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A Note on the Epigraph to Rilla of Ingleside

Cover of the original edition of L.M. Montgomery's Rilla of Ingleside, published in 1921. In the centre is a painted image of a young Caucasian woman wearing a white dress and a red jacket clutching a letter and sitting on the ground, with trees behind her and poppies scattered at her feet. The image is surrounded by a design elements that indicate the author's name and the book title against a navy-blue background.

Today came the official announcement of the signing of the armistice! The Great War is over—the world’s agony has ended. What has been born? The next generation may be able to answer that. We can never know fully.

—L.M. Montgomery, journal entry dated 11 November 1918

Given that not only is today Remembrance Day but also this year marks the one-hundredth anniversary of L.M. Montgomery’s Great War novel Rilla of Ingleside, I thought this might be a good opportunity to share with you some findings about an aspect of Montgomery’s work that I’ve long found fascinating, since it has to do with her attempts to engage with the work of fellow Canadian writers.

As her journals and letters show, Montgomery’s reading interests overall were quite broad, but she had a particular fondness for the work of canonical nineteenth-century poets (mostly male) who were located in England, Scotland, and the United States. And so, since her books are filled with allusions to and quotations from a vast array of literary works, it’s not surprising that the same names recur several times.

If we look specifically at her books’ epigraphs—short quotations that appear near the beginning of a book as a way to offer readers a hint about its contents (particularly for readers who recognize the quotation and can place it in the context of the overall work)—we can see a clear pattern in terms of what texts and what authors Montgomery chose to highlight. Of the ten books by Montgomery that begin with an epigraph from someone else’s work, all but one quote the work of a male poet from outside Canada: Robert Browning (Anne of Green Gables), John Greenleaf Whittier (Anne of Avonlea and Chronicles of Avonlea), James Hogg (Kilmeny of the Orchard), George Gordon, Lord Byron (The Story Girl), Alfred, Lord Tennyson (Anne of the Island), Rupert Brooke (Anne’s House of Dreams), Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (Rainbow Valley), and Rudyard Kipling (Pat of Silver Bush).

Title page of the original edition of Rilla of Ingleside, with the following text elements: RILLA OF INGLESIDE / by / L.M. Montgomery // Author of “Anne of Green Gables,” “Anne of the Island,” “Anne’s House of Dreams,” “Rainbow Valley,” “The Story Girl,” “The Watchman,” etc. // "Now they remain to us forever young / Who with such splendour gave their youth away.” / —Sheard / With frontispiece in colour by / M.L. Kirk // Toronto / McClelland and Stewart, Limited / Publishers

The epigraph to Rilla of Ingleside is thus unique in two particular ways: first, its author, Virna Sheard, is the only Canadian as well as the only woman whose work appears in one of Montgomery’s epigraphs; and second, Sheard is so relatively unknown that when Rea Wilmshurst published her list of literary allusions in the Anne books in Canadian Children’s Literature / Littérature canadienne pour la jeunesse in 1989, she was unable to identify the poem by Sheard in question. In the years then, as more and more print materials have been digitized and made text searchable, it’s been far easier to determine that these lines are from Sheard’s poem “The Young Knights,” which appeared in her 1917 collection Carry On! and which was reprinted in John W. Garvin’s anthology Canadian Poems of the Great War (1918). Montgomery’s poem “Our Women” also appears in that anthology, so it would seem plausible that she had come across Sheard’s poem in that anthology and used it when she started writing Rilla of Ingleside in mid-March 1919.

The problem, though, is that the lines from Sheard’s poem as they appear on the title page of Rilla of Ingleside don’t quite match the way they appear in Carry On! or in Canadian Poems of the Great War. Here is a detail from the title page of Rilla of Ingleside.

Detail from the title page of the first edition of /Rilla of Ingleside/, with text as follows: "'Now they remain to us forever young / Who with such splendour gave their / youth away.” / —Sheard

Note the preference here for the Canadian spelling of “splendour” and the line break just before “youth away.” In the versions appearing in Sheard’s and Garvin’s books, these elements appear slightly differently:

Detail from /Carry On!/, by Virna Sheard, with text as follows: “’The Young Knights’ // Now they remain to us forever young / Who with such splendor gave their you away; / Perpetual Spring is their inheritance, / Though they have lived in Flanders and in France / A round of years, in one remembered day.
Detail from /Canadian Poems of the Great War/, edited by John W. Garvin, with text as follows: “’The Young Knights’ // Now they remain to us forever young / Who with such splendor gave their you away; / Perpetual Spring is their inheritance, / Though they have lived in Flanders and in France / A round of years, in one remembered day.

In Carry On!, the first of the two images, the text opts for the American spelling of “splendor,” and in both versions there’s no line break before “youth away” as there is on the title page of Rilla of Ingleside. There seemed to be a mystery here and I knew it would continue to bug me until I figured it out.

And so, when Andrea McKenzie and I started discussing Rilla of Ingleside at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic on the L.M. Montgomery Readathon, I decided to take another look at the surviving files. I found a digital copy of Carry On! on the website of the Canadiana digital project, so I combed through the rest of the book and noticed that Sheard mentions in the acknowledgements section that “The Young Knights” was one of several poems in the collection that was first published in the Toronto Globe (now the Globe and Mail). Lo and behold, a quick search through the digital archives of the Globe showed that the poem appeared in that newspaper on 23 May 1916:

Detail from “The Young Knights” by Virna Sheard, published in the Toronto Globe on 23 May 1916, with text as follows: “’The Young Knights’ // Now they remain to us forever young / Who with such splendor gave their / youth away; / Perpetual Spring is their inheritance, / Though they have lived in Flanders / and in France / A round of years, in one remembered / day.

Because this poem appeared in a newspaper with narrow columns, longer lines of poetry needed to broken in two and indented, as happens three times in this stanza. So even though this Globe version uses the U.S. spelling of “splendor,” it seems more likely that Montgomery drew on this newspaper version when writing her book. Not to mention that, on the title of her handwritten manuscript, she writes “splendor” instead of “splendour,” so presumably the change to Canadian spelling was made at the typescript stage or at the typesetting stage.

Detail from the title page of the handwritten manuscript of /Rilla of Ingleside/, with text as follows: ”’Now they remain to us forever young / Who with such splendor gave their / youth away.’ —Sheard.”

These are obviously minor differences between texts, and devoting an entire blog post to them may seem somewhat excessive. To close, then, here is the full text of Virna Sheard’s poem “The Young Knights,” as it appeared in her book Carry On!, published in 1917:

Now they remain to us forever young
      Who with such splendor gave their youth away;
Perpetual Spring is their inheritance,
      Though they have lived in Flanders and in France
A round of years, in one remembered day.

They drained life’s goblet as a joyous draught
      And left within the cup no bitter lees.
Sweetly they answered to the King’s behest,
      And gallantly fared forth upon a quest,
Beset by foes on land and on the seas.

