Detail from the cover of Elizabeth Waterston's /Magic Island: The Fictions of L.M. Montgomery/.

Year in Review: 2008

An overview of L.M. Montgomery-related events and publications from 2008, summarizing information previously released in seventy blog posts.


This year, the centenary of Anne of Green Gables prompted an unprecedented number of books, contributions to scholarship, academic and public events, adaptations, and discussions. I received so many email notices throughout the year that I entitled one blog post “Chronicles of My Inbox”—which inevitably led to a sequel post, “Further Chronicles of My Inbox.” Overall, the initiatives that occurred throughout the year gave people all over the world the opportunity to learn more about L.M. Montgomery’s life, work, and legacy, and (of equal importance) the opportunity to get together with each other for discussion and debate.

In seventy blog posts published throughout the year, I attempted to capture some of the highlights of this anniversary. I’m grateful to all the people who wrote to me to ensure I hadn’t missed something they’d come across: these include Eric Bungay, Cort Egan, Irene Gammel, Carole Gerson, Joshua Ginter, Yuka Kajihara, Michelle Levy, Lisa Lightbourn-Lay, Jason Nolan, Helen Salmon, and Chris Yordy.

New Versions of Older Texts

In a sense, a CBC News article that appeared on 8 October 2008, entitled “Writers Challenged to Update Wind in the Willows on Its 100th Birthday,” encapsulates the Anne- and Montgomery-related activities throughout this year:

The 100th anniversary of Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows will be celebrated with a competition to write a modern version of the children’s classic.

The River & Rowing Museum in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, in Britain has launched a writing competition that challenges authors to put a modern take on Grahame’s themes.

“Kenneth Grahame knew all about the power of the river on the imagination, and on our real lives,” museum representative Paul Mainds told BBC.

“This competition gives authors the opportunity to re-animate these themes and make them more relevant for today’s young readers, especially in light of the environmental issues that now affect our rivers and the wildlife that lives in and around them.”

Writers are challenged to pen a “river-related” short story “for our times.”

The museum, on the river Thames, has a permanent exhibition dedicated to Wind in the Willows.

Grahame’s tale of the adventures of Toad, Mole, Ratty and Badger was published Oct. 8, 1908, four months after he left his job at the Bank of England. . . .

When I blogged about this news article on November 7, I ended with the following: “The news of this competition made me wonder about Anne of Green Gables, which was published less than four months before Wind in the Willows. If there were a competition to write a modern version of this novel, how would it be done? What would need to be updated, changed, altered, or reemphasized?”

A reader named Holly wrote with her response to those questions:

I would hope that no one would ever try and update it…I cant believe they’re doing it with Wind in the Willows. What would Anne say? :> She’d cry sacrilege! To update them it would be a matter of changing some surface things; technologies, religious views, slang and gender roles. But doing that or anything else would be horrible. I believe that what has made the books so popular all these decades is their ‘Shakespearian’ truths. No matter what era they belong to, the books reflect human nature as it is. Comedy mixed up with tragedy…and let’s hope that will never change!

In a sense, this comment captures some of the fascinating ways that people all over the world frequently respond to new information, new insights, and new interpretations that clash with what they perceive a literary work or a character to be, to mean, to signify. This resistance speaks to the fierce attachment so many readers have to Anne of Green Gables.

Books, Scholarship, and Reviews

“100 Years of Anne” (Penguin Canada)

In February, Penguin Canada released three books as part of a major publishing campaign that they called “100 Years of Anne”: a hardcover edition with the original cover (featuring a note from Montgomery’s grandchildren David Macdonald and Kate Macdonald Butler), a prequel by Budge Wilson called Before Green Gables, and Elizabeth Rollins Epperly’s Imagining Anne: The Island Scrapbooks of L.M. Montgomery.

The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto hosted a celebration for this publishing milestone on Tuesday, 12 February 2008:

Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables was published in 1908. This special evening features Budge Wilson, award-winning author of Before Green Gables, and Dr. Elizabeth Epperly, one of the world’s foremost scholars of L.M. Montgomery and editor of Imagining Anne: The Island Scrapbooks of L.M. Montgomery. Kate Macdonald, Montgomery’s granddaughter will be in attendance. The evening will be introduced by the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson. Book signing follows.

The first two titles appeared simultaneously in the U.S. from G.P. Putnam’s Sons, whereas Before Green Gables likewise appeared in the UK. Still, occasional changes in chapter titles hint at minor differences in the texts of these three editions:

Chapter NumberTitle in Canadian editionTitle in U.S. editionTitle in UK edition
33New DirectionsOn the WayOn the Way
39An ExpeditionA JourneyA Journey
46Another Surprise VisitA Surprise VisitAnother Surprise Visit
70Mrs. SpencerMrs. Spencer ArrivesMrs. Spencer

The choice to rename chapter 33 as “On the Way” strikes me as curious, given that it matches the title of chapter 71.

Biographies, Book-Length Studies, and TV Tie-Ins

Cover of Magic Island: The Fictions of L.M. Montgomery, by Elizabeth Waterston, consisting of a painting of a bird looking out across a body of water at a few white houses in the distance.

White Knight Books published Don Harron’s Anne of Green Gables the Musical: 101 Things You Didn’t Know (first listed on as A Hundred Things You Didn’t Know about Anne of Green Gables, the Musical) in April.

