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Author: Benjamin Lefebvre

Announcing The Blythes Are Quoted in Italian!

Cover art depicting a boy and two girls holding hands and standing in a lush field while dressed in period clothing, in a bucolic setting that consists of a pink house, a white picket fence, and a large tree in the background. Textual elements (in Italian) are as follows: Anna dai capelli rossi / Racconti dall’isola / Prima della guerra / Lucy Maud Montgomery / traduzione di Angela Ricci / Anna chiamatemi, ora una serie Netflix / Gallucci.
Cover art depicting a man and a woman embracing in a lush field while dressed in period clothing. Textual elements (in Italian) are as follows: Anna dai capelli rossi / Racconti dall’isola / Dopo la guerra / Lucy Maud Montgomery / a cura di Benjamin Lefebvre / traduzione di Angela Ricci / Anna chiamatemi, ora una serie Netflix / Gallucci.

I’m thrilled to share with you the news that my edition of The Blythes Are Quoted, L.M. Montgomery’s rediscovered final sequel to Anne of Green Gables (first published in 2009), is now available in a two-volume Italian translation entitled Racconti dall’isola (literally “Stories from the Island”), translated by Angela Ricci and published by Gallucci Editore, located in Rome. The subtitles of each volume reflect the way Montgomery divided the book into two parts: Prima della guerra (literally “Before the War”) and Dopo la guerra (literally “After the War”). This press has already published Italian translations of the eight earlier Anne books and Emily of New Moon, and I hope it will go on to translate Montgomery’s remaining books as well.

This is the fifth translation of The Blythes Are Quoted. It has appeared already in Finnish (Annan jäähyväiset, meaning “Anne’s Farewell”), translated by Marja Helanen-Ahtola; Polish (Ania z Wyspy Księcia Edwarda, meaning “Anne of Prince Edward Island”), translated by Paweł Ciemniewski; Japanese (An no Omoide no Hibi, meaning “Anne’s Days of Remembrance”), translated in two volumes by Mie Muraoka; and Brazilian Portuguese (Os Contos dos Blythes, meaning “The Tales of the Blythes,” and Os Poemas dos Blythes, meaning “The Poems of the Blythes”), translated in three volumes by Thalita Uba.

Because The Blythes Are Quoted was published after L.M. Montgomery’s death, the published edition is still protected by international copyright, and world rights (including translation rights) are controlled by Penguin Random House Canada. For any inquiries about translation rights to this title, please contact me.

Happy Thanksgiving from Cynthia!

Visual heading for L.M. Montgomery’s column “Around the Table,” signed Cynthia and appearing in thirty-five instalments in the Halifax Daily Echo between September 1901 and May 1902. From a microfilm housed at Library and Archives Canada.

Since today is Thanksgiving here in Canada, I wanted to take this opportunity not only to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving but also to share the words of L.M. Montgomery’s alter ego Cynthia, who wrote the following in the 23 November 1901 instalment of Montgomery’s “Around the Table” column in the Halifax Daily Echo:

Thanksgiving comes next week, so if I want to do any moralizing about it now is my chance. Yesterday Polly said in a dismal voice that she really didn’t know what she had to be thankful for. But she has lots of things, and so we all have, if we would only count them up. The trouble is, we would rather count up our troubles and groan and growl about them. That is human nature! 

Thanksgiving ought to be celebrated royally, not only in the letter, but in the spirit. At least, as some historic character has remarked, we can all be thankful “that things ain’t no wuss.”

Thanksgiving can, of course, be well and truly celebrated everywhere, but I think the Thanksgiving par excellence is one that is held in an old homestead. Thanksgiving in a new or rented house can’t have the same flavor as it has in a home where the very walls are permeated with the joys and sorrows of three or four generations. When the grown-up children come home to spend the day under the old roof, with perhaps a vacant chair to remind them of one who has gone to “a far country”—too far to even turn his footsteps back for that reunion—Thanksgiving is or ought to be all that its name implies. 

Aunt Janet is making mince meat for Thanksgiving up at our house already. Mince meat needs to be mellowed by age, you know. What would Thanksgiving be without mince pie? This is not a conundrum, but a serious, sober question. Well, it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving, that’s all. When folks leave mince pie out of the day it will be time for the Government to interfere.

