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Category: The L.M. Montgomery Library

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!

L.M. Montgomery Titles at 50% Off!

I’m so pleased to pass along the fact that University of Toronto Press is having a Black Friday sale between now and the end of November, and several of my L.M. Montgomery books are now 50% off. These include the first two volumes in The L.M. Montgomery Library – namely, A Name for Herself: Selected Writings, 1891–1917 and A World of Songs: Selected Poems, 1894–1921, both of which were published in the last year – as well as the three-volume critical anthology The L.M. Montgomery Reader, which is discounted at 50% off compared to the price of buying each volume individually.

I was also thrilled to come across Jennifer Scott‘s review of A Name for Herself in the Fall 2019 issue of Victorian Periodicals Review.

“Lefebvre, one of the top Montgomery scholars in the world, has painstakingly collected these scattered publications from throughout Montgomery’s career to provide a valuable resource … By including Montgomery’s contributions to these publications, many of which were fleeting, Lefebvre enriches our knowledge of the periodical landscape in North America and demonstrates how these magazines and newspapers were important vehicles for women authors in Canada and the United States.”

Sale ends midnight on 1 December 2019!

April Fool’s Day from Cynthia

In light of the fact that today is the first of April, I thought I’d share with you “Cynthia’s” account of being April fooled, appearing in “Around the Table,” L.M. Montgomery’s newspaper column, which she published in the Halifax Daily Echo from September 1901 to May 1902.

Did you get April fooled last week? At our house we all arose on April’s birth morning with a grim determination not to believe a word that our best friends said to us or tamper with anything that looked suspicious the whole day through. And yet, the sorrowful fact remains that – I blush to admit it – I fell into the very first trap with grace and agility. 

When I went downstairs Ted was in the hall looking over a morning paper with a very shocked face. 

“Cynthia,” he said, with a shudder – oh, it was very well done. In justice to myself I must say that – “this is frightful. There has been a terrible accident up at the north end – nine lives lost.” 

“Oh,” I gasped, feeling a dozen thrills of horror. “Oh, Ted, what happened?” 

“A street car ran over a cat,” said Ted solemnly. 

And there I was! If it had even been a new joke there would have been some excuse for me. But it is old – so old! Why, it has been going the rounds of the funny columns for years. 

Well, I tried to take it meekly and all through breakfast I brooded over my revenge. When Ted started to go down town I called to him and asked him if he would mind doing an errand for me. He said no, of course not. So I wrote out a memorandum and told him to get me three yards of sparrowbill purple ribbon. 

“Be very careful to get sparrowbill,” I said. “No other shade of purple will do. I want it to match my new suit. I daresay they won’t have it at all the stores. It’s a new shade.”

“I’ll hunt around until I get it,” said Ted so obligingly that I felt a slight pang of remorse – until I remembered that hideous joke. 

When Ted came home at night he looked as if he were suffering from that tired feeling. 

“I couldn’t get that fiendish shade of ribbon you wanted, Cynthia,” he said wearily. “I’ve been to every dry goods store in Halifax and the clerks all looked at me as if they thought I was crazy. Said they’d never heard of sparrowbill purple.” 

“No more did I,” I said maliciously. “You shouldn’t go gunning for new shades on the first of April, Teddy-boy.” 

Ted, not being dull of comprehension, understood. He grinned. 

“Guess we are square,” he said frankly.

The full text of “Around the Table” appears in A Name for Herself: Selected Writings, 1891–1917, available from the publisher or from your favourite bookseller.

Christmas in Halifax, 1901

Heading for "Christmas Shopping in Halifax Stores," showing the title, a large bough of holly, and two figures dressed in winter clothing.
Header for “Christmas Shopping in Halifax Stores,” Halifax Daily Echo, 9 December 1901

When L.M. Montgomery worked for the Halifax Daily Echo in 1901–1902, she was given a wide range of occasional writing assignments, most of which she never discussed, let alone saved in her scrapbooks, meaning that they cannot be identified now. One writing assignment she did mention in her journals and in her celebrity memoir, “The Alpine Path,” consisted of writing up the holiday specials of Halifax stores that were regular advertisers in the paper, but what she never revealed was the sheer scope of the assignment: she wrote advertising copy for ninety stores, for a total of 13,000 words (more than half the length of “The Alpine Path”). Although Montgomery found these pieces tedious to write, they make for fascinating reading because of how much they reveal about advertising practices more than a century ago.