So in the ancient world hath bloomed again
      The rose of old romance—red as of yore;
The flower of high emprise hath whitely blown
      Above the graves of those we call our own,
And we will know its fragrance evermore.

Now if their deeds were written with the stars,
      In golden letters on the midnight sky
They would not care. They were so young, and dear,
      They loved the best the things that were most near,
And gave no thought to glory far and high.

They need no shafts of marble pure and cold—
      No painted windows radiantly bright;
Across our hearts their names are carven deep—
      In waking dreams, and in the dreams of sleep,
They bring us still ineffable delight.

Methinks heaven’s gates swing open very wide
      To welcome in a host so fair and strong;
Perchance the unharmed angels as they sing,
      May envy these the battle-scars they bring,
And sigh e’er they take up the triumph song!

Image Credits

  1. Cover of the original edition of L.M. Montgomery’s novel Rilla of Ingleside, published by McClelland and Stewart (Toronto) and Frederick A. Stokes Company (New York) in 1921. Courtesy of the Internet Archive.
  2. Title page of the original edition of L.M. Montgomery’s novel Rilla of Ingleside, published by McClelland and Stewart in 1921. Courtesy of the Internet Archive.
  3. Detail from the title page of the original edition of L.M. Montgomery’s novel Rilla of Ingleside, published by McClelland and Stewart in 1921. Courtesy of the Internet Archive.
  4. Detail from Virna Sheard’s poem “The Young Knights,” appearing in her book Carry On!, published by Warwick Bros. & Rutter in 1917. Courtesy of Canadiana.
  5. Detail from Virna Sheard’s poem “The Young Knights,” appearing in Canadian Poems of the Great War, edited by John W. Garvin and published by McClelland and Stewart in 1918. Courtesy of the Internet Archive.
  6. Detail from Virna Sheard’s poem “The Young Knights,” appearing in the Globe (Toronto) on 23 May 1916. Courtesy of the Globe and Mail digital archives.
  7. Detail from the title page of the handwritten manuscript of L.M. Montgomery’s novel Rilla of Ingleside, written in 1919 and 1920. Courtesy of Archival and Special Collections, University of Guelph Library.

Bibliography

Montgomery, L.M. L.M. Montgomery’s Complete Journals: The Ontario Years, 1918–1921. Edited by Jen Rubio. N.p.: Rock’s Mills Press, 2017.

—. “Rilla of Ingleside.” MS. XZ5 MS A004, L.M. Montgomery Collection, Archival and Special Collections, University of Guelph Library.

—. Rilla of Ingleside. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1921. https://archive.org/details/rillaofingleside00mont_0/.

—. Rilla of Ingleside. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Company, 1921. https://archive.org/details/rillaingleside00montgoog.

Sheard, Virna. Carry On!, Toronto: Warwick Bros. & Rutter, 1917. https://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.76272/8?r=0&s=1.

—. “The Young Knights.” Globe (Toronto), 23 May 1916, 4.

—. “The Young Knights.” In Canadian Poems of the Great War, edited by John W. Garvin, 219–20. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1918. https://archive.org/details/canadianpoemsofg00garv/page/218/mode/2up.

Wilmshurst, Rea. “L.M. Montgomery’s Use of Quotations and Allusions in the ‘Anne’ Books.” Canadian Children’s Literature / Littérature canadienne pour la jeunesse 56 (1989): 15–45. https://ccl-lcj.ca/index.php/ccl-lcj/article/view/2413.

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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Four Days of Free Shipping from UTP!

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.

A full list of titles is as follows:

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!

Cover Reveal: The L.M. Montgomery Reader in Paperback!

Cover art for The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 1: A Life in Print Cover art for The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 2: A Critical Heritage Cover of The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 3: A Legacy in Review

I’m very pleased to announce the forthcoming publication, in paperback, of all three volumes of my award-winning critical anthology, The L.M. Montgomery Reader (Volume 1: A Life in Print; Volume 2: A Critical Heritage; Volume 3: A Legacy in Review) from University of Toronto Press. This project took up the bulk of my professional life over a five-year period, so I’m thrilled that all three volumes will be available in paperback soon.

Once again, the best way to order these books is from the University of Toronto Press website. Volume 1, Volume 2, and Volume 3 are also available in hardcover and ebook formats.

The cover art features the covers of the first Canadian editions of Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, and Chronicles of Avonlea published by the Ryerson Press (Toronto) in 1942 and 1943; these copies are part of my personal collection.

Twenty Nineteen in Review

Last July, I blogged about three books that had just been published—Anne of Green Gables: The Original Manuscript, edited by Carolyn Strom Collins; a new edition of Imagining Anne: The Island Scrapbooks of L.M. Montgomery, by Elizabeth Rollins Epperly; and L.M. Montgomery’s Complete Journals: The Ontario Years, 1930–1933, edited by Jen Rubio—as well as some journal articles and book chapters that had appeared in the first half of 2019. What I’d like to do now is highlight some of the remaining books, adaptations, and items of scholarship that have appeared during the last year, all of which demonstrate that there’s always something new to learn and appreciate about L.M. Montgomery.

There’s also been a lot of work going on behind the scenes here at L.M. Montgomery Online. As I mentioned in a blog post last September, I’ve been reorganizing and streamlining the information on this website to make it more manageable. When I started this website (as L.M. Montgomery Research Group) back in 2007, I wanted to showcase all contributors to L.M. Montgomery studies, and accordingly, I created stand-alone pages for every author, every periodical, every major book, and every actor in a screen adaptation of Montgomery’s work. As a result, this website became so large that I couldn’t make back-ups of it anymore, so this year I decided to eliminate pages for periodicals and to list actors, writers, and directors of screen adaptations on single pages (in the case of actors, listed alphabetically by surname with one page for each letter of the alphabet). Doing so has brought the website down to a more reasonable size, which has enabled me to start featuring lists of Montgomery’s periodical pieces.

Cover art for A WORLD OF SONGS: SELECTED POEMS, 1894–1921, by L.M. Montgomery, edited by Benjamin Lefebvre

I mention all this to explain why it’s taken me this long to announce formally on this blog the publication of A World of Songs: Selected Poems, 1894–1921, the second volume in The L.M. Montgomery Library, which University of Toronto Press published last January. I wanted to wait until I’d finished the overhaul of my lists of Montgomery’s periodical pieces, and that ended up taking much longer than I’d anticipated (and I still haven’t finished adding all the essays by Montgomery that appear in Volume 1 of The L.M. Montgomery Reader). Users of this website can now browse lists of items whose full texts appear in my books—poems by title, by date, and by first line; miscellaneous pieces by date; an index of periodical titles; and a list of Montgomery’s alternate signatures—with more items to be added as new volumes are published.

