I know it looks like I’ve been a bit neglectful this week of my promise to post every single day a review of or an ad for one of Montgomery’s books (the focus of Volume 3 of The L.M. Montgomery Reader, available late this December). In truth, I’ve become really busy with the end-of-year crunch, but there’s also a method to my madness, since what I planned to show next was an overall marketing strategy for L.M. Montgomery. In the second half of December 1921, Montgomery’s Canadian publisher, McClelland and Stewart, placed—in the Toronto Globe and the Toronto Daily Star—several different ads for Rilla of Ingleside, always prominently at the top of a page, as a way to promote it as a choice title for the holiday season. What’s especially noteworthy is that while Rilla is now celebrated as one of the only near-contemporaneous Canadian novels about women at the homefront during the First World War, the war is barely mentioned in this campaign.
Each image zooms in when you click on it, and you can also go through all of them as a slide show.
First, the Toronto Daily Star published this ad, complete with reviewers’ quotes, on 12 December:
Second, in the Globe, on 15 December:
An almost identical ad appeared the next day, on 16 December, in the Toronto Daily Star:
Third, in the Globe, on 16 December:
Fourth, in the Globe, on 17 December:
This one, too, appeared in the Toronto Daily Star, three days later:
Fifth, in the Toronto Daily Star, on 19 December, advertising Rilla of Ingleside alongside Marian Keith’s novel Little Miss Melody (Montgomery and Keith would eventually collaborate, along with Mabel Burns McKinley, on the volume of essays Courageous Women, published in 1934):
Sixth, the Globe, on 20 December:
Seventh, a similar ad in the Toronto Daily Star, on 21 December:
Eighth, in the Globe, on 21 December:
Stay tuned next week, when I start posting extracts from reviews that were less than enthusiastic about Montgomery’s writing—starting with the earliest known review of Anne of Green Gables.
Benjamin – have you ever read any of her ‘competition’? ‘Little Miss Melody’, pictured beside Rilla in that ad for example. Were they comparable in any way? Just curious. 🙂
I haven’t read as many of them as I probably should, mainly because most of the other top-selling novels of the era are long out of print. Marian Keith is a fascinating case study, since she and Montgomery had a lot in common: both were minister’s wives and both wrote novels that appealed to a lot of readers, including a mixture of adults and young people. Yet Montgomery’s books are still read today and very few people now know who Marian Keith even was. There are lots of concrete reasons why that happens—stage and screen adaptations and tourist sites, for instance, which renew and expand the audiences for the books—but sometimes it’s simply a matter of chance. Montgomery’s books have become “classics” not because they were enshrined in the university canons of Canadian literature but simply because people have continued to read them.
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