I include in A Name for Herself: Selected Writings, 1891–1917 some highlights from this assignment, called “Christmas Shopping in Halifax Stores.” Here, as an online exclusive, are Montgomery’s opening paragraph and one of my favourite write-ups from this assignment.

Again Christmas tide approaches and the wide-awake shopkeepers have made preparations for a good season’s trade. All branches of trade feel the effect of Christmas buying, and the consumer feels it perhaps most than all, but he grows reckless with his money in preparing for the season of peace and goodwill. At times he is bothered in the selection of goods and articles which he may deem suitable and worthy of the occasion, and in order to assist readers who might possibly find themselves in such a dilemma the Echo will take the liberty of calling attention to stores and shops where Christmas purchases may be made to advantage.

S. Cunard & Co. 

Stoves are little use without fuel, so when one orders a stove coal is brought to mind. S. Cunard & Co.’s is one of the oldest coal dealing firms in Halifax, and their reputation is built on a solid foundation. They deal in all kinds of coals, hard and soft, and having North and South end depots are in a position to supply all parts of the city at short notice. Much coal is given at Christmas to the poor, and it is a thoughtful and in most cases exceedingly welcome gift. With such arrangements as S. Cunard & Co. are equipped with there is little trouble occasioned by one who wishes coal sent to a poor acquaintance. He simply rings up one of the firm’s telephones and gives his order, and the firm does the rest, even to putting the coal in the cellar, if he desires it. Cunard & Co. say that the hard coal with which they supplied their customers the past season turned out to be the best they ever handled. The firm has still a lot of this coal on hand now, and can supply it promptly. 

And on 23 December 1901, Montgomery – or, rather, “Cynthia” – wrote in her column “Around the Table” about a late snowfall that was apparently a rarity in Halifax at the time:

I believe we are going to have a white Christmas after all. I’m so glad. I hate a “green” Christmas. You know, when a Christmas is a dirty-grayey-browney affair, looking as if it had been left over about a hundred years ago, and had been in soak ever since it is called a green Christmas. Don’t ask me why! As Lord Dundreary says, “There are thome thingth no fellow can underthtand.”

We don’t get a white Christmas oftener than once in a blue moon, so it is something to be duly thankful for. It is the only real, guaranteed Christmas. Any other kind is a fraud and imitation. Always ask your dealer for a white Christmas and insist on having it.

Lots of snow, making the world look like a magnified Christmas card, crisp, exhilarating air and jingles of sleigh bells everywhere – that’s as it should be. No “green” Christmas for me, an it please ye.

It’s an apt sentiment, since this year, here in Kitchener, Ontario, it also looked like it was going to be a “green” Christmas. But then it snowed overnight – just enough of a dusting to cover the dead lawn but not nearly enough to warrant a lot of shovelling, which is a bonus.

I wish everyone who reads this website a safe and happy holiday season, and I look forward to continuing the conversation about L.M. Montgomery’s life, work, and legacy in 2019.

A Name for Herself Currently an Amazon Bestseller!

I am so pleased to report that A Name for Herself: Selected Writings, 1891–1917, the first volume in The L.M. Montgomery Library, is currently an Amazon.ca bestseller! In addition to being ranked 6,670 in terms of overall Amazon.ca bestsellers, it’s currently #1 in two categories – “Books > Literature & Fiction > Canadian > History & Criticism” and “Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Women’s Studies > Women Writers” – as well as #3 in “Books > Literature & Fiction > History & Criticism > Women Writers & Feminist Theory.” Bestseller rankings on Amazon tend to change pretty quickly, so I’m going to enjoy this while I can!

The odd thing is that I looked up the book on Amazon.ca while taking a break from proofreading one of L.M. Montgomery’s earliest short stories, part of a subset of school stories that she published in the Philadelphia Times. That will appear in a future volume in the series.

After spending so many years gathering this material together, it’s really gratifying to know that fellow Montgomery readers now have the opportunity to read this periodical work too.

Amazon.ca listing for A Name for Herself: Selected Writings, 1891–1917 at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, 8 December 2018

A Name for Herself: 50% Off Today Only!

Cover art for A NAME FOR HERSELF: SELECTED WRITINGS, 1891–1917, by L.M. Montgomery, edited by Benjamin LefebvreI cannot remember the time when I was not writing, or when I did not mean to be an author. To write has always been my central purpose around which every effort and hope and ambition of my life has grouped itself. – “The Alpine Path: The Story of My Career

I was very pleased to receive an email this morning from University of Toronto Press announcing that A Name for Herself: Selected Writings, 1891–1917, the first volume in The L.M. Montgomery Library, had been selected as the first book in its 12 Days of Reading campaign. This means that, today only, both the paperback edition and the hardcover edition are 50% off. Order your copy today!

