I’m very proud to announce the forthcoming publication, in spring 2022, of Twice upon a Time: Selected Stories, 1898–1939, the third volume in The L.M. Montgomery Library, a collection of L.M. Montgomery’s short stories that reveals how she revised her periodical fiction for her books, including Anne of Green Gables and its ever-popular sequels.
Although L.M. Montgomery (1874–1942) is best remembered for the twenty-two book-length works of fiction that she published in her lifetime, from Anne of Green Gables (1908) to Anne of Ingleside (1939), she also contributed some five hundred short stories and serials to a wide range of North American and British periodicals from 1895 to 1940. While most of these stories demonstrate her ability to produce material that would fit the mainstream periodical fiction market as it evolved across almost half a century, many of them also contain early incarnations of characters, storylines, conversations, and settings that she would rework for inclusion in her novels and collections of linked short stories.
In Twice upon a Time, the third volume in The L.M. Montgomery Library, Benjamin Lefebvre collects and discusses over two dozen stories from across Montgomery’s career as a short fiction writer, many of them available in book form for the first time. The volume offers a rare glimpse into Montgomery’s creative process in adapting her periodical work for her books, which continue to fascinate readers all over the world.
Andrea McKenzie and I are pleased to announce that starting on Monday, June 14, we will begin our next discussion on the L.M. Montgomery Readathon. When we launched this discussion group on Facebook in March 2020, near the beginning of the pandemic, we hoped that we might reach a few dozen interested participants readers, but as our discussion of our first book, Rilla of Ingleside, began to take shape, we were stunned when the amount of interested readers who wanted to join the group kept growing. Once we finished Rilla of Ingleside last June, we decided to keep the conversation going, first with Jane of Lantern Hill (July–September 2020) and later with The Blue Castle (September 2020–February 2021) and Chronicles of Avonlea (March–May 2021).
With the group now consisting of almost eight hundred members, we have selected Emily of New Moon as our fifth Readathon book, and starting Monday, we will work our way through each chapter week by week until the end of August. Once again, recordings of each chapter by group participants will be available on YouTube, and each chapter will be accompanied by discussion questions as well as posts about literary allusions, textual variants between the first edition and a widely circulated recent edition, book covers from around the world, as well as background information about fashion, technology, education, the natural world, and Montgomery’s life.
Emily of New Moon was published in 1923, fifteen years after the appearance of Anne of Green Gables, and it appeared two years after Rilla of Ingleside, which Montgomery had vowed would be the last book about Anne. The book reflects Montgomery’s renewed creative energy as she wrote it, not only because this was her first non-Anne book-length work of fiction in a decade but also because she had been wanting to write about this character for quite some time. And as a book focusing on a child writer, Emily of New Moon is a somewhat more autobiographical work than the Anne series. As Montgomery wrote to her penpal Ephraim Weber in 1921, “People were never right in saying I was ‘Anne’ but, in some respects, they will be right if they write me down as Emily.”
Along with its two sequels, Emily Climbs and Emily’s Quest, Emily of New Moon has been celebrated not only as a work of fiction of superior literary merit but also as a work of fiction that has inspired subsequent generations of writers. Alice Munro, Jane Urquhart, and P.K. Page wrote afterwords to New Canadian Library editions of the three books that appeared in 1989, and the three books are featured prominently in Arlene Perly Rae’s book Everybody’s Favourites: Canadians Talk about Books That Changed Their Lives (1997). Moreover, a television series based on Emily of New Moon and its sequels aired starting in the late 1990s and ran for four seasons, all of which can now be viewed on YouTube.
After a hiatus of a few months, we are pleased to return for our third Conversations about L.M. Montgomery event for 2021: Yuka Kajihara, a special collections librarian and a long-time contributor to L.M. Montgomery studies, will share with us many of the reading materials that had an impact on Montgomery’s early life and literary imagination, with a particular focus on items that are part of the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books at the Toronto Public Library.
This event will be held live on Zoom on Saturday, 22 May 2021, at 2:00 p.m. (EST). Registration is required; all interested persons are welcome to join us for this presentation and for discussion afterward, and a video of the presentation will be posted on YouTube at a later date. Hope to see you there!