Key Porter Books published Irene Gammel’s Looking for Anne: How Lucy Maud Montgomery Dreamed Up a Literary Classic in April, followed by a U.S. edition (as Looking for Anne of Green Gables: The Story of L.M. Montgomery and Her Literary Classic) by St. Martin’s Press in July.

Kids Can Press published Elizabeth MacLeod’s Lucy Maud Montgomery, a biography for young readers, as part of its Kids Can Read series.

Oxford University Press published Elizabeth Waterston’s book-length study Magic Island: The Fictions of L.M. Montgomery in June.

Doubleday Canada published Mary Henley Rubio’s long-awaited biography, Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings, in October.

Key Porter Books published Kevin Sullivan’s Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning, adapted from his screenplay, in October, several weeks before the premiere of his film of the same name on CTV in December. Sullivan Entertainment’s publishing house, Davenport Press, published tie-in editions of Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, and Anne of the Island with photographs from Sullivan miniseries as cover art; an audio CD of Anne of Green Gables, read by Kevin Sullivan; Anne of Green Gables: The Official Film Companion, adapted by Kevin Sullivan, and Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning; Official Movie Companion.

Canadian Children’s Literature / Littérature canadienne pour la jeunesse (Fall 2008)

The fall 2008 issue of Canadian Children’s Literature / Littérature candienne pour la jeunesse, published at the Centre for Research in Young People’s Texts and Cultures at the University of Winnipeg, includes several items about the life and work of L.M. Montgomery.

Margaret Mackey (University of Alberta), “Anne of Green Gables, Elijah of Buxton, and Margaret of Newfoundland” (7–29)

Kathleen A. Miller (University of Delaware), “Weaving a Tapestry of Beauty: Anne Shirley as Domestic Artist” (30–49)

Lindsey McMaster (Nipissing University), “The ‘Murray Look’: Trauma as Family Legacy in L.M. Montgomery’s Emily of New Moon Trilogy” (50–74)

Perry Nodelman (University of Winnipeg), “Rereading Anne of Green Gables in Anne of Ingleside: L.M. Montgomery’s Variations” (75–97)

The issue also contains an editorial by Perry Nodelman; a short article entitled “The L.M. Montgomery Collection at the University of Guelph” by Lorne BruceWayne Johnston, and Helen Salmon; and review articles by Carole Gerson and E. Holly Pike.

Articles and Reviews

The January–February issue of Quill and Quire contains an article by Megan Grittani-Livingston entitled “Anne Is in the Air: Penguin Ramps Up Major New Green Gables Campaign.” It also includes Sarah Ellis’s laudatory review of Wilson’s Before Green Gables, entitled “Channelling L.M.”

My review of Epperly’s Imagining Anne, Wilson’s Before Green Gables, and Gammel’s Looking for Anne, appeared in the Globe and Mail on 22 March as “Eternally Anne.”

Susan Lawrence’s review of Epperly’s Imagining Anne appeared in the April issue of Quill and Quire.

Meghan O’Rourke’s article “Anne of 100 Candles” appeared on Slate on 8 July.

Her temper and her gaffes provide fodder for those village members who dislike having a child of “uncertain parentage” around. Yet with time, Anne wins nearly everyone over, as her grace, curiosity, and haplessness catalyze the bloodless community. She enables adults to reconnect with the childish soul within.

Ramin Setoodeh’s article “It’s Still Not Easy Being Green: Anne of Green Gables Turns 100 This Year but She’s the Most Modern Girl in the Bookstores” appeared in the 28 July issue of Newsweek.

Irene Gammel’s review of Rubio’s Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings appeared in the Globe and Mail on 15 November as “The Fatal Disappointments of Lucy Maud.”

Scott MacDonald’s article “The Death of L.M. Montgomery” appeared in the December issue of Quill and Quire, which also includes Wilson’s Before Green Gables in its list of 15 Books of the Year.

Daphne Gordon’s “Anne of Green Gables Turns 100,” Bruce DeMara’s “The Once and Future Anne Shirley,” and Kelly Toughill’s “Gentle Island” appeared in the Toronto Star on 26 January.

Sarah Weinman’s “Anne’s Evergreen Gables” appeared in the Guardian on 4 February.

Conferences, Exhibits, and Events

Anne of Green Gables: A Literary Icon at 100

The “Anne of Green Gables: A Literary Icon at 100” exhibit curated by Irene Gammel was open to the public at Spadina Museum: Historic House and Gardens (285 Spadina Road) from February until September. The opening reception for the exhibit coincided with the book launch for Gammel’s Looking for Anne on 1 May 2008. Key Porter Books launched its own website devoted to Looking for Anne, which included a downloadable extract from the book, an interview with the author, little-known facts, and reviews.

Lecture at Sylvia Hotel in Vancouver (31 March 2008)

Carole Gerson, professor of English at Simon Fraser University, gave a talk entitled “One Hundred Years of Anne: Lucy Maud Montgomery.”

A Ryerson Showcase: The Centenary of Anne of Green Gables (Ryerson University, Heaslip House, 7 April 2008)

Organized by ASC 800 students at Ryerson University, this one-day event invited “proposals for 15-minute papers and creative pieces related to any aspect of this classic novel,” as stated in the call for proposals.

