces by date; an index of periodical titles; and a list of Montgomery’s alternate signatures – with more items to be added as new volumes are published.

A World of Songs consists of a selection of fifty poems – roughly 10% of Montgomery’s total output – published over a quarter of a century, starting when she was a student at Prince of Wales College in Charlottetown. In my afterword, I talk about Montgomery’s poems in terms of “the competing forces of literary reputation, reader recognition, financial profit, and enduring literary quality” and attempt to position this work against poems by some of her contemporaries, including Duncan Campbell Scott, Bliss Carman, and Isabella Valancy Crawford. It’s meant to be a companion of sorts to The Blythes Are Quoted, which features forty-one of Montgomery’s poems, most of which were first published in magazines from 1919 onward. It will be followed by a much larger volume of all of Montgomery’s poems, something that I’ve been working on for several years already.

Although several new trade editions of Montgomery’s books appeared in 2019, the year was also notable for the appearance of three new biographies of Montgomery, two of them for very young readers. In 2018, María Isabel Sánchez Vegara published a picture-b0ok biography for the Little People, Big Dreams series (whose books tell the story of several prominent women, including Frida Kahlo, Ella Fitzgerald, Coco Chanel, and Marie Curie). This past August, Sánchez Vegara published Lucy Maud: My First L.M. Montgomery, a board-book version of her biography with a simplified text in order to “introduce your baby to Canada’s favorite author.” (I especially appreciated an image showing Montgomery’s newspaper column, signed Cynthia, which I collected last year in A Name for Herself: Selected Writings, 1891–1917.) Sarah Howden also published a short biography for HarperCollins’s I Can Read! series, whereas a revised edition of Stan Sauerwein’s 2004 biography for the Amazing Stories series appeared as Lucy Maud Montgomery: Canada’s Literary Treasure, published by Formac Publishing Company.

Also for young children are two more volumes in Kelly Hill’s series of Anne-related concept books from Tundra Books: Anne’s Feelings and Anne’s Alphabet, which follow Anne’s Colors and Anne’s Letters from 2018. Also from Tundra this past year is Kallie George’s Anne’s Kindred Spirits, a second abridgement for children of Anne of Green Gables, following 2018’s Anne Arrives, republished in paperback in 2019.

In terms of scholarship, December 2019 saw the publication of Wendy Roy’s book-length study The Next Instalment: Serials, Sequels, and Adaptations of Nellie L. McClung, L.M. Montgomery, and Mazo de la Roche, published by Wilfrid Laurier University Press. Roy’s book promises to become a major contribution to the field, not only because it focuses on the largely unexplored topic of serial publication, but also because it places Montgomery firmly alongside two of her contemporaries within Canadian literary studies.

Here’s a list of journal articles, book chapters, and reviews on L.M. Montgomery’s work that were published in 2019 (including a trio of articles on Swedish translations in Barnboken: Journal of Children’s Literature Research), in addition to those I mentioned in my blog post from last July:

  • Holly Blackford, “Unattached Women Raising Cain: Spinsters Touching Orphans in Anne of Green Gables and Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” in South: A Scholarly Journal
  • Claire Campbell, review of L.M. Montgomery and the Matter of Nature(s), in American Review of Canadian Studies
  • Frederika A. Eilers, “Making Green Gables Anne’s Home: Rural Landscapes and Ordinary Homes of Canadian Fiction and Film,” in Our Rural Selves: Memory and the Visual in Canadian Childhoods
  • Faye Hammill, review of A Name for Herself: Selected Writings, 1891–1917, in Times Literary Supplement
  • Victoria Kennedy, “Haunted by the Lady Novelist: Metafictional Anxieties about Women’s Writing from Northanger Abbey to The Carrie Diaries,” in Women: A Cultural Review
  • Andrea McKenzie, review of L.M. Montgomery and the Matter of Nature(s), in The Lion and the Unicorn
  • Claudia Mills, “Trying to Be Good (with Bad Results): The WouldbegoodsBetsy-Tacy and Tib, and Ivy and Bean: Bound to Be Bad,” in Children’s Literature
  • David Myles, “‘Anne Goes Rogue for Abortion Rights!’: Hashtag Feminism and the Polyphonic Nature of Activist Discourse,” in New Media and Society
  • Cornelia Rémi, “From Green Gables to Grönkulla: The Metamorphoses of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables and Its Various Swedish Translations,” in Barnboken: Journal of Children’s Literature Research
  • Jennifer Scott, review of A Name for Herself: Selected Writings, 1891–1917, in Victorian Periodicals Review
  • Åsa Warnqvist, “‘Don’t Be Too Upset with Your Unchivalrous Publisher’: Translator–Publisher Interactions in the Swedish Translations of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne and Emily Books,” in Barnboken: Journal of Children’s Literature Research