This week the L.M. Montgomery Readathon—an interactive group that Andrea McKenzie and I curate on Facebook—began its discussion of our fourth Montgomery book, Chronicles of Avonlea, a volume of linked short stories. We have just surpassed 700 participants, people from all over the world who are rediscovering L.M. Montgomery’s works and seeking community during this time of global uncertainty. If you haven’t yet joined the conversation, please do!
Published in summer 1912, Chronicles of Avonlea is L.M. Montgomery’s fifth book, preceded by Anne of Green Gables (1908), Anne of Avonlea (1909), Kilmeny of the Orchard (1910), and The Story Girl (1911). All four of these books were bestsellers in Canada and the U.S., although Anne of Green Gables continued to be the strongest seller. Somewhat understandingly from his point of view, Montgomery’s publisher, L.C. Page, was keen to publish more Montgomery books, particularly ones that were linked to Anne and might approximate or even surpass the sales success of Montgomery’s first book.
Because Montgomery couldn’t write books fast enough to please her publisher and because she was reluctant to write a third Anne book because she wanted to resist the inevitable romantic conclusion, Page—who had already suggested that she postpone The Story Girl and expand a nine-chapter serial entitled “Una of the Garden” as the basis for Kilmeny of the Orchard—asked her to compile a volume of linked short stories set in the same geographical environment as Anne of Green Gables and to feature Anne whenever possible, thinking that such a volume would be seen as the next best thing to a new novel about Anne. By this point Montgomery had published hundreds of short stories in North American periodicals, so she looked through her scrapbooks to see which stories could be revised for this project and ended up sending close to thirty revised stories for Page for consideration.
The twelve stories that made the final cut were first published in a range of North American periodicals between 1904 and 1912 (only “Old Lady Lloyd” has not yet been found in its original incarnation). Here they are, in chronological order:
“Little Joscelyn.” The Christian Endeavor World (Boston), 1 September 1904, 988–89.
“The Hurrying of Ludovic.” The Canadian Magazine (Toronto), May 1905, 67–71.
“Aunt Olivia’s Beau.” The Designer (New York), June 1905, 196–200.
“Ol’ Man Reeves’ Girl.” The Farm and Fireside (Springfield, OH), 15 June 1905, 14–15. (Revised as “Old Man Shaw’s Girl.”)
“A Case of Atavism.” The Reader Magazine (Indianapolis), November 1905, 658–66. (Revised as “The Winning of Lucinda.”)
“Pa Rudge’s Purchase.” The Christian Endeavor World (Boston), 22 February 1906, 421–22. (Revised as “Pa Sloane’s Purchase.”)
“The Quarantine at Alexander Abraham’s.” Everybody’s Magazine (New York), April 1907, 495–503.
“The End of a Quarrel.” American Agriculturist (New York), 20 July 1907, 56, 58–59.
“The Courting of Prissy Strong.” The Housewife (New York), July 1909, 12–13.
“Miracle at Mayfield.” The Christian Endeavor World (Boston), 28 October 1909, 69–70. (Revised as “The Miracle at Carmody.”)
“Each in His Own Tongue.” The Delineator (New York), October 1910, 247, 324–28.
Still, although there’s no record of the process of selecting and arranging the stories in this volume (most of the remaining stories would appear in Further Chronicles of Avonlea in 1920, but that’s a story for another day), there are some clues in the first published edition that indicate that Page and/or Montgomery considered a few arrangements before they finalized the contents of the book.
First, although the title on the cover appears simply as Chronicles of Avonlea, the title page adds an explanatory subtitle that tries to solidify the connection between this book and the character for whom Montgomery was best known:
In which Anne Shirley of Green Gables and Avonlea plays some part, and which have to do with other personalities and events, including The Hurrying of Ludovic, Old Lady Lloyd, The Training of Felix, Little Joscelyn, The Winning of Lucinda, Old Man Shaw’s Girl, Aunt Olivia’s Beau, The Quarantine at Alexander Abraham’s, Pa Sloane’s Purchase, The Courting of Prissy Strong, The Miracle at Carmody, and finally The End of a Quarrel.
