An article on the front page of this morning’s Globe and Mail–“Is this Lucy Maud’s suicide note?”-reproduces the following 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.
It is accompanied by a follow-up article by James Adams, “Lucy Maud suffered ‘unbearable psychological pain,'” which includes extracts from an e-mail interview with Mary Henley Rubio, whose biography of Montgomery, Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings, will be published next month by Doubleday Canada.
Thanks to Joshua Ginter of the Centre for Research in Young People’s Texts and Cultures, University of Winnipeg, for bringing this article to my attention.
It never even occur to me that she suffered… It must be terrible. I just began to read her book although its been years that I wanted to. Never been in my life that I find such kindred spirit as her. It seemed she can see the future. She had been my inspiration, my mentor now although we had never met before and never will since I wasn’t even born in her time. Yet she seemed to be the person I have known all my life. I was never rich so it is impossible for me to acquire things she had written. I was never a strong person and I always fear people. Her stories allowed me to live one step at a time. I was heartbroken to learn she had suffered… Funny how life’s humor play with our fate.
Having never read any of the Anne of Green Gable books in my youth, I am finally enjoying these absolute treasures as I near my 60th year. That Ms Montgomery suffered so in her later life is almost too sad to contemplate. Her precious ANNE books reveal all that is necessary to know in life; the biblical “treat those as you wish to be treated”. That her books have lived on these 100 years is not a surprise since they are so rich in their content. Ms Montgomery must have been a lovely, caring and kind person to have written such beloved stories. Thank God I found them and I will recommend them as long as I live.
I have loved Anne of Green Gables since I was 10 years old, when my father bought me the book as a birthday gift, telling me that the main character reminded him of me. I loved that book from start to finish, and 17 years later I still pick it up and read it about once a year. It’s a timeless, beautiful treasure.
What a tragedy that Mrs. Montgomery felt so despondent that she ended her life. Depression is an awful thing, misunderstood even now, and in her lifetime the suicidally depressed were often mocked and reviled. How lonely she must have been, trapped in the shadows of her own mind. She is free of pain now, and her legacy will live on as long as girls like me read and enjoy her wonderful books.
Dear Lux Lim, Janet, and Emily,
Thank you all for your comments. The three of you touch on a form of attachment and devotion that I’ve heard countless times from readers around the world: that L.M. Montgomery’s fiction has changed people’s lives. While the discovery of Montgomery’s depressive episodes and apparent suicide can be distressing, I don’t believe that these elements necessarily need to take away from the reading pleasure that you and I and so many other readers have experienced.
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