The 2018 annual volume of The Shining Scroll, the official publication of the L.M. Montgomery Literary Society (Minnesota), appeared early in 2019, featuring articles and news by Mary Beth Cavert, Carolyn Strom Collins, and Sandra Wagner. Be sure to download this newsletter if you don’t know it already. I look forward to reading the 2019 edition!

Twenty nineteen was also the year that the third – and ultimately the last – season of Anne with an “E” aired on CBC television. I was really disappointed to learn of the series’ cancellation, not only because I thought the show overall was excellent, but also because of the point at which it stops. The third season was released worldwide (except Canada) on Netflix just last Friday, so I don’t want to go into too much detail for viewers who haven’t finished it yet, but I was disappointed by what the networks decided was a suitable way to end a young woman’s story, given that the creators evidently hadn’t intended to end the story there. In spite of a petition and a flurry of positive responses on social media, it looks unlikely at this point that the series will be continued beyond the twenty-seven episodes already produced, which is a real shame. Although the television series departed in many ways from the book, it clearly struck a chord with viewers all over the world, much like how readers have responded to Montgomery’s writing for more than a century.

As for me, 2019 has been a busy year in terms of future volumes of The L.M. Montgomery Library. After completing the bulk of the work on the first of several chronological volumes of Montgomery’s short stories, I ended up deciding, in consultation with my editor, to move a few things around and to present this aspect of her work in a new way, with the result that I’ve spent six months working on three volumes simultaneously. One reason this has taken longer than anticipated is that I’ve been searching for a multi-chapter serial entitled “The Luck of the Tremaynes,” which Montgomery published in the January and February 1907 issues of The American Home of Waterville, Maine. I’ve searched through every digital repository I can think of and contacted libraries, collectors, and booksellers, and so far I haven’t had any luck. (I’ve come close a few times, though—a microfilm that claimed to have the full run of the issue ended at 1906, whereas copies of other 1907 issues are currently available on eBay.) In the off chance that you have a copy or have a suggestion of someone who might, please contact me. In the meantime, watch this space for news about future volumes in the series!

I guess that’s it. I look forward to seeing what 2020 will bring!

The Blythes Are Quoted on Jeopardy!

Jeopardy! card, with all-caps white text against a royal blue background. The text reads: "This character gets one last story in 'The Blythes Are Quoted', published after Lucy Maud Montgomery Died."
Title card from episode of Jeopardy! airing on 11 December 2018

A few weeks ago, I was thrilled when someone alerted me to the fact that L.M. Montgomery’s rediscovered final book, The Blythes Are Quoted, had been featured on a recent episode of Jeopardy!. It made my day, especially since neither the original 2009 edition or the 2018 Penguin Modern Classics Edition has been available outside Canada. The episode was posted to YouTube shortly after it aired, but unfortunately, it’s no longer available.

The Blythes Are Quoted: Penguin Modern Classics Edition Now Available

Cover art for The Blythes Are Quoted: Penguin Modern Classics EditionHappy book birthday to the Penguin Modern Classics Edition of L.M. Montgomery’s rediscovered final book, The Blythes Are Quoted! Completed by Montgomery shortly before her death in 1942 as a final sequel to Anne of Green Gables and first published in its entirety in 2009, this book features a blend of short fiction, poetry, and vignettes that shows the contrast between the dynamics between Anne and her family members and how they’re perceived by outsiders. Divided in two parts, one set before and one after the Great War of 1914–1918, the book consists of Montgomery’s final word about a number of preoccupations in her earlier books, including war, family, romance, and childhood.

This edition includes the full text of the 2009 edition, along with an updated introduction and suggestions for further reading by me and an updated afterword by Elizabeth Rollins Epperly. It is available primarily across Canada, but it can be ordered through Amazon.ca and Chapters.Indigo.ca, both of which ship worldwide.

“[T]his re-acquaintance with the voice of L.M. Montgomery is marvellously satisfying … Lefebvre’s patient and meticulous scholarship has resulted in this fascinating volume, a gift to insatiable followers of Anne Shirley’s story.”
Aritha van Herk, The Globe and Mail

Three New Books This Month and Three More Coming Soon

Three exciting new L.M. Montgomery-related books have been published throughout the month of May, with three more appearing shortly. Together, these six books showcase the wide reach of Montgomery’s literary and cultural legacy more than seventy-five years after her death.
Cover art for L.M. Montgomery and the Matter of Nature(s)L.M. Montgomery's Complete Journals: The Ontario Years, 1922-1925

Cover art for House of Dreams: The Life of L.M. Montgomery, by Liz RosenbergCover art for The Diary of Charles Macneill, Farmer, 1892–1896Cover art for The Blythes Are Quoted: Penguin Modern Classics Edition
Coming up in June is Liz Rosenberg’s middle-grade biography, House of Dreams: The L.M. Montgomery (Candlewick Press), as well as The Diary of Charles Macneill, Farmer, 1892–1896 (Rock’s Mills Press), the full text of a diary by a distant relative of L.M. Montgomery that she transcribed in full and commented on extensively in her own journal in 1925, with a preface by Jen Rubio. Finally, in early July, Penguin Canada will publish a new Penguin Modern Classics Edition of Montgomery’s rediscovered final book, The Blythes Are Quoted, with a revised introduction by Benjamin Lefebvre and a revised afterword by Elizabeth Rollins Epperly.

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!

The Blythes Are Quoted to Join Penguin Modern Classics Series

The Blythes Are Quoted (Viking Canada, 2009)I’m thrilled to announce that my edition of L.M. Montgomery’s rediscovered final book, The Blythes Are Quoted, which Penguin Canada published in 2009, will be republished in October 2017 as part of the Penguin Canada Modern Classics imprint! It can be pre-ordered through the Penguin Random House Canada website and through all book vendors.

Given that 2017 marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of Montgomery’s death, and given that the typescript for the book was apparently delivered to her publisher the very day of her death (which was interpreted by her family as a suicide), I am especially pleased that the book will be released again during this anniversary year.

More details about this new edition, including cover art, will be published here as soon as they’re available!

30 November 1874

L.M. Montgomery in her early forties, 1917
L.M. Montgomery in her early forties, 1917

Today, on what would have been L.M. Montgomery’s 141st birthday (she was born on 30 November 1874), I would like to share with you an extract from a journal entry dated exactly 101 years ago, on the occasion of Montgomery’s fortieth birthday:

Once I thought forty must be the end of everything. But it isn’t! I don’t feel any older today than yesterday—when I was only 39! Or the day before yesterday when I was—19! Thank God we don’t feel old. Life is much richer, fuller, happier, more comfortable for me now than it was when I was twenty. I have won the success I resolved to win twenty years ago. It is worth the struggle—but I would not wish to be twenty again with the struggle still before me.

Poster for L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, produced by Breakthrough Entertainment
Poster for L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, produced by Breakthrough Entertainment

Montgomery is trending on the Internet as I write this, due in large part to several Google Doodles paying tribute to Anne of Green Gables. And as Melanie J. Fishbane has pointed out in a blog post published earlier this afternoon, this is an exciting time for Montgomery and especially for Anne, thanks to the upcoming new telefilm version of Anne of Green Gables, a shout-out about the novel in a recent episode of The Simpsons, and numerous celebrity mentions. A list of “Five Fast Facts You Need to Know” about Montgomery was also published today, on the website Heavy, and mentions her rediscovered final book, The Blythes Are Quoted.

