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Year in Review: 2007

On 10 February 2007, I posted a blog message welcoming users to a website then known as L.M. Montgomery Research Group, co-chaired by Jason Nolan, me, and Yuka Kajihara: “This is a space where we’ll be adding updates and announcements about everything L.M. Montgomery.”

In thirty-nine additional posts published by the end of that year (three by Jason, the remainder by me), this website reported on several events that occurred or were announced throughout 2007. Thanks to Mary Beth Cavert and Elizabeth Macleod for bringing some of these items to our attention.

Books, Scholarship, and Print Culture

On March 3, I posted a message from Yuka sharing the news of the recent death of Doris Anderson, editor of Chatelaine magazine from 1957 to 1977, whom Yuka had met in 1998, at the 90th birthday party for Mollie Gillen (author of the 1975 biography The Wheel of Things, which was an expansion of an article published in Chatelaine in 1973):

Mollie often told me that because Doris asked her to write an article on LMM, Mollie started to read LMM’s books and that eventually Mollie located the now famous bunch of letters written by LMM to Mr Macmillan in Scotland. [. . .]

So, Mollie’s article on LMM appeared in such a popular magazine and received high praise from the readers. Based on the short article, Mollie developed a biography of LMM, The Wheel of Things, which was published in 1975. [. . .]

If Doris didn’t pay attention to LMM in the 70s, Mollie would not have thought about writing the biography, let alone reading LMM’s books. I learned a life of LMM through The Wheel of Things.

Cover of EMILY OF NEW MOON, by L.M. Montgomery, with an afterword by Alice Munro. It consists of a pair of scissors and a lock of black hair against a green background.

Additional blog posts announced recent and forthcoming publications by/about L.M. Montgomery, in some cases providing cover art as well:

  • New editions of Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon as part of McClelland and Stewart’s New Canadian Library series, the former first published in 1992 with an afterword by Margaret Atwood (and due out in late January 2008), the latter first published in 1989 with an afterword by Alice Munro (and due out on 4 December 2007)
  • Three new books (and a companion website) from Penguin Canada’s 100 Years of Anne initiative, to be released early in 2008: a new edition of Anne of Green Gables with the original cover (erroneously announced as consisting of the original text), a prequel novel by Budge Wilson entitled Before Green Gables, and Elizabeth Rollins Epperly’s Imagining Anne: The Island Scrapbooks of L.M. Montgomery
  • Elizabeth MacLeod’s biography Lucy Maud Montgomery (Kids Can Press, 2008)
  • Irene Gammel’s book-length study Looking for Anne: How Lucy Maud Montgomery Dreamed Up a Literary Classic (Key Porter Books, 2008), announced in Quill and Quire as Looking for Anne: The Life and Times of Anne of Green Gables
  • Jean Mitchell’s collection of essays Storm and Dissonance: L.M. Montgomery and Conflict (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008)
  • Elizabeth Rollins Epperly’s Through Lover’s Lane: L.M. Montgomery’s Photography and Visual Imagination (University of Toronto Press, 2007)
  • Jane Urquhart’s L.M. Montgomery, a contribution to the Extraordinary Canadians series (Penguin Canada, 2009)
  • Lynn Manuel’s picture book The Summer of the Marco Polo (Orca Book Publishers, 2007)
  • Marion Hoffmann’s The Anne of Green Gables Puzzle Book (Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 2007)
  • Deirdre Kessler’s abridgement Anne of Green Gables: Stories for Young People (Nimbus Publishing, 2008), a reissue of Kessler’s A Child’s Anne (1983)
  • Monika B. Hilder’s chapter “Imagining the Ultimate Kindred Spirit: The Feminist Theological Vision of L.M. Montgomery,” in Feminist Theology with a Canadian Accent: Canadian Perspectives on Contextual Feminist Theology (Novalis Publishing, 2008).
  • Kate Lawson’s article “The Victorian Sickroom in L.M. Montgomery’s The Blue Castle and Emily’s Quest: Sentimental Fiction and the Selling of Dreams” (in The Lion and the Unicorn)
  • Ann F. Howey’s article “Reading Elaine: Marjorie Richardson’s and L.M. Montgomery’s Red-Haired Lily Maids” (in Children’s Literature Association Quarterly)

Stage and Screen

Early in the year, Yuka shared the news that an anime series based on Emily of New Moon was in production for the NHK educational television network in Japan. The series, called Kaze no Shōjo Emily, would consist of 26 episodes of 25 minutes each. More information can be found on the Anime News Network website.

Asked if there were plans to dub the series into English, Yuka responded:

Last year, four of the animation staff came to visit me at the Osborne. They said that they are planning to sell the broadcast right to foreign countries. Japanese animations are quite popular in south eastern countries and European countries too. So it must happen sooner or later. But I didn’t find out when.

Professor Akamatsu, has been much more active consulting on thep roject, so perhaps she will know when it gets translated before I do. But nothing’s clear at the moment.

Later in the spring, Sullivan Entertainment issued a press release announcing that Kevin Sullivan would write, produce, and direct Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning, a prequel to its 1985 miniseries. Later posts shared additional information as it was released, beginning with a three-month, nationwide casting call for a new actor to play Anne prior to her arrival at Green Gables. As Elizabeth Withey noted in an Edmonton Journal article entitled “Green Gables Creators Search for Anne” and published on July 25,

Filmmaker Kevin Sullivan wrote [an] original story about Anne Shirley’s childhood life before she went to live with the Cuthberts on Prince Edward Island. Sullivan’s story predates the events in Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery’s novel.

Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning will tell the story of Anne’s biological family and how she ended up in an orphanage.

The mystery will unfold when Anne finds a secret letter in the floorboards at Green Gables more than 50 years after she went to live there.