The range of topics is open and papers focusing on the novel’s interpretation, its composition, or its cultural significance, are all equally welcomed. Creative pieces can take the form of an imagined story, a performance, an installation, fashion design, or digital media: please provide low resolution samples where appropriate. Ryerson Press was the first Canadian publisher of Anne of Green Gables in 1942, and we are proud to host this event at Ryerson University on April 7, 2008.

The conference included a welcome message from Kate Macdonald Butler as well as presentations by Irene Gammel, Ann F. Howey, Helen Hoy, Benjamin Lefebvre, Elizabeth MacLeod, Leslie McGrath, Jason Nolan, Margaret Steffler, Judy Stoffman, Hildi Froese Tiessen, and Paul Tiessen. It also included contributions by several Ryerson students, including an installation of Anne merchandise (by Laura Brown), a construction of Anne’s puffed sleeves dress (by Katelyn van Massenhoven), research findings about Anne cover artist Hilton Hassell (by Mandy Wilson), and a creative performance by Jessica Frey as Anne Shirley.

Jason Nolan posted several photos from the event.

Anne in the Archives (Alumni-in-Action Annual Spring Luncheon, University of Guelph, 21 May 2008)

On 21 May, Mary Henley Rubio gave a lecture entitled “Anne in the Archives” at the annual spring luncheon of Alumni-in-Action at the University of Guelph’s arboretum. As the press release stated concerning the centenary of Anne of Green Gables, “We have great reason to celebrate at the University of Guelph. The McLaughlin Library is home to the largest archival collection of L.M. Montgomery personal archival material in the world.”

Anne of Green Gables: A Literary Icon at 100: Leading and Emerging Scholars Reflect on Anne of Green Gables in the Centenary Year (University of British Columbia Library, Irving Barber Learning Centre, 31 May 2008)

Chair: Irene Gammel (Ryerson University)

This round table of scholars is dedicated to taking stock of Canada’s most famous literary icon at its centenary anniversary, L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. What is behind the popularity of the novel? What is its current global value and status? What is its future in Canada and the world? Each speaker has five minutes to make a brief statement, which can be personal and scholarly, before we open to general discussion and audience question and answer.

Panelists included Deirdre Baker (University of Toronto), Cecily Devereux (University of Alberta), Janice Fiamengo (University of Ottawa), Irene Gammel (Ryerson University), Carole Gerson (Simon Fraser University), Benjamin Lefebvre (University of Alberta), Mavis Reimer (University of Winnipeg), and Margaret Steffler (Trent University).

Anne of Green Gables: New Directions at 100 (ACCUTE conference panel, UBC, 31 May 2008)

Organizers and chairs: Irene Gammel (Ryerson University) and Benjamin Lefebvre (University of Alberta)

Alexander MacLeod (Saint Mary’s University), “On the Road from Bright River: Shifting Social Space in Anne of Green Gables”

Jason Nolan (Ryerson University), “Anne of the Undead: Changeling Child and the Uncanny in Avonlea”

Alison Matthews David and Kimberly Wahl (Ryerson University), “Taste and Transformation: Negotiating Codes of Fashion in Avonlea”

Reflecting on Anne of Green Gables (Library and Archives Canada)

Reflecting on Anne of Green Gables, an exhibit co-curated by June Creelman and Irene Gammel, opened on 4 June 2008 at Library and Archives Canada (395 Wellington St., Ottawa), with plans to remain available until 1 March 2009. A Reuters article covering the exhibit offered more details.

Lectures and Exhibit at Toronto Public Library (September–December)

On 25 September, Mary Henley Rubio delivered the second annual Sybille Pantazzi memorial lecture at the Lillian H. Smith branch. Her lecture, entitled “In Search of My Subject: Writing the Biography of L.M. Montgomery,” anticipated the publication of Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings, by Doubleday Canada, in late October.

On 23 October, Deirdre Baker delivered the twenty-first Helen E. Stubbs memorial lecture at the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books. Her lecture, entitled “L.M. Montgomery at Her Finest and Funniest: How Montgomery Has Kept Us Laughing for a Hundred Years,” examined Montgomery’s humour to “show how its influence lives on and enlivens contemporary Canadian children’s books.”

The Toronto Public Library’s exhibit, entitled “Anne of Green Gables: Celebrating 100 Years in Print,” was open between 13 September and 5 December. It ranged “from formative books enjoyed by Montgomery in her lonely childhood through her own writings, and will include contemporary books that show the enduring influence of Anne.”

On 20 November, the Toronto Public Library hosted “All about Anne and Lucy Maud Montgomery,” a literary lunch that featured Irene Gammel and Elizabeth Rollins Epperly.

Green Gables to Globalization: Crossover, Canada and Children’s Books (iBbY Ireland, Church of Ireland College of Education, Dublin, 18 October 2008)

The main theme of the conference will examine ways in which children’s literature transcend boundaries of all kinds, focusing in particular on crossover fiction and a sense of belonging in books from Canada, a post-colonial, multiethnic society.

Irene Gammel (Ryerson University), “Looking for Anne of Green Gables: A Literary Icon at 100”

Return to Prince Edward Island: Anne of Green Gables at 100 (MLA Convention, San Francisco, 29 December 2008)

Chair: Michele Ann Abate (Hollins University)

Kathleen A. Miller (University of Delaware, Newark), “The Creation of the Family in Anne of Green Gables: Making Twenty-First Century Readers at Home in the Victorian”

Val Czerny (Florida Atlantic University), “A Return to the Wild; or, Long-Lasting, Mystical ‘Lunacy’ in Anne of Green Gables

Fiona Paton (State University of New York, New Paltz), “The Problem Novel Then and Now: Using Anne of Green Gables in the Contemporary Young-Adult Literature Class”

Irene Gammel (Ryerson University), “From Formula Fiction to Girls’ Classic: Anne of Green Gables, Fashion Magazines, and Sunday School Writing”

From Canada to the World: The Cultural Influence of Lucy Maud Montgomery (University of Guelph, 23–25 October 2008)

This symposium focused on the University of Guelph’s extensive archival collection of Montgomery materials and its plan to launch a collections website (no longer online).

The initial notice from Helen Salmon of the University of Guelph Library read as follows:

The university has undertaken an extensive digitization project to make its extensive collection of Montgomery memorabilia—including her private journals, scrapbooks, handiwork, photographs, and other records—more accessible to Montgomery scholars and fans everywhere. The symposium will offer the very first opportunity to explore the newly launched collections website, examine the archival collections first-hand, view an L.M. Montgomery exhibit at the University’s art gallery, and listen to speakers who will explore her impact on readers, writers, and women in the 20th century. Join with Canada’s foremost Montgomery scholars, biographers, enthusiasts, and fans to recognize her world-wide legacy and explore the mystery of her creativity. This four day weekend event will include coach tours to view several of L.M. Montgomery’s residences in Ontario, the opening of an art exhibit, film viewings, panel discussions, and scholarly presentations which will highlight author’s contributions to literary and popular culture.

The press release, which I shared on 6 October, reads as follows:

It’s been 100 years since Anne Shirley first peeked out of the pages of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. An immediate success, the book would become one of the most-read and best-loved stories in the world. A century later, the University of Guelph is hosting a conference that will celebrate Montgomery’s life and her influence on Canada and the world.

Running Oct. 23 to 25, “From Canada to the World: The Cultural Influence of Lucy Maud Montgomery” will bring some of this country’s foremost Montgomery scholars and biographers to campus. The conference will feature a unique combination of lectures, performances, films, music, tours and exhibitions.

“L.M. Montgomery has enchanted millions of readers around the world, but she also had a tremendous effect on other writers and helped shape Canadian culture,” said Sue Bennett, director of University and community relations and one of the conference organizers.

“The themes Montgomery wrote about so adeptly and vividly were often drawn from her own experiences,” added Bennett. “She led a very complex life, and here at U of G, we’ve been lucky enough to glimpse some of her experiences through our L.M. Montgomery Collection. So it’s very fitting that we are hosting this important event.”

U of G has the largest collection of Montgomery memorabilia in Canada, including her handwritten journals, scrapbooks, handiwork, photo albums, legal and business papers, letters and the Order of the British Empire medal she received in 1935. It also contains original typescripts of some of her works, including Rilla of Ingleside. Montgomery wrote 22 novels during her lifetime and kept extensive journals from the time she was 14.

Guelph has also long been the academic home to two of the most pre-eminent Montgomery experts in the world—retired English professors Mary Rubio and Elizabeth Waterston. In the 1980s, they were asked by Montgomery’s son, Dr. Stuart Macdonald, to edit his mother’s personal journals. The works were published in five volumes of The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery.

Rubio has also written a biography about Montgomery, The Gift of Wings, which will be in bookstores next month. On Oct. 25, she will read from the biography and talk about the process of writing it.

Waterston will also speak, discussing Rilla of Ingleside as one of the few women’s war novels about the First World War. She also has a new book about Montgomery coming out this fall, Magic Island. Each chapter discusses a different Montgomery book, and Waterston draws parallels between Montgomery’s internal “island”—her personal life, her professional career—and the characters in her novels.

Other Saturday speakers include chief librarian and CIO Mike Ridley, who will explain the importance of the Montgomery collection to the University. In addition, Helen Salmon, associate chief librarian, and Lorne Bruce, head of archives and special collections, will talk about the collection and launch the L.M. Montgomery research centre website, which includes digitized images of the collection that make it visible and easily accessible.

Saturday will also feature a luncheon based on recipes from Montgomery’s personal cookbook. Food writer Liz Driver will discuss the cookbook as an artifact.

That evening, U of G chancellor Pamela Wallin will give a keynote address to conference participants.

Other conference highlights include a film screening and panel discussion at The Bookshelf Oct. 23 at 7 p.m.

The film screening and panel discussion, entitled “Takes on Maud,” centred on two short films by Atlantis Films: I Know a Secret (based on a short story by Montgomery) and Boys and Girls (based on a short story by Alice Munro and featuring Megan Follows in the lead role). Panelists included Elizabeth Waterston, professor emerita of English at the University of Guelph; Paul Salmon of the School of English and Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph, and “film historian Benjamin Lefebvre of the University of Alberta,” according to the conference website.

