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Category: Year in Review

Year in Review: 2020

This morning, while on our way to a socially distant walk in the woods with a few family members, my partner and I drove past a small grocery store whose outside sign read “Don’t worry. 2020 is almost over!”

That may certainly capture a larger societal feeling about the year that’s drawing to a close in less than an hour (at least in my time zone), and it may explain why I’ve been seeing fewer “best of” retrospective lists this month than I have in previous years (or maybe I’m just less inclined to notice them). Still, although 2020 has undeniably been difficult in so many ways, it’s worth looking back on this year in terms of new publications on L.M. Montgomery as well as looking ahead to projects that have already been announced for 2021. It’s also worth considering what anniversaries occurred this year and what they can remind us about the past, the present, and the future of Montgomery scholarship.

In looking back on this year, I’m reminded of the (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) comments Montgomery made as her alter ego, “Cynthia,” in the 30 December 1901 instalment of “Around the Table,” the newspaper column she published over a nine-month period in the Halifax Daily Echo (and whose text appears in its entirety for the first time in A Name for Herself).

The end of the year is, as a general thing, somewhat given over to retrospection. We like to overhaul our memories as well as our consciences, on New Year’s eve, as we sit before a dying fire—it must always be dying to be properly romantic—watching the Old Year out. We grow dreamy and sad and a wee bit sentimental. We recall the loves and hatreds, the pleasures and sorrows, the successes and failures of the past twelve months. We think of our flirtations, and wonder where the Toms, Dicks and Harrys are now, and if they have forgotten. We sigh softly, and quote scraps of poetry that occur to us as appropriate. In short, we get out Memory’s treasure-box and rummage among its motley contents. We have the vague regret that everyone experiences at the turning of a life page. Good or bad, earnest or frivolous, it is written and filed away in the archives of Eternity. We will never have a chance to correct its mistakes. