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Congratulations to Vanessa Brown!

Congratulations to Vanessa Brown of London, Ontario, who won the second prize in Canada’s First National Book Collecting Contest for best book collectors under the age of thirty, sponsored by the Bibliographical Society of Canada (BSC), the Antiquarian Booksellers of Association of Canada (ABAC), and the Alcuin Society. Vanessa won for her collection, “The L.M. Montgomery Collection in the Forest City.” She was recently interviewed by Mark Medley on the National Post book blog, “The Afterword.”

I remember the first time I bought a book about Lucy Maud Montgomery that wasn’t by her but about her. I was at a shop here in town called Portobello Road, which is no longer there. It was a great shop. There was a publisher’s proof of a biography by Harry Bruce. It was exciting to read about her, to find out there was so much more to learn. Then, of course, I bought the journals. And the obsession grew.

L.M. Montgomery Visiting Scholar Program 2009-2010

Please note the following opportunity at the L.M. Montgomery Institute, University of Prince Edward Island:

The L.M. Montgomery Institute (LMMI), University of Prince Edward Island, invites scholars active in research related to the work and life of L.M. Montgomery to submit an application for the L.M. Montgomery Visiting Scholar-Program (1 July 2009- 30 June 2010).

The scholar will undertake or complete a scholarly project that advances our understanding and knowledge of Montgomery and her work. Innovative projects which serve to disseminate and extend knowledge about Montgomery are of special interest. The scholar will also be invited to contribute to planning and organizing the LMMI biennial conference in 2010 and will be invited to make a presentation at the conference. For the duration of the term, the scholar will represent LMMI at selective events and participate in the LMMI Committee (by tele-conference). While the scholar will visit LMMI, it is recognized that the visiting scholar may wish to undertake much of the project outside of Prince Edward Island. (It is understood that this position may be held in conjunction with other positions in other provinces or countries). The position offers: research assistance, a stipend of $4,800.00, a travel budget of $4,000.00 and the use of the LMMI office and research room.

Consideration will be given to university-affiliated and independent scholars who have a current research project. In your letter please explain why you are interested in this position and detail in no more than three to four pages the particular project you plan to undertake. Two names of referees (with their contact information) and a CV are also required for the application.

To request further information or to send your application contact:

L.M. Montgomery Visiting Scholar Program
2009-2010 Committee
L.M. Montgomery Institute
University of Prince Edward Island
550 University Ave.
Prince Edward Island
C1A 4P3
Telephone 902- 566-0460

Deadline for submission: 5 March, 2009

Mollie Gillen, 1908–2009

The following article by Sandra Martin appears in today’s Globe and Mail, concerning Mollie Gillen, author of The Wheel of Things: The Life of L.M. Montgomery, who died in Toronto on 3 January 2009, at the age of 100:

Mollie Gillen was a war bride and aspiring writer who went on to become the author of The Wheel of Things, an early biography of Lucy Maud Montgomery.

An Australian by birth, she immigrated to Canada from England after the Second World War and began her writing career as an information officer in Ottawa. After moving to Toronto, she worked for many years as an editor and staff writer at Chatelaine.

Her books also include The Masseys: Founding Family; The Prince and His Lady; The Assassination of the Prime Minister; The Search for John Small; and The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet.

Mollie Gillen was born Mollie Woolnough, on Nov. 1, 1908, in Sydney, Australia. She died on Jan. 3, 2009, in Scarborough General Hospital in Toronto. She was 100. She is survived by her daughter, Barbara Gillen. She also leaves a sister, and her extended family.

Please click here for the full article. A full obituary should appear soon.

Updating the Classic

I just the following article on the website:

Writers challenged to update Wind in the Willows on its 100th birthday

The 100th anniversary of Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows will be celebrated with a competition to write a modern version of the children’s classic.

The River & Rowing Museum in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, in Britain has launched a writing competition that challenges authors to put a modern take on Grahame’s themes.

“Kenneth Grahame knew all about the power of the river on the imagination, and on our real lives,” museum representative Paul Mainds told BBC.

“This competition gives authors the opportunity to re-animate these themes and make them more relevant for today’s young readers, especially in light of the environmental issues that now affect our rivers and the wildlife that lives in and around them.”

Writers are challenged to pen a “river-related” short story “for our times.”