15th Annual Montgomery Christmas (Norval, Ontario, 29 November 2008)

This event consisted a day of activities, including a visit to church bazaars at Norval Presbyterian Church, Norval United Church, and St. Paul’s Anglican Church; an event with Mary Rubio at the L.M. Montgomery Museum at Crawford’s Village Bakeshop; a re-creation of the 1919 Anne of Green Gables film, with Linda Jackson-Hutton and Jack Hutton, at St. Paul’s Parish Hall; and papers by Benjamin Lefebvre, Irene Gammel, and Edith Smith at the Norval Presbyterian Church.

Beyond Green Gables (NeMLA, Boston, 27 February 2009)

Chair: Rita Bode (Trent University)

Kate Scarth (Memorial University), “Taking the Country to the City: Redefining ‘Home’ in L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of the Island

Christiana R. Salah (University of Connecticut), “Bonds of Sea and Land: The Prehensile Places of L.M. Montgomery’s Fiction”

Trisha Tucker (University of Southern California), “L.M. Montgomery and the Curious Child”

Anne Ramirez (Neumann College), “Anne Shirley and Ellen Montgomery: Imagining a Wider World”

The Death of L.M. Montgomery

On 20 September 2008, I shared the news that an article entitled “The Heartbreaking Truth about Anne’s Creator,” written by Kate Macdonald Butler (Montgomery’s granddaughter), had appeared in that day’s Globe and Mail (pp. F1, F6):

Despite her great success, it is known that she suffered from depression, that she was isolated, sad and filled with worry and dread for much of her life. But our family has never spoken publicly about the extent of her illness.

What has never been revealed is that L.M. Montgomery took her own life at the age of 67 through a drug overdose.

Four days later, on 24 October 2008, an article on the front page of the Globe and Mail entitled “Is This Lucy Maud’s Suicide Note?” reproduced the text of the scrap of paper found on Montgomery’s bedside the afternoon she died:

This copy is unfinished and never will be. It is in a terrible state because I made it when I had begun to suffer my terrible breakdown of 1940. It must end here. If any publishers wish to publish extracts from it under the terms of my will they must stop here. The tenth volume can never be copied and must not be made public during my lifetime. Parts of it are too terrible and would hurt people. I have lost my mind by spells and I do not dare think what I may do in those spells. May God forgive me and I hope everyone else will forgive me even if they cannot understand. My position is too awful to endure and nobody realizes it. What an end to a life in which I tried always to do my best.

A follow-up article by James Adams entitled “Lucy Maud Suffered ‘Unbearable Psychological Pain’” includes extracts from an email interview with Mary Henley Rubio. Rubio’s biography, Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings, scheduled for publication the next month by Doubleday Canada but ended up appearing three weeks ahead of schedule.

Calls for Papers

L.M. Montgomery—Writer of the World (conference, Uppsala University, Sweden, 20–23 August 2009)

Conference coordinators: Gabriella Åhmansson and Åsa Warnqvist

L.M. Montgomery’s world famous novel Anne of Green Gables has continued to attract readers from all over the world for a century. Our centenary conference is a tribute to all of those who have made 100 years of readership possible.

The main theme of the conference is “Reading Response.” We will explore reading experiences of Anne of Green Gables and other works by L.M. Montgomery. One section will be dedicated to Anne of Green Gables in Sweden. We also accept open proposals for papers on Montgomery’s works.

We invite you to send in one-page proposals for papers, together with a short biographical note.

L.M. Montgomery and the Matter of Nature (conference, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, June 2010)

In 2010 we invite you to consider L.M. Montgomery and the matter of nature. While multiple romanticisms have informed L.M. Montgomery’s passionate views of nature, her descriptions were complex as she wrote both of and for nature. What are the effects of the representations and images of nature that are crafted and circulated in the fiction of Montgomery, and in that of other writers of literature (especially for children and youth)? How do her narrations of nature shape children and adults within and across cultures? How do seasonality and place function in her life writing? And how do particular constructions of nature work in fiction, across such differences as gender, race, culture, and class? What are the cultural and historical contingencies surrounding nature in Montgomery’s work?

In recent years, the matter of “nature” itself has been the subject of much-contested debate and theoretical innovation across disciplines. Nature situates binary relationships that are often represented as hierarchical and oppositional. These include nature and culture, child and adult, animal and human, male and female, reason and emotion, mind and body, modern and traditional, raw and cooked, domestic and wild, urban and rural—among others. How might any of these formulations be examined and challenged (or not) in the context of Montgomery’s work? What does it mean to consider Montgomery as a “green” writer (Doody) or as a proto-ecofeminist (Holmes)? What do Montgomery’s provocative readings of nature offer us at a time of environmental crises and ecological preoccupations?

Please send one-page abstracts and short biographical sketches by June 30, 2009, to: L.M. Montgomery Institute, University of Prince Edward Island, 550 University Avenue, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4P3 Canada. Email:

Anne of Green Gables: New Directions at 100 (collection of essays)

Since its first publication in 1908, L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of  Green Gables has enjoyed a remarkable success with a worldwide following of readers and an energetic scholarly engagement over the past two decades. As the novel enters the second centennial of its publication, the University of Toronto Press is interested in publishing a collection of scholarly essays dedicated to the topic Anne of Green Gables: New Directions. The editors are interested in papers related to any aspect of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne, including its inspirations, its sequels, and its cultural impact. Innovative approaches including interdisciplinary perspectives that make us see Anne and the world of Avonlea in new ways are particularly encouraged. Papers should engage with relevant scholarship, and should be written in lively and accessible prose. Illustrations and formerly unpublished material are particularly welcomed. Twenty-five-page papers including all endnotes and bibliography should be accompanied by a bio-sketch and abstract.