A World of Songs consists of a selection of fifty poems—roughly 10% of Montgomery’s total output—published over a quarter of a century, starting when she was a student at Prince of Wales College in Charlottetown. In my afterword, I talk about Montgomery’s poems in terms of “the competing forces of literary reputation, reader recognition, financial profit, and enduring literary quality” and attempt to position this work against poems by some of her contemporaries, including Duncan Campbell Scott, Bliss Carman, and Isabella Valancy Crawford. It’s meant to be a companion of sorts to The Blythes Are Quoted, which features forty-one of Montgomery’s poems, most of which were first published in magazines from 1919 onward. It will be followed by a much larger volume of all of Montgomery’s poems, something that I’ve been working on for several years already.

Although several new trade editions of Montgomery’s books appeared in 2019, the year was also notable for the appearance of three new biographies of Montgomery, two of them for very young readers. In 2018, María Isabel Sánchez Vegara published a picture-b0ok biography for the Little People, Big Dreams series (whose books tell the story of several prominent women, including Frida Kahlo, Ella Fitzgerald, Coco Chanel, and Marie Curie). This past August, Sánchez Vegara published Lucy Maud: My First L.M. Montgomery, a board-book version of her biography with a simplified text in order to “introduce your baby to Canada’s favorite author.” (I especially appreciated an image showing Montgomery’s newspaper column, signed Cynthia, which I collected last year in A Name for Herself: Selected Writings, 1891–1917.) Sarah Howden also published a short biography for HarperCollins’s I Can Read! series, whereas a revised edition of Stan Sauerwein’s 2004 biography for the Amazing Stories series appeared as Lucy Maud Montgomery: Canada’s Literary Treasure, published by Formac Publishing Company.

Also for young children are two more volumes in Kelly Hill’s series of Anne-related concept books from Tundra Books: Anne’s Feelings and Anne’s Alphabet, which follow Anne’s Colors and Anne’s Letters from 2018. Also from Tundra this past year is Kallie George’s Anne’s Kindred Spirits, a second abridgement for children of Anne of Green Gables, following 2018’s Anne Arrives, republished in paperback in 2019.

In terms of scholarship, December 2019 saw the publication of Wendy Roy’s book-length study The Next Instalment: Serials, Sequels, and Adaptations of Nellie L. McClung, L.M. Montgomery, and Mazo de la Roche, published by Wilfrid Laurier University Press. Roy’s book promises to become a major contribution to the field, not only because it focuses on the largely unexplored topic of serial publication, but also because it places Montgomery firmly alongside two of her contemporaries within Canadian literary studies.

Here’s a list of journal articles, book chapters, and reviews on L.M. Montgomery’s work that were published in 2019 (including a trio of articles on Swedish translations in Barnboken: Journal of Children’s Literature Research), in addition to those I mentioned in my blog post from last July:

  • Holly Blackford, “Unattached Women Raising Cain: Spinsters Touching Orphans in Anne of Green Gables and Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” in South: A Scholarly Journal
  • Claire Campbell, review of L.M. Montgomery and the Matter of Nature(s), in American Review of Canadian Studies
  • Frederika A. Eilers, “Making Green Gables Anne’s Home: Rural Landscapes and Ordinary Homes of Canadian Fiction and Film,” in Our Rural Selves: Memory and the Visual in Canadian Childhoods
  • Faye Hammill, review of A Name for Herself: Selected Writings, 1891–1917, in Times Literary Supplement
  • Victoria Kennedy, “Haunted by the Lady Novelist: Metafictional Anxieties about Women’s Writing from Northanger Abbey to The Carrie Diaries,” in Women: A Cultural Review
  • Andrea McKenzie, review of L.M. Montgomery and the Matter of Nature(s), in The Lion and the Unicorn
  • Claudia Mills, “Trying to Be Good (with Bad Results): The WouldbegoodsBetsy-Tacy and Tib, and Ivy and Bean: Bound to Be Bad,” in Children’s Literature
  • David Myles, “‘Anne Goes Rogue for Abortion Rights!’: Hashtag Feminism and the Polyphonic Nature of Activist Discourse,” in New Media and Society
  • Cornelia Rémi, “From Green Gables to Grönkulla: The Metamorphoses of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables and Its Various Swedish Translations,” in Barnboken: Journal of Children’s Literature Research
  • Jennifer Scott, review of A Name for Herself: Selected Writings, 1891–1917, in Victorian Periodicals Review
  • Åsa Warnqvist, “‘Don’t Be Too Upset with Your Unchivalrous Publisher’: Translator–Publisher Interactions in the Swedish Translations of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne and Emily Books,” in Barnboken: Journal of Children’s Literature Research

The 2018 annual volume of The Shining Scroll, the official publication of the L.M. Montgomery Literary Society (Minnesota), appeared early in 2019, featuring articles and news by Mary Beth Cavert, Carolyn Strom Collins, and Sandra Wagner. Be sure to download this newsletter if you don’t know it already. I look forward to reading the 2019 edition!

Twenty nineteen was also the year that the third—and ultimately the last—season of Anne with an “E” aired on CBC television. I was really disappointed to learn of the series’ cancellation, not only because I thought the show overall was excellent, but also because of the point at which it stops. The third season was released worldwide (except Canada) on Netflix just last Friday, so I don’t want to go into too much detail for viewers who haven’t finished it yet, but I was disappointed by what the networks decided was a suitable way to end a young woman’s story, given that the creators evidently hadn’t intended to end the story there. In spite of a petition and a flurry of positive responses on social media, it looks unlikely at this point that the series will be continued beyond the twenty-seven episodes already produced, which is a real shame. Although the television series departed in many ways from the book, it clearly struck a chord with viewers all over the world, much like how readers have responded to Montgomery’s writing for more than a century.

As for me, 2019 has been a busy year in terms of future volumes of The L.M. Montgomery Library. After completing the bulk of the work on the first of several chronological volumes of Montgomery’s short stories, I ended up deciding, in consultation with my editor, to move a few things around and to present this aspect of her work in a new way, with the result that I’ve spent six months working on three volumes simultaneously. One reason this has taken longer than anticipated is that I’ve been searching for a multi-chapter serial entitled “The Luck of the Tremaynes,” which Montgomery published in the January and February 1907 issues of The American Home of Waterville, Maine. I’ve searched through every digital repository I can think of and contacted libraries, collectors, and booksellers, and so far I haven’t had any luck. (I’ve come close a few times, though—a microfilm that claimed to have the full run of the issue ended at 1906, whereas copies of other 1907 issues are currently available on eBay.) In the off chance that you have a copy or have a suggestion of someone who might, please contact me. In the meantime, watch this space for news about future volumes in the series!

I guess that’s it. I look forward to seeing what 2020 will bring!