The film is set at the turn of the 20th century but is bookended by scenes of Anne as a woman in her sixties. In the story, her husband Gilbert died at the end of World War Two and her three children are far away, pre-occupied with families of their own. Anne has almost completely lost touch with her adopted son, Dominic, who is living in France.

Sullivan Entertainment will travel to seven Canadian cities to conduct auditions for girl between the ages of 10 to 12.

They are also conducting an extensive casting call on YouTube at www.youtube.com/group/screentest.

On 16 October, an article on the CTV website announced that not only would A New Beginning, a three-hour movie, air on that network in 2008, but also, it had acquired Sullivan Entertainment’s “entire Anne catalogue.”

“To say that we are excited about bringing the Anne of Green Gables franchise to CTV would be an understatement! . . . Ivan Fecan and I created the ‘Avonlea/Family Hour’ franchise on CBC in the early 90s and together we made it into one of Canada’s most successful weekly television events.” —Kevin Sullivan, president of Sullivan Entertainment

“Anne of Green Gables is an enduring and endearing worldwide franchise. . . . We welcome Anne with great respect and look forward to the world premiere of ‘A New Beginning’ on CTV.” —Susanne Boyce, President, Creative, Content and Channels, CTV Inc.

On 23 October, Jason shared a Toronto Star article that announced that Shirley MacLaine had joined the cast of A New Beginning as matriarch Amelia Thomas, “a wealthy, powerful and unlikable widow who runs the prosperous lumber town [of] Marysville, N.B.” and whose “miserable temperament is transformed for the better by imaginative and playful Anne Shirley.”

As part of its acquisition of the entire Sullivan/Montgomery back catalogue, CTV rebroadcast An Avonlea Christmas, which first aired in 1998 as Happy Christmas Miss King, on Sunday, December 16. This two-hour telefilm depicts the events of the King family two-and-a-half years after the final episode of Road to Avonlea.

On April 6, I shared Matthew Murray’s recent review, on the website Talkin’ Broadway, of a new stage adaptation of Anne of Green Gables, adapted by Gretchen Cryer (book and lyrics) and Nancy Ford (music).

On 31 July, CBC News reported that the musical production Anne and Gilbert had “gone green”—in other words, that producer Campbell Webster had “purchased just over $300 in carbon credits to help offset fuel and other energy usage during staging of the theatre production, and ease the effects on the environment.”

On 12 August, I noted the recent publication of a one-page article in the August issue of Famous, a magazine that circulated at giant movie theatres across Canada, that profiled Martha MacIsaac, who, almost a decade after playing the leading role in the television series Emily of New Moon (1998–1999, 2002–2003), would appear in the film Superbad, which opened later that month.

On 13 August, CBC News published an article announcing the recent death of Elaine Campbell, co-creator of Anne of Green Gables: The Musical.

Around the Web

On 17 March, Jason posted on his Flickr account “some photos I took while Yuka and I went on an L.M. Montgomery walking tour of Swansea” in Toronto. He added, “Shirley Lum, our guide, did a wonderful job of contextualizing what LMM said about the area with local history.”

On 6 April, Jason posted news about the Six String Nation, “a movement to connect people from all regions of Canada through music and by sharing our icons, images and stories,” specifically its “Six String Nation guitar,” “made of more than 60 pieces that are significant aspects of history or culture from across the country.” A media kit circulated by the organization includes the following information about PEI:

Cavendish Wood from Lucy Maud Montgomery’s family house & post office. Many “Green Gables” pilgrims to PEI confuse the author, Lucy Maud Montgomery, with her fictional “Anne.” Lucy Maud was born on the same day as Winston Churchill and raised by her maternal grandparents, Alexander Marquis Macneill and Lucy Woolner Macneill in Cavendish. They were postmasters of the town. Maud as she was known worked in the office—often intercepting her own publishers rejection notices of her early pre-Anne of Green Gables stories before the town got wind. This is a piece of wood from that house/post office.

“Of course,” Jason added, quoting Montgomery’s journal entry dated 23 April 1920, “Yuka wonders where the wood came from, since the house was taken down around 1920.”

On 13 July, a CBC News article announced the recent reopening of Rainbow Valley amusement park in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island.

On 5 August, the L.M. Montgomery Land Trust announced its upcoming fundraising event called The Great Big Cornboil, “to be held Sunday, August 19th from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Cavendish Boardwalk in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island. There will be live entertainment, and plenty of corn on the boil. All are welcome and encouraged to attend.”

On 29 August, a website called The Daily Bastardette published a blog entry entitled “Ban Anne of Green Gables: Harmful to Adoptees!”

Looking Ahead: Anne of Green Gables Centenary

This year was also significant in terms of the many projects and initiatives being planned for the centenary of Anne of Green Gables in 2008, in print and on screen, within academia and for the general public.

To that end, on August 6, I posted a call for papers for “Anne of Green Gables: New Directions at 100,” organized by Irene Gammel and me as a session of the 2008 conference of the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English. This panel would become the starting point for our 2010 collection of essays, Anne’s World: A New Century of Anne of Green Gables:

This member-organized session of the 2008 ACCUTE conference at the University of British Columbia welcomes proposals for papers that will coincide with the centennial anniversary of the publication of an important Canadian literary classic, Anne of Green Gables (1908), and with a national exhibition Looking for Anne: Tracing Visual Culture and L.M. Montgomery’s Creative Imagination.

The organizers are interested in proposals related to any aspect of Montgomery’s text, its cultural production, its reception history, and its cultural inspirations. Innovative approaches including interdisciplinary perspectives that make us see Anne and the world of Avonlea in new ways are particularly encouraged.