Submission format requirements: Papers should be double-spaced throughout, using Times New Roman 12-point font, with all notes at the end, and a separate file for the works cited. All files should be in Microsoft Word format. File names should follow this principle: lastname-paper (e.g., smith-paper) and lastname-bib (e.g., smith-bib) for the works cited. Submitters should also submit a well formulated 100-word abstract (lastname-abstract) and a 50-word bio-sketch (lastname-bio). Deadline: August 15, 2008. Early submissions are encouraged.

The Idea of “Classic” (collection of essays)

The L.M. Montgomery Institute is seeking submissions for a proposed publication to be based on the theme of “classic” as discussed at the eighth biennial international Montgomery conference, “L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables and the Idea of ‘Classic.’”

Submission deadline is 1 September 2008, but early submission is encouraged. Questions concerning the publication may be directed to the L.M. Montgomery Institute.

Centenary Events in Japan

On 8 June, this website published the following information, provided by Yuka Kajihara: “Whether you are aware or not, there are numerous of Anne-related events happening in Japan! Recently I was asked to provide a resource on this matter by a journalist from Canwest News Service and I made a brief list.”

Hanako Muraoka

Because the first translator of Anne of Green Gables was Hanako Muraoka (1893–1968), there is no way to talk about Anne without her.

Muraoka once worked for Tokyo publisher Kyobunkan, established by Methodist missionaries from the USA in 1885. This is the place Muraoka first met Canadian missionary Miss Loretta L. Shaw. In 1939, before leaving Japan due to the WWII, Shaw gave a copy of Anne of Green Gables to Muraoka as a keepsake. Kyobunkan is now having special events to celebrate Hanako’s work and Anne’s 100th anniversary.

Nowadays, the name of Hanako Muraoka (poet, translator, children’s writer, radio personality) is popular only because of her translation of the Anne series.

The International Institute for Children’s Literature in Osaka, Japan will hold an exhibition entitled “Hanako Muraoka and Akage no An” between May and July.

Anne’s Cradle, a biography of Hanako Muraoka written by her granddaughter Eri Muraoka, will appear in June 2008.

A newly revised edition of Akage no An (translated by Hanako Muraoka and revised by Mie Muraoka, another grand-daughter of Hanako’s) will be published by Shinchosha. In this edition, Mie added the portions that Hanako had omitted to translate for some unknown reason.

Akage no An and the Work of Hanako Muraoka,” Nalnia Hall, Kyobunkan, Tokyo (21 June to 16 July). This exhibition focuses on Muraoka’s work and displays books translated by her, including those by L.M. Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, and Eleanor Porter, alongside photographs of PEI taken by well known photographer Kazutoshi Yoshimura.

Eri Muraoka Gallery Talk at Narnia Hall, Kyobunkan, Tokyo (June 29). Eri’s talk is entitled (loosely translated) “The Very First Akage no An: A Promise to Miss Shaw, Editor of Kyobunkan.”

Other Events

The nationwide exhibition entitled “Anne of Green Gables: L.M. Montgomery’s Beloved PEI” starts in June and runs till June 2009. The display includes Magog (from Robert Montgomery), a few pages of the manuscript, LMM’s crazy quilt, and more.

In June, Shinchosha published a Japanese translation of Budge Wilson’s Before Green Gables, entitled Hello Anne.

Nippon Hoso Kyokai (NHK) broadcast a special program called “Welcome to the Anne’s World” in January. This one show was rebroadcast 2 more times due to popular demand. It includes a letter by [Montgomery’s granddaughter] Luella [Veijalainen] and some photographs of Luella with the letter that Jason took. One of Luella’s pictures is of lover’s lane given to her by LMM and the other is a picture of Luella as a baby being held by LMM. Some of you might find it funny that we actually took these photos in a sushi bar in Yorkville. Luella’s favourite place.

NHK also broadcast a three-month long (from April to June) English conversation program “The Journey to Akage no An.” I heard that the textbook of this program has sold more than 130,000 copies so far! Anne is not only a gateway to learn PEI but also to learn English to Japanese audience. The staff visited PEI last summer.

There are many other Anne-related things happening in Japan: smaller production size of musicals, another exhibitions of Anne and many other publications. A scholarly book on Anne to which I contributed will be published soon. A short biography of L.M. Montgomery for juvenile readers by Miki Okuda appeared in March. And Nippon Animation sells a boxed set of DVD entitled “Akage no An: The DVD Memorial Box.”

Stage and Screen

Echo Bridge Home Entertainment released Emily of New Moon: The Complete First Season on DVD on 9 September.

Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning, a telefilm written and directed by Kevin Sullivan, had its world premiere at the 2008 Boston Film Festival on Monday, 15 September 2008. The synopsis on their schedule reads as follows:

Kevin Sullivan’s original story explores the unwritten origins of the iconic character, Anne of Green Gables, as Anne finds a secret letter in the floorboards of Green Gables, almost 50 years after she arrived on Prince Edward Island, that reveals her troubled family history.