I was also happy to discover yesterday, on the occasion of the 144th anniversary of Montgomery’s birth, that A Name for Herself had been included in the 2018 Book and Gift Guide from Canada’s History.

In the days and weeks ahead, I’ll share with you some exclusive extracts from the book. Today’s extract is from Montgomery’s newspaper column, “Around the Table,” which is collected in its entirety for the first time in my volume. Her column for 2 December 1901 begins with a rumination on the changing seasons:

We have had some forewarnings of winter this last week, haven’t we? The air grew cold and crisp and the poor little sparrows twittered and fluffed out their feathers; and one morning the good folks of Halifax wakened up to see a filmy scarf of white over their city – not much of a snowfall, but just enough to pick the roofs out in dark lines and make the streets for a few brief moments into avenues of marble and invest the glimpses of distant hills with an unreal, fairy-like beauty. The first snowfall of every year has a perennial novelty. There is always a certain suggestion of miracle or magic about it. We go to bed some night, looking out on a dull, gray, lifeless world from which all zest and sparkle seem to have departed. Next morning, presto, change!

Somebody – something – has been at work in the hours of darkness and the sad old world is transformed. And we look upon it with as much delight as if we had never seen it before – this wonderful white loveliness that came while we slept and vanishes again before the morning is far spent.

A Name for Herself will be followed by A World of Songs, a selection of fifty poems originally published between 1894 and 1921, available from University of Toronto Press in January 2019. Volumes of Montgomery’s complete short stories and complete poems are currently in progress.

A Name for Herself Now Available!


I’m very pleased to announce the publication of A Name for Herself: Selected Writings, 1891–1917, from University of Toronto Press. This book, which is the first volume in The L.M. Montgomery Library, collects for the first time the majority of the non-fiction and miscellaneous pieces that Montgomery published starting as a teenager and ending at the height of her career as an internationally bestselling author. Among the highlights of the volume is the full text of “Around the Table,” a newspaper column she published in Halifax over a nine-month period, and a new edition of her celebrity memoir “The Alpine Path: The Story of My Career” with fascinating new links to her journals and letters. Montgomery’s text is supplemented by a preface, headnotes, an afterword, and notes that provide historical and biographical context and that place Montgomery in conversation with English-speaking women writers who preceded her (particularly George Eliot and Charlotte Brontë) and the strategies they used to succeed, including opting for initials or for male or androgynous pen names in order to help their work circulate in the marketplace.

The book can be ordered at a discount through the University of Toronto Press website and can also be purchased through your favourite bookseller. The second volume in The L.M. Montgomery Library, A World of Songs: Selected Poems, 1894–1921 (January 2019), is available for pre-order.

Be sure to subscribe to this blog for future updates on volumes in this series, including sneak previews, cover art, and notices about book signings and readings!

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Cover Art for First Two Titles in the L.M. Montgomery Library

Cover art for A NAME FOR HERSELF: SELECTED WRITINGS, 1891–1917, by L.M. Montgomery, edited by Benjamin LefebvreCover art for A WORLD OF SONGS: SELECTED POEMS, 1894–1921, by L.M. Montgomery, edited by Benjamin Lefebvre

I’m happy to share with you the cover art for the first two volumes in The L.M. Montgomery Library. The first volume, A Name for Herself: Selected Writings, 1891–1917, is now up for pre-order on the publisher’s website, where there’s also now a dedicated page for the series, or through your favourite bookseller; it will be released later this fall. The second volume, A World of Songs: Selected Poems, 1894–1921, will be available in February 2019.

Be sure to subscribe to this blog for future updates on these volumes, including sneak previews, full tables of contents, and notices about book signings and readings!

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Brontë, Eliot, Montgomery, and Anne with an “E”

Yesterday, I took a hard copy of the proofs of my afterword to A Name for Herself: Selected Writings, 1891–1917 with me when I went to get an oil change, because when a deadline looms, every spare minute counts. Because the goal of the volumes in The L.M. Montgomery Library is not simply to reprint Montgomery’s work but also to provide some original content that’ll place that work within its historical and literary contexts, the afterword of this first volume discusses Montgomery’s career and her choice of an androgynous signature (“L.M. Montgomery”) in the context of British women writers who preceded her, especially Charlotte Brontë and George Eliot. There are numerous parallels between these three authors, particularly between Montgomery and Brontë, to the point that Carole Gerson, in her contribution to Storm and Dissonance: L.M. Montgomery and Conflict (2006), declares that “at one level, Montgomery is always rewriting Jane Eyre.” I’m going a bit further with this, speculating that Montgomery may have named her two major book protagonists Anne and Emily after two of the Brontë sisters but refrained from naming a third one Charlotte in order to make the point of connection less definite. (Not to mention that Charlotte Brontë’s second novel is entitled Shirley.)