Revisiting Anne and Montgomery

Three new books released this month invite readers to revisit the story of Anne of Green Gables and the life story L.M. Montgomery prepared for posthumous publication in the form of ten handwritten volumes of journals. All three books are the result of careful dedication on the part of volume editors whose painstaking attention to detail has made rare archival material come alive for Montgomery’s worldwide readership.

Cover art for ANNE OF GREEN GABLES: THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT

First, Halifax publisher Nimbus Publishing has released Anne of Green Gables: The Original Manuscript, edited by Carolyn Strom Collins. This book consists of a transcription of the handwritten manuscript of Anne of Green Gables that showcases for the first time Montgomery’s creative process and elaborate revision system. It also includes, as an appendix, a gallery of rare covers of translated editions of the novel. Past scholarship has turned to the manuscript of Anne of Green Gables to study part of the writing process of the novel—revealing such details as the fact that Montgomery considered “Laura” and “Gertrude” as the names of Anne’s bosom friend before settling on “Diana”—but this book marks the first time readers will be able to see that creative process for themselves.

Anne of Green Gables: The Original Manuscript will be launched at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Charlottetown on 1 August 2019.

Cover art for Imagining Anne: The Island Scrapbooks of L.M. Montgomery

Also from Nimbus Publishing is a paperback edition of Elizabeth Rollins Epperly’s Imagining Anne: The Island Scrapbooks of L.M. Montgomery, first published in hardcover in 2008 as part of Penguin Canada’s 100 Years of Anne celebration. This book features beautiful reproductions of key pages from two of Montgomery’s PEI scrapbooks on which she pasted a wide range of ephemera in order to create a visual archive for her creative process. In her commentary, Epperly suggests linkages between the individual items, the stories they tell in Montgomery’s arrangement of them on the page, and the way that they inspired key moments in Anne of Green Gables. As the back cover rightly proclaims, this book offers readers “a revealing look inside the mind of one of the most cherished writers of the twentieth century.”

The new edition of Imagining Anne will be launched at UPEI’s Robertson Library in Charlottetown on 25 July 2019.

Cover art for L.M. Montgomery's Complete Journals: The Ontario Years, 1930-1933

Finally, Rock’s Mills Press has published L.M. Montgomery’s Complete Journals: The Ontario Years, 1930–1933, the fifth volume of Montgomery’s unabridged Ontario journals prepared by Jen Rubio. This volume contains all diary entries dated 1930 to 1933, at the height of the Great Depression, at which point Montgomery and her family were living in Norval, Ontario. These were difficult years for her, especially due to a revelation made by one of her sons that distressed her so much that she was unable to write full diary entries for almost three years. Like Epperly’s Imagining Anne, this book offers readers “a revealing look inside the mind of one of the most cherished writers of the twentieth century,” but for very different reasons—it showcases the private anguish of a woman who, acutely aware of societal expectations, turned to her journal as a safe outlet for her worries and secrets, but her increased awareness of these journals as a document that she wanted to be published after her death also constrained her ability to be completely honest in this record of her life.

In addition to these three books, a number of recent journal articles and book chapters have been pushing the conversation about Montgomery’s life, work, and legacy in exciting new ways:

  • Elizabeth Rollins Epperly, “Reading Time: L.M. Montgomery and the ‘Alembic of Fiction’” (in Journal of L.M. Montgomery Studies)
  • Irene Gammel, “‘We Are the Dead’: Rhetoric, Community and the Making of John McCrae’s Iconic War Poem” (in First World War Studies)
  • Caroline E. Jones, “Idylls of Play: L.M. Montgomery’s Child-Worlds” (in Children’s Play in Literature: Investigating the Strengths and the Subversions of the Playing Child)
  • Vappu Kannas, “‘Emily Equals Childhood and Youth and First Love’: Finnish Readers and L.M. Montgomery’s Anne and Emily Books” (in Reading Today)
  • Laura Leden, “Girls’ Classics and Constraints in Translation: A Case Study of Purifying Adaptation in the Swedish Translation of L.M. Montgomery’s Emily of New Moon” (in Barnboken)
  • Jane Nicholas, “The Children’s Séance: Child Death, the Body, and Grief in Interwar Ontario” (in The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth)
  • Christopher Parkes, “Anne Is Angry: Female Beauty and the Transformative Power of Cruelty in L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables” (in Cruel Children in Popular Texts and Cultures)
  • Julie A. Sellers, “‘A Good Imagination Gone Wrong’: Reading Anne of Green Gables as a Quixotic Novel” (in Journal of L.M. Montgomery Studies)
  • Rob Shields, “Lifelong Sorrow: Settler Affect, State and Trauma at Anne of Green Gables” (in Settler Colonial Studies)
  • Emily Stokes-Rees, “Re-thinking Anne: Representing Japanese Culture at a Quintessentially Canadian Site” (in Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change)
  • Janet Wesselius, “Anne’s Body Has a Mind (and Soul) of Its Own: Embodiment and the Cartesian Legacy in Anne of Green Gables” (in The Embodied Child: Readings in Children’s Literature and Culture)

March Madness Sale at UTP!

UPDATE: This sale has been extended until April 7!

I’ve fallen woefully behind on my blog posts, but here’s one that simply can’t wait any longer. I found out earlier this week that University of Toronto Press is having a March Madness Sale, which means that several L.M. Montgomery books are 50% off for the rest of the month!

My three-volume collection The L.M. Montgomery Reader, which won the 2016 PROSE Award for Literature from the Association of American Publishers, is available for $60 for the entire set, whereas Volume 1: A Life in Print, Volume 2: A Critical Heritage, and Volume 3: A Legacy in Review are available individually for $29, which is a 50% discount. Anne’s World: A New Century of Anne of Green Gables, a collection of essays I edited in collaboration with Irene Gammel, is also available at a 50% discount.

Additional books are also available at discounts of 40% to 60%: Elizabeth Rollins Epperly’s book-length studies The Fragrance of Sweet-Grass: L.M. Montgomery’s Heroines and the Pursuit of Romance and Through Lover’s Lane: L.M. Montgomery’s Photography and Visual Imagination, Gammel’s collections of essays Making Avonlea: L.M. Montgomery and Popular Culture and The Intimate Life of L.M. Montgomery, Gammel and Epperly’s collection of essays L.M. Montgomery and Canadian Culture, and Hildi Froese Tiessen and Paul Gerard Tiessen’s After Green Gables: L.M. Montgomery’s Letters to Ephraim Weber, 1916–1941.

This sale runs till the end of March, and University of Toronto Press ships worldwide. Complete your Montgomery collection today!

And while you’re at it, you can also pick up copies of my latest books: A Name for Herself: Selected Writings, 1891–1917 and A World of Songs: Selected Poems, 1894–1921.