The 141-minute film, which stars Barbara Hershey, Hannah Endicott-Douglas, Rachel Blanchard, and Shirley MacLaine, aired on CTV on 14 December. A press release from Sullivan Entertainment included a detailed synopsis:

It is 1945 and Anne Shirley (Academy-award nominee and Golden Globe winner, Barbara Hershey) now a successful, middle-aged writer has returned to Prince Edward Island for an extended visit. On a whim, she agrees to write a play for a theatre producer. The play, she reasons, will keep her busy—at least busy enough to not go out of her mind with worry about her only son who has yet to return from the war overseas. But a long-hidden secret in the form of a letter from her errant father, discovered under the floorboards at Green Gables, provides a distraction of its own. As Anne struggles to complete the play, she delves into long-buried memories, reliving the troubled years before she arrived as an orphan at the Green Gables farmhouse. She is forced to confront the fact that she made up stories about her life; after her mother died and when her father deserted his young daughter. During that time, Young Anne (newcomer Hannah Endicott-Douglas), is taken into the care of a wealthy matriarch, Amelia Thomas (Academy-award winner Shirley MacLaine) and her daughter-in-law, Louisa (Rachel Blanchard), which changes her life forever.

Over the course of one remarkable summer, Anne Shirley discovers the astonishing truth about her father, the origins of her quest for “kindred spirits” and the roots of her brilliant, magical imagination.

Around the Web

The University of Guelph Library launched a searchable digital collection of L.M. Montgomery’s photographs, available through the Our Ontario portal.

On 13 January 2008, a news article entitled “Website Not a Kindred Spirit, Says Anne Authority,” appeared on the website for CBC News:

The P.E.I. government is investigating a new website for young girls that it says is using images of Anne of Green Gables without permission.

Called, the Toronto-based website says it is “inspired by the much-loved Anne Of Green Gables novels.” Aimed at girls aged six to 14, it claims to be the most secure website for children in the world. It requires a fingerprint reader and registration papers signed by a professional as recognized by the company running the site.

But it is not the company’s security protocol that caught the attention of the Anne of Green Gables Licensing Authority. Anne is a trademark owned by the government of Prince Edward Island, and Development Minister Richard Brown told CBC News on Thursday they take violations of that trademark seriously.

“We’re pursuing this quite vigorously,” said Brown, who visited the website and noted many references to and images of Anne.

“Anne of Green Gables is a trademark of Prince Edward Island, and we’re going to protect that trademark.”

The Anne Authority, which is jointly owned by the province and the heirs of author L. M. Montgomery, was established to ensure only a wholesome image of Anne is reflected in products it licenses. The authority says they haven’t given permission to

Emily Want, spokeswoman for, said she approached the Montgomery heirs for permission to use Anne images, but the family was not interested in her request. Want said she’ll wait to hear from the Anne Authority before she decides her next move.

The web site features a certain redheaded girl in pigtails.

The web site features a certain redheaded girl in pigtails.

In February, I shared the sad news about the recent death of Elizabeth Mawson, who had played Marilla Cuthbert in Anne of Green Gables: The Musical at the Confederation Centre for the Arts in Charlottetown between 1971 and 2003, at the age of 81.

On May 28, an article entitled “New Theatre Festival Takes Root in L.M. Montgomery’s Avonlea” appeared on the website for CBC News:

A new theatre festival soon to begin in Cavendish, P.E.I., will present a suite of plays dating from the lifetime of Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of Anne of Green Gables.

The Island community, already a mecca for Anne lovers from around the world, is beginning the new summer theatre festival in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the publication of Anne of Green Gables.

Duncan McIntosh, a director of theatre, opera and special events, is the artistic director.

He plans a season based on playwrights who inspired L.M. Montgomery, who lived from 1874 to 1942, or whose works were influenced by the writer.

The first season will include:

  • The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, dating from 1908, in a new adaptation by McIntosh.
  • The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, first performed 1895.
  • Village Wooing by George Bernard Shaw, written in 1933.

Previews begin June 20 with the season to run from June 27 to Aug. 31. Anne of Green Gables was first published on June 20, 1908.

A 200-seat theatre has been created in the Church at Avonlea Village, a church built in 1872 and moved from its original location in Long River.

“It was a church that Montgomery attended, that she dreamed and hoped and prayed and imagined her immortal stories in, this church,” McIntosh told CBC News.

“And we as a community of Cavendish thought this was a perfect place to make our contribution to the celebration of the 100th anniversary.”

McIntosh, who directed the dedication ceremonies of Canada’s war memorial in Vimy, France, also directed the world premiere of Anne and Gilbert, a spinoff of the long-running Anne musical in Charlottetown.

He is a past artistic director of the Charlottetown Festival, the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton and Theatre Plus in Toronto, and has been a resident director at the Canadian Film Centre and the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto.