In case you’re wondering why Cynthia is writing about Thanksgiving in late November given that Canada celebrates this holiday the second Monday in October, that’s because the holiday was celebrated in Canada at different points in October and November until 1957. For more information about the history of this holiday in Canada, see the entry on “Thanksgiving in Canada” by David Mills, Laura Neilson Bonikowsky, and Andrew McIntosh in The Canadian Encyclopedia.

Montgomery’s “Around the Table” column appears in its entirety in A Name for Herself: Selected Writings, 1891–1917, the first volume in The L.M. Montgomery Library, which is available from University of Toronto Press or from your favourite bookseller.

Next on Conversations: Round Table on Emily of New Moon

Two images against a black background: one of Green Gables House in Cavendish, PE, and one of L.M. Montgomery, in her thirties, posing outside.

I’m pleased to announce that Conversations about L.M. Montgomery will be returning for several events this fall! Coming up first on Saturday, September 25 at 2:00 p.m. (EST) is a round table on Montgomery’s 1923 novel Emily of New Moon: Brenton Dickieson, E. Holly Pike, and Kate Sutherland will discuss aspects of this celebrated book as a way to generate discussion among participants. This event will occur live over Zoom (registration is required) and will be archived on YouTube. This event is free, and all readers of Montgomery’s books are warmly invited to join us. Hope to see you there!

Next on Readathon: Emily Climbs

I am pleased to report that our discussion of L.M. Montgomery’s novel Emily of New Moon on the L.M. Montgomery Readathon concluded a few weeks ago and was a great success. Once again, Andrea McKenzie and I have been blown away by the level of enthusiasm and engagement from participants and by the number of new Montgomery friends we’ve made since we started this project in the early weeks of the pandemic. When Andrea and I talked about which book we’d like to cover next, we were immediately in agreement that we wanted to carry on with this book’s sequel, Emily Climbs. This we’ll begin tomorrow, September 20, discussing two chapters a week until the middle of December. In addition to discussion questions for each chapter, posts will cover historical context, links to Montgomery’s life and body of work, differences between editions, book covers, and the way the book was advertised and reviewed when it was published in 1925, and participants will take turns reading chapters aloud. All L.M. Montgomery readers are welcome to join us, including those who are reading this book for the first time.

Announcing Twice upon a Time

Placeholder cover for Twice upon a Time: Selected Stories, 1898–1939

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.

Twice upon a Time is preceded by A Name for Herself: Selected Writings, 1891–1917 and A World of Songs: Selected Poems, 1894–1921, the first two volumes in this series, which you can order from your favourite bookseller or at a substantial discount from the University of Toronto Press website. This book has been in the works for several years, so it is with great anticipation on my part that it will be available soon to Montgomery’s worldwide readership. If you’d like to receive more information about this book as it becomes available—including the cover, preordering information, and some sneak previews—please subscribe to this blog by entering your email address in the box below and follow this website on Facebook and on Twitter.

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Next on Readathon: Emily of New Moon

Frontispiece by M.L. Kirk in the original edition of Emily of New Moon (1923); courtesy of the Internet Archive

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.

All readers who are interested in learning more about this fascinating book are welcome to join the conversation on Facebook. Hope to see you there!

Next on Conversations: L.M. Montgomery’s Bookshelf

Two images against a black background: one of Green Gables House in Cavendish, PE, and one of L.M. Montgomery, in her thirties, posing outside.

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!

Next on Readathon: Chronicles of Avonlea

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.

Title page of 1912 edition of Chronicles of Avonlea
Title page of 1912 edition of Chronicles of Avonlea, published by L.C. Page and Company. Courtesy of Hathi Trust Digital Library.

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.

Back matter ad for Chronicles of Avonlea
Back matter ad for Chronicles of Avonlea, appearing in the 1912 edition published by L.C. Page and Company. Courtesy of Hathi Trust Digital Library.

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

Chronicles of Avonlea was part of the basis for the ever-popular television series Road to Avonlea (1990–1996), and it also showcases Montgomery’s strengths as a short-story writer. As such, it’s a collection that’s certainly worth revisiting. Please join the conversation on the L.M. Montgomery Readathon!

Next on Conversations: L.M. Montgomery’s Character Pairs

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!

Next on Conversations: L.M. Montgomery’s Scrapbooks and Other Records

Two images against a black background: one of Green Gables House in Cavendish, PE, and one of L.M. Montgomery, in her thirties, posing outside.

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.

UPDATE: The video from this event has now been posted to YouTube.