I’m glad, because all this media attention reflects the continued relevance and the persistent quality of Montgomery’s writing, not only as works of literature but also as the basis for an enduring popular culture icon and a set of new Anne texts for stage and screen. I’m looking forward to delving back into the novel Anne of Green Gables next term, when I  teach the book in an undergraduate children’s literature course at Wilfrid Laurier University, as an example of a crossover text that continues to appeal to both adults and children.

Remembrance Day Blogs: Rilla and Walter

Rilla of Ingleside (Penguin Canada, 2011)In honour of Remembrance Day, two recent blog entries have appeared discussing L.M. Montgomery’s depiction of the Great War in Rilla of Ingleside and The Blythes Are Quoted. First, Christine Chettle discusses Walter Blythe’s poems “The Piper” and “The Aftermath” on the website for the Centre for Canadian Studies at the University of Leeds:

Most famous for her tale of cheerful red-headed orphan Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery offers a more complicated view of the Canadian war experience. Like many of her contemporaries, the fiercely patriotic Montgomery viewed World War I as a struggle for liberty against a threat of evil from Kaiser’s Germany.

Next, Melanie Fishbane talks about Montgomery’s experience during the war in her fiction and her life writing on the Indigo website:

It is hard for us to imagine that one hundred years ago, the boys we grew up with, the men we may have worked with and our brothers, husbands and partners would have joined in the wake of that strong call to arms in the belief that Canada, as an English colony, was in real danger.  It is also hard to imagine, that many of those same men never came home.  If we consider Montgomery’s fictional world of Ingleside, as a representation of the different townships across Canada, than I think we will begin to understand the magnitude WWI (and subsequent wars) had on our nation’s history.

Anne of Prince Edward Island

Ania z Wyspy Ksiecia EdwardaIn a journal entry dated March 1910, Montgomery mentioned that she had recently received a copy of the Swedish translation of Anne of Green Gables, which she found “interesting as a curiosity,” not because of the translated text but because of the bizarre cover image and design. Today I had a somewhat similar experience after receiving my copies of Ania z Wyspy Księcia Edwarda, the Polish translation of The Blythes Are Quoted, which was published a few months ago in both hardcover and paperback by Wydawnictwo Literackie in Crakow. For me, the “curiosity” was not the cover image, since the Polish edition simply duplicated the cover of the original hardcover edition, but the advertising copy used to entice readers to buy the book.

Although Montgomery wasn’t able to comment on the translation of the Swedish translation of Anne of Green Gables because she spoke no Swedish, a reader today has fewer obstacles in this regard, thanks to Google Translate. So it’s remarkably easy to figure out that the title of the Polish edition is Anne of Prince Edward Island, which I actually prefer to the title of the Finnish edition, Anne’s Farewell. In contrast to the deliberately provocative first line of the jacket copy of the English-language edition – “Adultery, illegitimacy, revenge, murder, and death – these are not the first terms we associate with L.M. Montgomery” – the Polish edition takes a remarkably different tack.

The tag on the front cover translates as “Previously unpublished final volume of adventures / Anne of Green Gables,” which is fairly similar to “The rediscovered last work of L.M. Montgomery.” On the back cover, they add an almost identical tag (“Last, never previously published volume of adventures / Anne of Green Gables”) followed by the following blurb:

Lucy Maud Montgomery’s wishes were to close the book series about the most famous red-haired heroine of all time. The text provided to the publisher just before the death of the author had never appeared in its entirety. Its premiere in Canada in 2009 created a sensation in the publishing market and delighted readers.

And then, right below this, in a larger font: “Get to know the fate of Ani, Gilbert and their loved ones!”

Is this a better marketing tack? I really don’t know, but I notice that if you type in “Ania z Wyspy Księcia Edwarda” into Google, there are 810,000 hits, compared to 125,000 hits for “The Blythes Are Quoted.” What this indicates, however, is anybody’s guess.

Also, I’ve just been informed that the Kindle version of The Blythes Are Quoted is available again, but on Amazon.com only. I’m not sure why it’s available only there, but at least it can be ordered by Kindle readers all over the world. It’s also available as an e-book directly from Penguin Canada.