The order of the stories here is the same as what appears in the book, and the only difference is that “Each in His Own Tongue” is renamed “The Training of Felix”—perhaps this was Page’s suggestion, given that the story had originally been published as “Each in His Own Tongue.” But an ad for the book at the end of this edition reads quite differently, with many of the titles referring to stories that ultimately appeared in Further Chronicles:
In which Anne Shirley of Green Gables and Avonlea plays some part, and which have to do with other personalities and events, including The Purchase of Sloane, The Baby Which Came to Jane, The Mystery of Her Father’s Daughter and of Tannis of the Flats, The Promise of Lucy Ellen, The Beau and Aunt Olivia, The Deferment of Hester, and finally of The Hurrying of Ludovic.
Although we don’t know how involved Montgomery was in making this selection and arrangement, the final, published version was certainly a hit with reviewers and a strong seller with the general public. Although some reviewers still yearned for another novel with Anne as the protagonist, most of the reviews had high praise for Montgomery’s skill as a short story writer. Here are some representative samples from reviews of the time, all of which are included or excerpted in Volume 3 of The L.M. Montgomery Reader.
“In this volume the author establishes her right to be considered one of the best short story writers in our country.” —Oakland Tribune
“All the insight and charm of the Anne books, with the added grace of a more finished craftsmanship, render this an exceptional collection; and a few of the chapters will take very high rank in the short-story domain.” —Christian Science Monitor
“To say that one sketch was better than another would be to insinuate that the latter was not just as good as it possibly could be. Which would be insinuating something utterly untrue.” —Mail and Empire (Toronto)
“Avonlea might be any one of those home towns to which wandering sons and daughters hurry back for their summer holiday; a village where every little white house has its grass plot, flower beds and vegetable garden; where the air is sweet with rose odors in June and apples in September; an out-of-the way spot where quaint characters develop idiosyncrasies.” —The Publishers’ Weekly
“The charm of the author’s style was never more in evidence. The stories ‘tell themselves’ with a readiness and naturalness which is the perfection of literary skill. . . . These ‘Chronicles of Avonlea’ demonstrate anew the truth that simple, quiet lives may be full of romance and of tragedy, even if the latter be bloodless.” —Boston Times
“The author shows a wonderful knowledge of humanity, great insight and warm-heartedness in the manner in which some of the scenes are treated, and the sympathetic way the gentle peculiarities of the characters are brought out.” —Boston Globe
“Instinctively one feels that the men and women, the boys and girls, the very cats and dogs of her stories are human and real; and they remain not creatures of the imagination but actual friends whose pleasures we have shared, whose griefs we have borne, and whose good fortunes we rejoice over. The authoress, too, is not without a saving sense of humor that lends the quaint charm to her stories that mark their individuality.” —Saint John Globe
“The author has won a fine reputation as a depictor of child life, but it is a mistake to consider that she is limited to that life. Indeed her finest work is to be found wherein she gives us the relation of the child and the adult.” —Brooklyn Daily Eagle
“These chronicles are of the best work that Miss Montgomery has done. The characters are real, living people, full of human weaknesses and homely virtues.” —The Canadian Magazine
For our next Conversations about L.M. Montgomery event on Saturday, 13 February 2021 (the day before Valentine’s Day), we invite readers of L.M. Montgomery’s fiction to consider their favourite character pairs in her work: a romantic couple, a pair of friends, an adult and a young person, a pair of siblings, or two people in conflict. What is it about these relationships that are mutually supportive and enriching—or not? What is the secret to their bond, whether or not they are kindred spirits? And what motivates some characters to sacrifice personal relationships for the sake of something else, like higher education or an artistic practice?
We invite readers of Montgomery’s books to join us over Zoom for some informal discussion, beginning at 2:00 p.m. EST. Participants will be invite to share their ideas, read a key quotation, and reflect on the choices Montgomery made—and didn’t make—as she wrote her books. The event is free to all Montgomery readers, and advance registration is required. Please join us!
I’m pleased to let you all know that the first Conversations about L.M. Montgomery event for 2021 will be entitled “An Archive of Her Own: L.M. Montgomery’s Scrapbooks and Other Records” and will be held live over Zoom on Saturday, 30 January 2021, at 2:00 p.m. (EST). Carolyn Strom Collins, editor most recently of Anne of Green Gables: The Original Manuscript (2019), will discuss L.M. Montgomery’s Prince Edward Island scrapbooks, in which Montgomery preserved text and images from periodicals. As a form of personal archive, these scrapbooks offer us a fascinating window into the visual imagination that created works of fiction that continue to engage readers decades after their publication.