The Blythes Are Quoted: Penguin Modern Classics Edition Now Available

Cover art for The Blythes Are Quoted: Penguin Modern Classics Edition

Happy book birthday to the Penguin Modern Classics Edition of L.M. Montgomery’s rediscovered final book, The Blythes Are Quoted! Completed by Montgomery shortly before her death in 1942 as a final sequel to Anne of Green Gables and first published in its entirety in 2009, this book features a blend of short fiction, poetry, and vignettes that shows the contrast between the dynamics between Anne and her family members and how they’re perceived by outsiders. Divided in two parts, one set before and one after the Great War of 1914–1918, the book consists of Montgomery’s final word about a number of preoccupations in her earlier books, including war, family, romance, and childhood.

This edition includes the full text of the 2009 edition, along with an updated introduction and suggestions for further reading by me and an updated afterword by Elizabeth Rollins Epperly. It is available primarily across Canada, but it can be ordered through Amazon.ca and Chapters.Indigo.ca, both of which ship worldwide.

“[T]his re-acquaintance with the voice of L.M. Montgomery is marvellously satisfying. . . . Lefebvre’s patient and meticulous scholarship has resulted in this fascinating volume, a gift to insatiable followers of Anne Shirley’s story.”
Aritha van Herk, The Globe and Mail

Three New Books This Month and Three More Coming Soon

Three exciting new L.M. Montgomery-related books have been published throughout the month of May, with three more appearing shortly. Together, these six books showcase the wide reach of Montgomery’s literary and cultural legacy more than seventy-five years after her death.
Cover art for L.M. Montgomery and the Matter of Nature(s)L.M. Montgomery's Complete Journals: The Ontario Years, 1922-1925

Cover art for House of Dreams: The Life of L.M. Montgomery, by Liz RosenbergCover art for The Diary of Charles Macneill, Farmer, 1892–1896Cover art for The Blythes Are Quoted: Penguin Modern Classics Edition
Coming up in June is Liz Rosenberg’s middle-grade biography, House of Dreams: The L.M. Montgomery (Candlewick Press), as well as The Diary of Charles Macneill, Farmer, 1892–1896 (Rock’s Mills Press), the full text of a diary by a distant relative of L.M. Montgomery that she transcribed in full and commented on extensively in her own journal in 1925, with a preface by Jen Rubio. Finally, in early July, Penguin Canada will publish a new Penguin Modern Classics Edition of Montgomery’s rediscovered final book, The Blythes Are Quoted, with a revised introduction by Benjamin Lefebvre and a revised afterword by Elizabeth Rollins Epperly.

Sneak Preview: Cover of Complete Journals 1922–1925

Jen Rubio, publisher at Rock’s Mills Press and editor of several new volumes of L.M. Montgomery’s complete journals, released a sneak preview over Twitter this morning of the cover of the next volume, covering the years 1922 to 1925.

The book is expected out sometime this spring. I will post more details as soon as they’re released.

Coming in Fall 2018: Sarah McCoy’s Marilla of Green Gables

A few months ago, I stumbled upon a listing for Marilla of Green Gables, a novel by Sarah McCoy scheduled for publication in fall 2018 by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins. A synopsis for the novel appeared online a few days ago, and today, coinciding with International Women’s Day, the cover has been revealed on Bookriot.

Here is the synopsis, appearing on the HarperCollins website:

A bold, heartfelt tale of life at Green Gables . . . before Anne: A marvelously entertaining and moving historical novel, set in rural Prince Edward Island in the nineteenth century, that imagines the young life of spinster Marilla Cuthbert, and the choices that will open her life to the possibility of heartbreak—and unimaginable greatness.

Plucky and ambitious, Marilla Cuthbert is thirteen years old when her world is turned upside down. Her beloved mother has dies in childbirth, and Marilla suddenly must bear the responsibilities of a farm wife: cooking, sewing, keeping house, and overseeing the day-to-day life of Green Gables with her brother, Matthew and father, Hugh.

In Avonlea—a small, tight-knit farming town on a remote island—life holds few options for farm girls. Her one connection to the wider world is Aunt Elizabeth “Izzy” Johnson, her mother’s sister, who managed to escape from Avonlea to the bustling city of St. Catharines. An opinionated spinster, Aunt Izzy’s talent as a seamstress has allowed her to build a thriving business and make her own way in the world.

Emboldened by her aunt, Marilla dares to venture beyond the safety of Green Gables and discovers new friends and new opportunities. Joining the Ladies Aid Society, she raises funds for an orphanage run by the Sisters of Charity in nearby Nova Scotia that secretly serves as a way station for runaway slaves from America. Her budding romance with John Blythe, the charming son of a neighbor, offers her a possibility of future happiness—Marilla is in no rush to trade one farm life for another. She soon finds herself caught up in the dangerous work of politics, and abolition—jeopardizing all she cherishes, including her bond with her dearest John Blythe. Now Marilla must face a reckoning between her dreams of making a difference in the wider world and the small-town reality of life at Green Gables.

And here is the cover!

Cover art for Marilla of Green Gables, by Sarah McCoy
Courtesy of Bookriot

The book is available for pre-order from most vendors. Visit Sarah McCoy’s website and connect with her on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter.

Upcoming Anne Releases

Last April, I wrote about four new books that were released last spring to coincide with the seventy-fifth anniversary of L.M. Montgomery’s death and that promised to stretch our understanding of her life, work, and legacy in exciting new ways: Melanie J. Fishbane’s YA novel Maud: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery, Andrea McKenzie and Jane Ledwell’s collection of essays L.M. Montgomery and War, Jen Rubio’s edition of L.M. Montgomery’s Complete Journals: The Ontario Years, 1918–1921, and Carolyn Strom Collins and Christy Woster’s volume of short stories After Many Years. Also published since that blog entry are Rubio’s edition of L.M. Montgomery’s Complete Journals: The Ontario Years, 1926–1929, also released in May (a volume covering the years 1922 to 1925 is forthcoming), as well as paperback editions of Mary Henley Rubio and Elizabeth Hillman Waterston’s The Complete Journals of L.M. Montgomery: The PEI Years, including a volume devoted to 1889 to 1900 and one to 1901 to 1911.

Coming up in the next several months is another new batch of releases, but for the most part the focus has shifted back to Montgomery’s most celebrated book, Anne of Green Gables.

Cover art for Anne of Green Gables (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition, 2017)

First up is the Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition of Anne of Green Gables, with a foreword by J. Courtney Sullivan, an introduction and additional contributions by me, and a bonus essay by L.M. Montgomery. Most trade reprints of the novel published in North America reprint a modernized version of the text that first appeared in the mid-twentieth century and that Americanizes spelling, updates hyphenation and punctuation, and makes a number of small changes to the text (there are fourteen small changes made to the first chapter alone). The Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition is one of the few that includes the full text of the original 1908 edition, with fourteen corrections that are listed in the section entitled “A Note on the Text.”