The museum, on the river Thames, has a permanent exhibition dedicated to Wind in the Willows.

Grahame’s tale of the adventures of Toad, Mole, Ratty and Badger was published Oct. 8, 1908, four months after he left his job at the Bank of England….

The news of this competition made me wonder about Anne of Green Gables, which was published less than four months before Wind in the Willows. If there were a competition to write a modern version of this novel, how would it be done? What would need to be updated, changed, altered, or reemphasized?

A Note Found on Montgomery’s Deathbed

An article on the front page of this morning’s Globe and Mail“Is this Lucy Maud’s suicide note?”-reproduces the following scrap of paper found on Montgomery’s bedside the afternoon she died:

This copy is unfinished and never will be. It is in a terrible state because I made it when I had begun to suffer my terrible breakdown of 1940. It must end here. If any publishers wish to publish extracts from it under the terms of my will they must stop here. The tenth volume can never be copied and must not be made public during my lifetime. Parts of it are too terrible and would hurt people. I have lost my mind by spells and I do not dare think what I may do in those spells. May God forgive me and I hope everyone else will forgive me even if they cannot understand. My position is too awful to endure and nobody realizes it. What an end to a life in which I tried always to do my best.

It is accompanied by a follow-up article by James Adams, “Lucy Maud suffered ‘unbearable psychological pain,'” which includes extracts from an e-mail interview with Mary Henley Rubio, whose biography of Montgomery, Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings, will be published next month by Doubleday Canada.

Thanks to Joshua Ginter of the Centre for Research in Young People’s Texts and Cultures, University of Winnipeg, for bringing this article to my attention.

The Globe and Mail: “The Heartbreaking Truth”

An article titled “The Heartbreaking Truth about Anne’s Creator,” written by Kate Macdonald Butler (Montgomery’s granddaughter), appears in today’s Globe and Mail (pp. F1, F6):

Despite her great success, it is known that she suffered from depression, that she was isolated, sad and filled with worry and dread for much of her life. But our family has never spoken publicly about the extent of her illness.

What has never been revealed is that L.M. Montgomery took her own life at the age of 67 through a drug overdose.

UPDATE: The full text of the article has been archived here.

From Break-In at Montgomery Birthplace


The New London home where Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables, was born was broken into on Monday night.

The incident was part of a string of break and enters in the area that night.

The board that runs the museum and bookstore says none of the displays were damaged, and money isn’t kept in the facility overnight.

Montgomery was born in 1874 in a small white and green house, which sits at the corner of Route 6 and 20. A replica of the writer’s wedding dress and scrapbooks containing stories and poems are displayed at the museum.


Chronicles of My Inbox

Today I received notices of three separate L.M. Montgomery events and exhibits and a video.

From Mary Beth Cavert (Minnesota): A link to a page devoted to details and photos of the L.M. Montgomery Literary Society’s first Anne event;

From Rita Bode (Trent University): A notice that Robarts Library of the University of Toronto has launched its own exhibit titled “Picture of Green Gables Farm,” which runs from 21 April to 21 May 2008 on the first floor of the Robarts Library. Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the publication of Anne of Green Gables, the collection includes a number of editions, translations, adaptations, other books by the author, and items related to Prince Edward Island.

From Helen Salmon (University of Guelph library): Between 23 and 26 October 2008, the University of Guelph will host “The Cultural Influence of Lucy Maud Montgomery,” a symposium that will focus on Guelph’s extensive archival collection of Montgomery materials:

The university has undertaken an extensive digitization project to make its extensive collection of Montgomery memorabilia — including her private journals, scrapbooks, handiwork, photographs, and other records – more accessible to Montgomery scholars and fans everywhere. The symposium will offer the very first opportunity to explore the newly launched collections website, examine the archival collections first-hand, view an L.M. Montgomery exhibit at the University’s art gallery, and listen to speakers who will explore her impact on readers, writers, and women in the 20th century. Join with Canada’s foremost Montgomery scholars, biographers, enthusiasts, and fans to recognize her world-wide legacy and explore the mystery of her creativity. This four day weekend event will include coach tours to view several of  L.M. Montgomery’s residences in Ontario, the opening of an art exhibit,  film viewings, panel discussions, and scholarly presentations which will highlight author’s contributions to literary and popular culture.