This event is open to everyone interested in Montgomery’s life, work, and legacy and will be followed by friendly discussion among participants.
This morning, while on our way to a socially distant walk in the woods with a few family members, my partner and I drove past a small grocery store whose outside sign read “Don’t worry. 2020 is almost over!”
That may certainly capture a larger societal feeling about the year that’s drawing to a close in less than an hour (at least in my time zone), and it may explain why I’ve been seeing fewer “best of” retrospective lists this month than I have in previous years (or maybe I’m just less inclined to notice them). Still, although 2020 has undeniably been difficult in so many ways, it’s worth looking back on this year in terms of new publications on L.M. Montgomery as well as looking ahead to projects that have already been announced for 2021. It’s also worth considering what anniversaries occurred this year and what they can remind us about the past, the present, and the future of Montgomery scholarship.
In looking back on this year, I’m reminded of the (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) comments Montgomery made as her alter ego, “Cynthia,” in the 30 December 1901 instalment of “Around the Table,” the newspaper column she published over a nine-month period in the Halifax Daily Echo (and whose text appears in its entirety for the first time in A Name for Herself).
The end of the year is, as a general thing, somewhat given over to retrospection. We like to overhaul our memories as well as our consciences, on New Year’s eve, as we sit before a dying fire – it must always be dying to be properly romantic – watching the Old Year out. We grow dreamy and sad and a wee bit sentimental. We recall the loves and hatreds, the pleasures and sorrows, the successes and failures of the past twelve months. We think of our flirtations, and wonder where the Toms, Dicks and Harrys are now, and if they have forgotten. We sigh softly, and quote scraps of poetry that occur to us as appropriate. In short, we get out Memory’s treasure-box and rummage among its motley contents. We have the vague regret that everyone experiences at the turning of a life page. Good or bad, earnest or frivolous, it is written and filed away in the archives of Eternity. We will never have a chance to correct its mistakes. Old Father Time has no proof-readers.
Then the clock strikes twelve and we open the door to let the Old Year go limping out and the New Year come joyously in. “The King is dead. Long live the King!”
This past month, I read through several items of scholarship that made good use of the extensive Alice Munro papers at the University of Calgary, and I was fascinated by the attempts of scholars to use surviving drafts, fragments, and correspondence in order to piece together Munro’s process of writing and revision, especially in terms of her collaboration with her agent and with various editors with whom she worked. I have to admit feeling envious of those scholars given the numerous gaps in Montgomery’s papers, especially pertaining to her short stories, poems, and miscellaneous pieces, which have been of particular interest to me over the last several years. Still, I’m very grateful for the Montgomery materials that do survive, including journals, letters, some manuscripts and typescripts, and scrapbooks. This year marks the sixtieth anniversary of the publication of The Green Gables Letters from L.M. Montgomery to Ephraim Weber, 1905–1909 (released in 1960) and the fortieth anniversary of the publication of My Dear Mr. M: Letters to G.B. MacMillan from L.M. Montgomery (released in 1980), two volumes that, along with the first reprinting in book form of her celebrity memoir “The Alpine Path” in 1974, showed readers for the first time that Montgomery’s life writing was just as fascinating as her fiction, and this has certainly been proven true with the publication of five volumes of Montgomery’s selected journals starting in 1985 and seven volumes to date of her unabridged journals starting in 2012.
This year also marks one hundred years since the publication of Further Chronicles of Avonlea (1920), an anniversary that highlights the importance of placing Montgomery’s work in its historical and literary (as well as biographical) context. While the vast amount of surviving life writing makes biographical readings of the primary work so tempting, it’s also worth paying attention to some of the broader external circumstances that shaped the words appearing on the page, at least as far as these can be pieced together through surviving documents. This collection of linked short stories is particularly fascinating as evidence of a battle of wills between Montgomery and her first publisher, L.C. Page, given that Page manipulated her into agreeing to its publication but ended up violating some of the terms of that agreement in ways that she felt did damage to her literary reputation, prompting her to fight him in court for eight years until the book was withdrawn from circulation. Further Chronicles formed part of the basis of the ever-popular television series Road to Avonlea (1990–1996), which celebrates its thirtieth anniversary this year, an anniversary that reminds us of Montgomery’s status as an enduringly popular author whose fan base includes consumers of adaptations in addition to readers of her books.