Although I was somewhat distracted from my proofreading by the soccer game between Brazil and Belgium, I reached the endnote in which I mentioned another point of connection between Montgomery and Brontë – the fact that the titles of all seven episodes of the first season of the CBC/Netflix series Anne with an “E” are quotations from Jane Eyre: “Your Will Shall Decide Your Destiny,” “I Am No Bird, and No Net Ensnares Me,” “But What Is So Headstrong as Youth?,” “An Inward Treasure Born,” “Tightly Knotted to a Similar String,” “Remorse Is the Poison of Life,” and “Wherever You Are Is My Home.”

Then I remembered that the second season of Anne with an “E” was released that day on Netflix everywhere in the world (except Canada, meaning that I’ll have to wait until late September, when it starts airing on the CBC, to watch it), so I posted on Facebook a request from my non-Canadian friends with access to Netflix to share the episode titles from the second season, to see if they, too, were quotations from Jane Eyre.

A friend who’s on holiday outside Canada posted the list shortly thereafter:

S2E10: The Growing Good of the World
S2E09: What We Have Been Makes Us What We Are
S2E08: Struggling against the Perception of Facts
S2E07: Memory Has as Many Moods as the Temper
S2E06: I Protest against Any Absolute Conclusion
S2E05: The Determining Acts of Her Life
S2E04: The Painful Eagerness of Unfed Hope
S2E03: The True Seeing Is Within
S2E02: Signs Are Small Measurable Things, but Interpretations Are Illimitable
S2E01: Youth Is the Season of Hope

They sound familiar, right? But they’re not from Jane Eyre. They’re from Middlemarch. By George Eliot.

Looks like I’m going to need another endnote. And maybe I should make the time to read Middlemarch before the new season of Anne with an “E” starts on the CBC.

5 July 1911

One hundred and seven years ago today – on 5 July 1911 – L.M. Montgomery married the Reverend Ewan Macdonald, in Park Corner, Prince Edward Island, at the home of her maternal relatives, the Campbells (the location is now known as the Anne of Green Gables Museum and is a delightful place to visit).

Since I started this website eleven years ago, I’ve blogged on the anniversary of Montgomery’s birth and on the anniversary of her death, but I don’t believe I’ve ever blogged to commemorate her wedding day. This year, as I finish work on a restored and annotated edition of Montgomery’s celebrity memoir “The Alpine Path,” which will appear in A Name for Herself: Selected Writings, 1891–1917, the first volume in The L.M. Montgomery Library, I thought I would take a moment to reflect on what made this day rather complicated for Montgomery, and to consider the contrast between the public face she put on for her guests that day and the clues she planned to leave behind that would make future friends aware of some of the drama that at the time she had to hide.

One aspect that has always amazed me about Montgomery’s journals is the murkiness of her overall portrait of Ewan Macdonald. Montgomery’s first mention of him in her journals is when she announces their engagement, in an entry dated October 1906 in which she devotes far more space outlining why marrying him would be a bad idea before revealing that she’d indeed accepted his proposal, ending with a lukewarm statement: “I feel content.”

The engagement wasn’t exactly promising: Macdonald proposed to her just as he was about to embark on further studies in Scotland, although Mary Henley Rubio notes in her biography of Montgomery that there’s no evidence that he completed any work there, whereas Montgomery would not be free to marry for as long as her elderly maternal grandmother was still living, hence the five-year engagement. Scholars who have tried to establish the composition and submission timeline of Anne of Green Gables based on Montgomery’s few (and conflicting) clues have pointed out that, if the novel was accepted in April 1907 after being refused by four other publishers – as well as an unspecified amount of time in which the typescript sat in a hat box, something the recent Heritage Minute on Montgomery captured very well – then quite possibly Macdonald’s proposal coincided with a particularly discouraging point in her attempt to launch herself from freelance writer of short stories and poems to novelist.