Next, on 31 May 2008, I shared that the Société Radio-Canada program Les arts et les autres would interview me (in French) about the centenary of Anne of Green Gables:

I will be interviewed by Line Boily on her radio show Les arts et les autres on Monday, 2 June 2008, at 1:05 EST, on Radio-Canada 1 (French-language CBC). The topic is Anne of Green Gables and I will be commenting on its origins, its continued international popularity in the centenary year, and its success in adaptations such as movies, musicals, and tourist sites in Ontario and Prince Edward Island. Since I am presently in Vancouver attending Congress, I will be speaking to her from Studio C at CBC Vancouver.

Les arts et les autres is broadcast across Ontario; you can also listen to it live through the Radio-Canada website.

Je serai l’invité de Line Boily à l’émission de radio Les arts et les autres ce lundi, 2 juin 2008, à 13h05 (heure normale de l’est), à Radio-Canada (première chaine). L’entrevue porte sur le roman Anne . . . La Maison aux pignons verts : ses origines, sa popularité internationale continue pendant l’année de son centième anniversaire, et son succès dans les médias connexes, telles que le petit écran, la comédie musicale, et le site touristique en Ontario et à l’Île-du-Prince-Édouard. Étant donné que je suis présentement à Vancouver pour assister au Congrès des sciences humaines, je lui parlerai du Studio C à Radio-Canada Vancouver.

L’émission est diffusée à travers l’Ontario; vous pouvez également écouter à l’émission au site web de Radio-Canada.

On 27 June, I shared an extract from a recent CBC News article about a break-in at the Lucy Maud Montgomery Birthplace in New London, Prince Edward Island:

The New London home where Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables, was born was broken into on Monday night.

The incident was part of a string of break and enters in the area that night.

The board that runs the museum and bookstore says none of the displays were damaged, and money isn’t kept in the facility overnight.

Montgomery was born in 1874 in a small white and green house, which sits at the corner of Route 6 and 20. A replica of the writer’s wedding dress and scrapbooks containing stories and poems are displayed at the museum.

On 26 July, I posted that Jack Zipes, who wrote the introduction to a recent Modern Library edition of Anne of Green Gables, and Jennifer Holm, a two-time Newbery Honor recipient, had appeared on American University Radio’s Diane Rehm Show on 23 July 2008 to talk about the centenary of the novel.

Late in the year, on 5 December, an article appeared on the website for CBC News concerning a first edition of Anne of Green Gables:

Christie’s in New York will auction a first edition of Anne of Green Gables on Friday morning.

The 1908 book by L. M. Montgomery, which spawned an entire industry on Prince Edward Island, including Canada’s longest running musical, is described on the auction house’s website as “the property of a lady.”

Several movie versions of the book have also been made.

First editions of Anne are rare. While it eventually became a worldwide phenomenon, published in at least 30 languages, the first run of the book was small.

The edition on sale Friday is described as unusual because it comes in a brown cover. Most of the first editions come in a green cover.

Christie’s expects the book to sell for between $8,000 US and $12,000 US, but in 2005 a green-covered first edition went for $24,000. At the time, that was the fifth first edition to go up for auction in 30 years.

This sale is part of an auction that includes 299 books and manuscripts.

The following day, an article entitled “Green Gables First Edition Sells for More Than $8,000” appeared in the Globe and Mail (6 December 2008, p. R14):

Green Gables first edition sells for more than $8,000 [Globe and Mail, 6 December 2008, R14]

Toronto—A rare first edition of the original 1908 Anne of Green Gables by Canada’s L.M. Montgomery sold at auction in New York yesterday for $8,125 (U.S.), including buyer’s premium. The clothbound edition, offered without the even-rarer dust jacket, went into bidding with a presale estimate of $8,000-$12,000.

What made the Christie’s consignment something of a rarity was its tan cover. Most first editions—it’s believed Montgomery’s Boston-based publisher printed no more than 7,000 copies in spring, 1908—have a green binding. The record for a first-edition Anne sold at auction is $24,000, set by Sotheby’s New York in 2005. That book was consigned by a collector in Victoria. (James Adams)

Our Anniversary

And finally, on 9 July, a blog post entitled “Our Anniversary” highlighted the fact that the L.M. Montgomery Research Group was celebrating its tenth anniversary that summer:

Jason and Yuka and I started the initial discussion list at the University of Toronto shortly after the Message in a Bottle conference at UPEI in June 1998. A decade later, with a membership of thirty-eight people from around the world, the discussion list continues to go strong, and we’re very pleased with the virtual community of scholars and researchers that has developed. And with the new LMMRG website, launched in 2006, we continue to explore new ways to disseminate research.

But with this milestone comes a significant change: Jason and Yuka are now stepping down as co-chairs of the LMMRG, after a decade of service. Jason is leaving to devote all his energies on a number of research projects in early childhood education at Ryerson University, and Yuka, Osborne Collections Assistant at the Toronto Public Library, will now join the advisory board. I want to thank Jason and Yuka publicly for everything they’ve done (and will continue to do) for this community, which would not exist without their tenacity and hard work. I also look forward to the next ten years of scholarly research.

Image Credit

The featured image on this page consists of a detail from the cover of Elizabeth Waterston’s book Magic Island: The Fictions of L.M. Montgomery, published by Oxford University Press in 2008. The painting, entitled “Northport Pier,” is by Anne Gallant of Kensington, PE.


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Your name and your contact information will be used solely for your subscription to this website and will not be shared with any third parties.