In terms of publications, 2020 began and ended with The Shining Scroll, the annual newsletter of the L.M. Montgomery Literary Society of Minnesota that’s edited by Mary Beth Cavert and Carolyn Strom Collins, two longtime contributors to the field of Montgomery studies. Its 2019 edition, released in January, and its 2020 edition, released just a few days ago, are filled with news items and original research on topics as varied as the centenary of the 1919 silent film adaptation of Anne of Green Gables, the handwritten manuscript of Anne, heritage and tourist sites in Prince Edward Island, and some newly discovered postcards that Montgomery sent to her Scottish pen pal, G.B. MacMillan.
This year also saw the publication of a number of trade books, including Kallie George’s picture book If I Couldn’t Be Anne (which follows Goodnight, Anne, released in 2018), Brooke Jorden’s abridgement of Anne of Green Gables for the Lit for Little Hands series published by Familius, Crystal S. Chan’s manga adaptation of Anne of Green Gables for Manga Classics, Josée Ouimet’s biography of Montgomery (one of the only secondary sources about Montgomery to appear in French) for the Bonjour l’histoire series, and Rachel Dodge’s The Anne of Green Gables Devotional: A Chapter-by-Chapter Companion for Kindred Spirits.
Book-length scholarship this year included Katja Lee’s Limelight: Canadian Women and the Rise of Celebrity Autobiography, which places Montgomery in conversation with fellow Canadian women including Nellie L. McClung, Margaret Trudeau, and Shania Twain, and a new paperback edition of my three-volume critical anthology The L.M. Montgomery Reader, with Volume 1 consisting of essays by and interviews with Montgomery along with commentary on her work throughout her career as a novelist, Volume 2 narrating her critical reputation in the decades since her death, and Volume 3 turning to the book review as a largely overlooked repository of critical discussion.
In addition, this year saw the publication of a wide number of book chapters, journal articles, and reviews focusing on topics such as environmental history, correspondence, spirituality, adaptation, the archive, translations, and fan fiction, including some work dated 2019 but that was released or that I came across this past year:
Claire E. Campbell, “‘A Window Looking Seaward’: Finding Environmental History in the Writing of L.M. Montgomery,” in The Greater Gulf: Essays on the Environmental History of the Gulf of St. Lawrence
Mary Beth Cavert, “L.M. Montgomery’s Letters to Scotland: Reading between the Lines” and “L.M. Montgomery’s Picture Postcards to George Boyd MacMillan 1904–1941,” in Journal of L.M. Montgomery Studies
Brenton D.G. Dickieson, “C.S. Lewis’s Theory of Sehnsucht and L.M. Montgomery’s Flash: Vocation and the Niminous,” in The Faithful Imagination: Papers from the 2018 Frances White Ewbank Colloquium on C.S. Lewis & Friends, Taylor University
Brenton D.G. Dickieson, “Rainbow Valley as Embodied Heaven: Initial Explorations into L.M. Montgomery’s Spirituality in Fiction,” in Journal of L.M. Montgomery Studies
Jennifer Douglas, “Letting Grief Move Me: Thinking through the Affective Dimensions of Personal Recordkeeping,” in Moving Archives
Piotr Oczko, “The Green Gables Utopia: On the Novel by Lucy Maud Montgomery,” in Wieloglos
Dorota Pielorz, “Does Each Generation Have Its Own Ania? Canonical and Polemical Polish Translations of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables,” in Negotiating Translation and Transcreation of Children’s Literature: From Alice to the Moomins
E. Holly Pike, “Reading the Book as Object and Thing in L.M. Montgomery’s Emily Series,” in Journal of L.M. Montgomery Studies
Heather Thomson, “On Reading L.M. Montgomery’s Essays,” in Journal of L.M. Montgomery Studies
Bonnie J. Tulloch, “Canadian ‘Anne-Girl[s]’: Literary Descendents of Montgomery’s Redheaded Heroine,” in Journal of L.M. Montgomery Studies
What’s been announced for 2021? So far, quite a bit! Two new print adaptations will be released in the spring: Brina Starler’s Anne of Manhattan (William Morrow), which is billed as “a romantic, charming, and hilarious modern adaptation” of Anne of Green Gables that depicts Anne’s experiences as a graduate student in present-day New York City, and Louise Michalos’s Marilla before Anne (Nimbus Publishing), which focuses on eighteen-year-old Marilla’s coming of age, set in Avonlea and Halifax. Nimbus Publishing will also release Eri Muraoka’s Anne’s Cradle: The Life and Works of Hanako Muraoka, Japanese Translator of Anne of Green Gables, translated by Cathy Hirano, this spring, which promises to add considerably to our understanding of the international circulation of Montgomery’s work. In addition to Kallie George’s third Anne picture book, Merry Christmas, Anne, Tundra Books will release Anne’s School Days, the third of George’s abridgements of Anne of Green Gables, following Anne Arrives (2018) and Anne’s Kindred Spirits (2019).