This new edition of Anne of Green Gables will appear less than two months before the Penguin Canada Modern Classics edition of The Blythes Are Quoted, already announced. Joining these authoritative editions of Montgomery’s work are several new books that engage with her story in a range of ways:

Meet Me at Green Gables, by Michel Bourque, illustrated by Jean-Luc Trudel: This charming picture book tells the story of Gracie Finley and Glenda Landry, who played Anne and Diana in Anne of Green Gables: The Musical in Charlottetown in the 1960s. Also available in French as Rideau rouge et pignons verts. Bouton d’or d’Acadie, August 2017.

Anne of Green Gables: A BabyLit Places Primer, by Jennifer Adams, illustrated by Alison Oliver: Designed to “captivate your brainy baby’s imagination, and yours,” this board book for toddlers focuses on the PEI locations that are so prominent in the book. Gibbs Smith, August 2017.

Anne of Green Gables, illustrated by Maki Minami: This new edition of the novel features manga illustrations by Japanese manga author Maki Minami. Seven Seas Entertainment, September 2017.

The Anne of Green Gables Cookbook, by Kate Macdonald: A new edition of this recipe book by a granddaughter of L.M. Montgomery, first published in 1985, now with the subtitle “Charming Recipes from Anne and Her Friends in Avonlea.” Race Point Publishing, September 2017.

Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel, adapted by Mariah Marsden, illustrated by Brenna Thummler: This “whimsically-illustrated” graphic novel offers new and returning readers a chance to “explore the violet vales and glorious green of Avonlea.” Andrews McMeel Publishing, October 2017.

The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables: The Enchanting Island That Inspired L.M. Montgomery, by Catherine Reid, with photographs by Kerry Michaels: Traces the ways in which Montgomery’s “deep connection to the landscape inspired her to write Anne of Green Gables.” Timber Press, March 2018.

Anne’s Colors and Anne’s Numbers, illustrated by Kelly Hill: “Part of a series of Anne concept books,” these two board books are intended for earliest readers. Tundra Books, May 2018.

Finally, it is also worth noting that L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables: The Good Stars, the second of three movies starring Ella Ballentine as Anne, will be released on DVD in November 2017, ahead of its U.S. premiere on PBS on Thanksgiving Day. No news yet on a DVD release of the third movie, L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables: Fire and Dew.

New L.M. Montgomery-Related Books This Spring

Today marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of L.M. Montgomery’s death, at her home in Toronto, at the age of sixty-seven. I have written before about the circumstances of her death and how it was written about in the form of obituaries and tributes (many of which are included in The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 1), and so today, I wanted instead to draw your attention to four exciting new books that are set to be published in the next five weeks, each of which will add considerably to our understanding of Montgomery’s life, work, and legacy.

Maud, by Melanie J. FishbaneMaud: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery is the debut novel of Toronto author Melanie J. Fishbane. This work of historical fiction tells the story of fourteen-year-old Maud Montgomery, who dreams of becoming a writer like her beloved Louisa May Alcott but who must contend with the narrow expectations of the adults in her family: her maternal grandparents in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island, as well as her father and her stepmother in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Fishbane, who contributed a chapter to L.M. Montgomery’s Rainbow Valleys: The Ontario Years, 1911–1942 (2015), has drawn judiciously from Montgomery’s published and unpublished writings as well as extensive fieldwork in both Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan to create her novel. She has presented several papers in Charlottetown and Leaskdale about Montgomery as a teen writer. This book will be published tomorrow by Penguin Teen Canada, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada. For more about this author and this book, see Fishbane’s personal website.

L.M. Montgomery and War is a collection of essays edited and introduced by Andrea McKenzie (co-editor of a restored and annotated edition of Rilla of Ingleside) and Jane Ledwell (co-editor of the collection of essays Anne around the World: L.M. Montgomery and Her Classic). Emerging out of an international conference held at the University of Prince Edward Island in June 2014, the volume seeks to resituate Montgomery as a major war writer. It features original scholarship by Elizabeth Epperly, Susan Fisher, Maureen O. Gallagher, Irene Gammel, Sarah Glassford, Caroline E. Jones, Andrea McKenzie, E. Holly Pike, Laura M. Robinson, and Jonathan F. Vance. It will be published by McGill-Queen’s University Press early in May.

L.M. Montgomery’s Complete Journals: The Ontario Years, 1918–1921, edited by Jen Rubio, reproduces journal entries that Montgomery wrote between the ages of forty-three and forty-seven and follows on the heels of last year’s volume covering the years 1911 to 1917. Featuring an introduction by Elizabeth Epperly, this volume marks some major changes in Montgomery’s life, including the end of the Great War, a lawsuit against her exploitative first publisher, and the devastating loss of a relative whom she referred to as “my more than sister.” It will be published by Rock’s Mills Press in May.

Finally, at the end of May, Nimbus Publishing of Halifax will release After Many Years, a collection of twenty-one of Montgomery’s short stories selected and introduced by Carolyn Strom Collins and the late Christy Woster. These stories, which were originally published in North American periodicals between 1900 and 1939, were rediscovered by collectors only recently. My personal favourite of these stories is “Tomorrow Comes,” which anticipates both Little Elizabeth in Anne of Windy Poplars and Jane in Jane of Lantern Hill.

The publication of these four titles, particularly at a time when two sets of adaptations of Anne of Green Gables are airing worldwide, shows that interest in Montgomery’s work shows no signs of tapering off. Stay tuned in the coming months for a sneak preview of what’s due out this fall!

Cover Art for Four More Anne Reissues by Virago Modern Classics

Virago Press has just released the covers of four more Anne reissues that it will be publishing as part of its Virago Modern Classics imprint later this year: Anne of Windy Willows (published as Anne of Windy Poplars in North America), Anne’s House of Dreams, Anne of Ingleside, and Rainbow Valley. As I mentioned in January when I posted the covers of the previous Virago editions, the artwork for all these editions is by UK-based artist Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini.

Cover art for Anne of Windy Willows (Virago Press, 2017) Cover art for Anne's House of Dreams (Virago Press, 2017) Cover art for Anne of Ingleside (Virago Press, 2017) Cover art for Rainbow Valley (Virago Press, 2017)

These editions will be released in spring 2017 in the United Kingdom and in fall 2017 in North America.

The Blythes Are Quoted to Join Penguin Modern Classics Series

The Blythes Are Quoted (Viking Canada, 2009)I’m thrilled to announce that my edition of L.M. Montgomery’s rediscovered final book, The Blythes Are Quoted, which Penguin Canada published in 2009, will be republished in October 2017 as part of the Penguin Canada Modern Classics imprint! It can be pre-ordered through the Penguin Random House Canada website and through all book vendors.

Given that 2017 marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of Montgomery’s death, and given that the typescript for the book was apparently delivered to her publisher the very day of her death (which was interpreted by her family as a suicide), I am especially pleased that the book will be released again during this anniversary year.