Not only that, but two major changes happened after the 1906 engagement: the publication of Anne of Green Gables in June 1908 changed the trajectory of Montgomery’s career completely, and Macdonald being called to a parish in Leaskdale, Ontario, in early 1910 – something Montgomery does not mention in her journals – meant that she would have to leave Prince Edward Island in order to marry him. In short, marriage would not resemble what either of them had had in mind in 1906. But there’s no record that indicates that Montgomery contemplated breaking off the engagement at any point.

Tombstone for L.M. Montgomery and Ewan Macdonald, Cavendish. Photograph taken 25 June 2008 by Benjamin Lefebvre.

Macdonald proved in many ways to be a difficult husband, according to Montgomery’s account. Not only did he express no interest in Montgomery’s career, but also, he resented her success as an author as well as any tribute she received for her work as a minister’s wife. What’s most noticeable about Montgomery’s record of him in her journals, however, is how often he disappears from the journal for pages at a time, almost as though it often didn’t occur to Montgomery to write about him unless something was wrong. Still, he made a mistake in underestimating the power of her pen. Although Macdonald spelled his name “Ewen,” Montgomery consistently wrote it as “Ewan” in her journals – consequently, everyone now follows her lead. Not only did they name their second surviving son “Ewan Stuart Macdonald,” but also, both spellings appear on their tombstone in Cavendish. Every time I go to the Cavendish cemetery to pay my respects, I ponder this.

I also frequently wonder about the fact that no photograph of the wedding or of Montgomery wearing her wedding dress survives. (The dress itself is on display at the Lucy Maud Montgomery Birthplace in Clifton, PEI.) Instead, we have nine trousseau photographs depicting Montgomery, standing in roughly the same spot, wearing elaborate dresses and hats. Two different combinations of six of these images appear in cropped form in Montgomery’s Selected Journals and Complete Journals, but to me, the uncropped versions are even more fascinating. She must have been aware of the laundry flapping on the clothesline behind her, but if so, I can’t imagine what point she was trying to make. (Actually, on second thought, maybe I can.)

All images courtesy of L.M. Montgomery Collection, Archival and Special Collections, University of Guelph Library.

When she wrote about her wedding day in a retrospective journal entry in 1912, she records feeling “contented” the night before her wedding and again the morning of the wedding, repeating the term she used in her journal the day of her engagement. After the ceremony was over, however, her emotions took a decidedly different turn:

I had been feeling contented all the morning. I had gone through the ceremony and the congratulations unflustered and unregretful. And now, when it was all over and I found myself sitting there by my husband’s side – my husband! – I felt a sudden horrible inrush of rebellion and despair. I wanted to be free! … At that moment if I could have torn the wedding ring from my finger and so freed myself I would have done it! But it was too late – and the realization that it was too late fell over me like a black cloud of wretchedness.

The mood passed, and she does not record expressing these feelings to anyone else at the time. But she immortalized this moment in the pages of her journal, which she wanted to be published after her death, as though she wanted future readers to understand why, at that wedding feast, “I was as unhappy as I had ever been in my life.”

What Montgomery omits from her journals, however, is that she’d done whatever she could to keep the media away from the event, as revealed in an unsigned piece appearing in The Boston Herald three weeks later and reprinted in Volume 1 of The L.M. Montgomery Reader:

Well, of course, a time came when she had to share her secret with a few intimate friends outside of her own family. Her publisher, Mr. L.C. Page of Boston, was one of the earliest of these, and naturally he wished to share it with the public. But straightway he received a letter, part of which ran as follows: “As for the ’embargo’ – no, it must not be lifted until after the event. I am resolved that no hint of the matter shall get into the ‘paper news’ until it is over, and I shall be much annoyed if anything of the sort occurs.”

It is unclear how the Boston Herald had obtained a copy of this letter or whether Montgomery was aware they had published this piece, but it seems a safe bet that she did not consent for it to be published. After all, when she wrote about her marriage in “The Alpine Path,” she was brief and to the point: “As my husband was pastor of an Ontario congregation, I had now to leave Prince Edward Island and move to Ontario.” Not only did she not identify her husband by name or disclose either the denomination they belonged to or the Ontario location they lived in, but also, Montgomery’s wording emphasizes that her departure from Prince Edward Island had not been her choice. I have a new theory about why she chose to say so little about her husband in this public memoir, thanks to a new piece of evidence given to me by a longtime friend of mine, which I talk about in the afterword to A Name for Herself, coming this fall from University of Toronto Press.

UPDATE, 5 JULY 2018: I’ve just been reminded by someone in the Montgomery community that the dress on display at the Lucy Maud Montgomery Birthplace is a replica of Montgomery’s wedding dress, not the original.