And speaking of abridgements, New York’s Starry Forest Books plans to release three abridgements of Anne of Green Gables this spring, each part of a separate series of abridgements of classic works of literature and targeting a specific age range: a Baby’s Classics abridgement by Alex Fabrizio (24 pp.), a Classic Stories abridgement by Saviour Pirotta (40 pp.), and a Classic Adventures abridgement by Jacqueline Dembar Greene (64 pp.). Each of these series will place Anne alongside new abridgements of many other classic works of literature by authors ranging from Alcott and Baum to Shakespeare and the Brothers Grimm.
I’d like to end this post by recalling the words of Captain Jim in Anne’s House of Dreams, after he and his guests, as Cynthia describes in “Around the Table,” open the lighthouse door to welcome in the new year as the clock strikes twelve. “I wish you all the best year of your lives, mates. I reckon that whatever the New Year brings us will be the best the Great Captain has for us – and somehow or other we’ll all make port in a good harbour.”
There’s a lot of uncertainty about what the world will experience in 2021, but, like Captain Jim, I remain hopeful that “somehow or other we’ll all make port in a good harbour.” And in the meantime, there is always something new to discover about L.M. Montgomery.
So far 96 people have written our new L.M. Montgomery trivia contest, which is far more than we were expecting, so thank you all for playing! Just a reminder that at this afternoon’s Conversations about L.M. Montgomery event (at 2:00 p.m. EST on Zoom) we will reveal the answers to the quiz and have a bonus round for four finalists. This is our final event for 2020, but we are planning several more events for 2021. Please join us if you can! Registration is required.
Thanks to all of you who joined us for our second instalment in our Conversations about L.M. Montgomery initiative, a round table discussion of Rilla of Ingleside, on Zoom earlier this month. That conversation has now been archived on YouTube. I’m pleased to announce our third and final instalment for 2020, which is a trivia contest that opens today, coinciding with the anniversary of L.M. Montgomery’s birth. Participants are invited to complete the quiz on their own time and to join us over Zoom on Saturday, December 12, at 2:00 p.m. (EST) to find out the answers and to watch a bonus round for attendees with the highest scores. Break a leg!
I just received a notification email telling me that University of Toronto Press is offering free shipping, in Canada and the United States, on all its orders between now and the end of this Sunday, November 29. Since UTP has published a number of books by or about L.M. Montgomery over the years, and given that these books are substantially discounted on their website, this is the perfect time for readers to complete their collections!
Among the books available are the first two volumes of The L.M. Montgomery Library and the three volumes of The L.M. Montgomery Reader, which are still available in hardcover as well as the paperback editions released earlier this year. I was also pleased to see that paperback copies of Mary Quayle Innis’s The Clear Spirit: Twenty Canadian Women and Their Times (1966), which includes Elizabeth Waterston’s chapter on Montgomery that is widely acknowledged as the starting point of L.M. Montgomery studies, are still available.
I decided to take advantage of this sale myself, and I ordered two books that will certainly come in handy as I continue my work of preparing all of L.M. Montgomery’s short stories and poems for book publication: T.K. Pratt’s Dictionary of Prince Edward Island English (1996) and T.K. Pratt and Scott Burke’s Prince Edward Island Sayings (1998). I look forward to reading these!