More details about this new edition, including cover art, will be published here as soon as they’re available!

Cover Art for Three Anne Reissues from Virago Modern Classics

Virago Press, an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group (London), has released the covers of its reissues of Anne of Green GablesAnne of Avonlea, and Anne of the Island, scheduled for publication in March 2017 as part of the Virago Modern Classics series!

Anne of Green Gables (Virago Press, 2017) Anne of Avonlea (Virago Press, 2017) Anne of the Island (Virago Press, 2017)

These will be followed by reissues of Anne of Windy Willows (the UK version of Anne of Windy Poplars), Anne’s House of DreamsAnne of Ingleside, and Rainbow Valley later in spring 2017.

A number of Montgomery books have appeared within this imprint already: Emily of New MoonEmily Climbs, and Emily’s Quest in 2013, followed by Rilla of Ingleside and Jane of Lantern Hill in 2014. UK-based artist Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini contributed the artwork for all these titles.

Emily of New Moon (Virago Press, 2013) Emily Climbs (Virago Press, 2013) Emily's Quest (Virago Press, 2013) Rilla of Ingleside (Virago Press, 2014) Jane of Lantern Hill (Virago Press, 2014)

The L.M. Montgomery Reader: Three-Volume Set

The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volumes 1–3, edited by Benjamin Lefebvre
The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volumes 1–3, edited by Benjamin Lefebvre

I’m pleased to announce that all three volumes of my critical anthology The L.M. Montgomery Reader are now available as a hardcover set from University of Toronto Press!

A tremendous resource for fans and scholars alike, the three-volume The L.M. Montgomery Reader gathers together a captivating selection of material, much of it recently rediscovered, on the life, work, and critical reception of one of Canada’s most enduringly popular authors.

Collecting material on Montgomery’s life (Volume One), her critical reputation (Volume Two), and reviews of her books (Volume Three), leading Montgomery scholar Benjamin Lefebvre traces the interplay between the author and the critic, as well as between the private and the public Montgomery. Each volume includes an extensive introduction and detailed commentary on the documents that provides the context for these primary sources, many of them freshly unearthed from archives and digital collections and never before published in book form.

These volumes have received tremendous praise from reviewers:

“While Lefebvre’s The L.M. Montgomery Reader is a vital resource of primary sources from and secondary assessments of one of Canada’s most popular twentieth-century authors, it is his insightful and knowledgeable analysis that shapes and gives meaning to the collection. . . . The depth of his knowledge results in a work that is as comprehensible as it is comprehensive.” –André Narbonne, American Review of Canadian Studies

“Lefebvre’s archival research is thorough and often brilliant, making the Reader an invaluable trove not only for Montgomery scholars but also for those working with the reception history of Canadian writers, especially women before Laurence, Munro, and Atwood. For Montgomery completists, the Reader is irresistible. For those engaged in Montgomery studies or Canadian literature more generally, it is invaluable.” –Anne Furlong, University of Toronto Quarterly

“With this volume, Lefebvre broadens our understanding of Montgomery’s reception and reputation both within Canada and internationally, unearthing previously obscure content and commentary and making it accessible to a far wider audience. This reader will thus prove a valuable resource to both existing and future scholars of Montgomery’s work and life, as well as those fans keen for a little more insight into the ever-elusive figure of L.M. Montgomery.” –Sarah Galletly, British Journal of Canadian Studies

“Lefebvre has uncovered a cache of new, important material in an already impressive and crowded field of Montgomery scholarship. . . . His sensitive editing of the material brings the public side of Montgomery into better focus as she fields endless questions about how she became a writer, how Anne came to be and whether or not she was a real girl and what the author thought of young women in her day. [This book will] deepen our knowledge and understanding of this beloved Canadian icon.” –Laurie Glenn Norris,Telegraph–Journal (Saint John, NB)

“Lefebvre has thoroughly mined earlier scholars’ bibliographies and online newspaper archives to find reviews in periodicals from eight different countries, including the Bookman (London), the Globe (Toronto) and Vogue (New York). . . . Collectively, these reviews . . . represent a superb barometer of [Montgomery’s] fluctuating cultural value as a writer.” –Irene Gammel, The Times Literary Supplement

The three-volume set as well as individual volumes can be obtained directly from University of Toronto Press or from your local bookseller.

Rilla of Ingleside on Remembrance Day

Cover art for Rilla of Ingleside, published by McClelland and Stewart (Canada) and Frederick A. Stokes Company (USA) in 1921.
Cover art for Rilla of Ingleside, published by McClelland and Stewart (Canada) and Frederick A. Stokes Company (USA) in 1921.

“And you will tell your children of the Idea we fought and died for—teach them it must be lived for as well as died for, else the price paid for it will have been given for naught. This will be part of your work, Rilla. And if you—all you girls back in the homeland—do it, then we who don’t come back will know that you have not ‘broken faith’ with us.”

Announcing the publication of L.M. Montgomery’s Rainbow Valleys: The Ontario Years, 1911–1942

L.M. Montgomery's Rainbow ValleysCongratulations to Rita Bode and Lesley D. Clement on their new collection of essays, L.M. Montgomery’s Rainbow Valleys: The Ontario Years, 1911–1942, which has just been published by McGill-Queen’s University Press! The volume consists of fourteen chapters of original scholarship by Kate Macdonald Butler, Mary Beth CavertLesley D. Clement, Melanie J. Fishbane, Natalie Forest, Caroline E. Jones, E. Holly Pike, Laura M. Robinson, Linda Rodenburg, Margaret Steffler, Kate Sutherland, William V. Thompson, Elizabeth Waterston, and Emily Woster, as well as an interlude by Katherine Cameron, an introduction by the volume editors, and an appendix by the volume editors with assistance from Kristina Eldridge and Chloe Verner.

“With its interest in placing Montgomery’s work in new cultural and historical contexts, L.M. Montgomery’s Rainbow Valleys expands our understanding of this canonical Canadian author. Although there is no disputing that PEI had an enduring impact on Montgomery’s literary sensibility, Ontario played its part too, as the essays in this collection abundantly reveal.” –Janice Fiamengo, University of Ottawa

Announcing L.M. Montgomery’s Rainbow Valleys

L.M. Montgomery's Rainbow ValleysAnnouncing L.M. Montgomery’s Rainbow Valleys: The Ontario Years, 1911–1942, a collection of essays edited by Rita Bode and Lesley D. Clement, to be published by McGill-Queen’s University Press in October 2015!

Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874-1942) and Anne of Green Gables will always be associated with Prince Edward Island, Montgomery’s childhood home and the setting of her most famous novels. Yet, after marrying Rev. Ewan Macdonald in 1911, she lived in Ontario for three decades. There she became a mother of two sons, fulfilled the duties of a minister’s wife, advocated for copyright protection and recognition of Canadian literature, wrote prolifically, and reached a global readership that has never waned.

Engaging with discussions on both her life and her fiction, L.M. Montgomery’s Rainbow Valleys explores the joys, sorrows, and literature that emerged from her transformative years in Ontario. While this time brought Montgomery much pleasure and acclaim, it was also challenged and complicated by a sense of displacement and the need to self-fashion and self-dramatize as she struggled to align her private self with her public persona. Written by scholars from various fields and including a contribution by Montgomery’s granddaughter, this volume covers topics such as war, religion, women’s lives, friendships, loss, and grief, focusing on a range of related themes to explore Montgomery’s varied states of mind.

An in-depth study of one of Canada’s most internationally acclaimed authors, L.M. Montgomery’s Rainbow Valleys shows how she recreated herself as an Ontario writer and adapted to the rapidly changing world of the twentieth century.

“Duty and Privilege”: L.M. Montgomery’s Rilla of Ingleside

Rilla of Ingleside (Viking Canada, 2010)

“In my latest story, ‘Rilla of Ingleside,’ I have tried, as far as in me lies, to depict the fine and splendid way in which the girls of Canada reacted to the Great War—their bravery, patience and self-sacrifice. The book is theirs in a sense in which none of my other books have been: for my other books were written for anyone who might like to read them: but ‘Rilla’ was written for the girls of the great young land I love, whose destiny it will be their duty and privilege to shape and share.” —L.M. Montgomery, “How I Became a Writer,” Manitoba Free Press, 1921

This edition of Rilla of Ingleside—the only modern edition to consist of the full text of the original 1921 edition—includes introductions to the novel and to the First World War, maps of Europe, war poems by L.M. Montgomery and Virna Sheard, and an extensive glossary of terms, allusions, and events. It was edited by Benjamin Lefebvre and Andrea McKenzie and is available exclusively from Penguin Random House Canada.

For more on Montgomery’s depiction of the First World War in her fiction and in her journals, please visit the website of Laura M. Robinson’s excellent exhibit The Canadian Home Front: L.M. Montgomery’s Reflections on the First World War.

For more on Rilla of Ingleside as one of the only near-contemporaneous accounts of the First World War by a Canadian woman, see the following sites:

Announcing The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 3

The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 3: A Legacy in Review

I am very pleased to announce the forthcoming publication, in fall 2014, of the third (and final!) volume of The L.M. Montgomery Reader, subtitled A Legacy in Review. It collects for the first time over four hundred reviews of Montgomery’s twenty-four books, originally appearing in periodicals from eight countries. The selections are accompanied by an extensive introduction as well as an epilogue that provides an overview of reviews of twenty-four additional books attributed to L.M. Montgomery after her death.

“Now that it is complete, The L.M. Montgomery Reader is sure to be the authoritative source on Montgomery’s critical and popular reception as a bestselling author. Benjamin Lefebvre has devoted many years to the Reader, and one cannot imagine anyone better suited for the work.”—Janice Fiamengo, Department of English, University of Ottawa

Announcing The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 2

The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 2: A Critical HeritageAnnouncing the forthcoming publication of The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 2: A Critical Heritage, which will be published by University of Toronto Press in May 2014.

Following on the heels of the first volume of The L.M. Montgomery Reader, this second volume narrates the development of L.M. Montgomery’s (1874–1942) critical reputation in the seventy years since her death. Edited by leading Montgomery scholar Benjamin Lefebvre, it traces milestones and turning points such as adaptations for stage and screen, posthumous publications, and the development of Montgomery Studies as a scholarly field. Lefebvre’s introduction also considers Montgomery’s publishing history in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom at a time when her work remained in print not because it was considered part of a university canon of literature, but simply due to the continued interest of readers.

The twenty samples of Montgomery scholarship included in this volume broach topics such as gender and genre, narrative strategies in fiction and life writing, translation, and Montgomery’s archival papers. They reflect shifts in Montgomery’s critical reputation decade by decade: the 1960s, when a milestone chapter on Montgomery coincided with a second wave of texts seeking to create a canon of Canadian literature; the 1970s, in the midst of a sustained reassessment of popular fiction and of literature by women; the 1980s, when the publication of Montgomery’s life writing, which coincided with the broadcast of critically acclaimed television productions adapted from her fiction, radically altered how readers perceived her and her work; the 1990s, when a conference series on Montgomery began to generate a sustained amount of scholarship; and the opening years of the twenty-first century, when the field of Montgomery Studies became both international and interdisciplinary.

This is the first book to consider the posthumous life of one of Canada’s most enduringly popular authors.

From Proofs to Book

I was thrilled to receive, last Friday afternoon, a padded envelope containing my first author’s copy of my new book, The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 1: A Life in Print, published by University of Toronto Press. I’m always rather in awe of the transformation from a PDF of proofs to a physical book, and this time was no different. I’m enormously pleased with how it turned out, and I do look forward to hearing the reactions of those who read it.

What is especially gratifying, of course, is that it’s taken six years to reach the point where I could hold the book in my hands as a tangible object. Between August 2007 and July 2009, I held a postdoctoral fellowship (funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, otherwise known as SSHRC) at the University of Alberta while living in my current hometown of Waterloo, Ontario (it’s a long story). My project was entitled “Branding a Life: The Case of L.M. Montgomery™” and my plan was to write a book-length study about Montgomery’s body of work, leading up to her final work, The Blythes Are Quoted, which at the time remained unpublished). Although I did a lot of researching and writing during those two years, I also spent a fair bit of time travelling to libraries and archives in order to track down Montgomery’s short stories, serials, poems, essays, and interviews, including a good number that are not listed in Lucy Maud Montgomery: A Preliminary Bibliography (1986). Initially my plan was to introduce all of this little-known material in the book, but then two things happened: first, Penguin Canada accepted The Blythes Are Quoted in March 2008, and second, I realized that I now had so many essays and interviews for a book of their own. Initially my plan was to put together a volume entitled How I Began: L.M. Montgomery’s Essays and Interviews 1910–1939. But then, somewhat inevitably, I kept finding material that I found just as fascinating—early scholarship, entries in reference works, profiles, and book reviews—and started to think of ways to place all this work in the context of Montgomery’s publishing history within her lifetime and in the seven decades since her death. And soon, the book-length study that I had originally planned got shelved, and the three-volume L.M. Montgomery Reader emerged. Like most big projects, this one has been several years in the making and it has evolved considerably as time went on, but I am very happy with the final shape of each of the three volumes.

Speaking of the three volumes, I’m pleased to announce that Volume 2: A Critical Heritage will be published in May 2014! And who knows? Maybe at some point I’ll be able to resume work on the book-length study that I had originally planned!

[Note: This post originally appeared on Room of Ben’s Own: Homepage for Benjamin Lefebvre.]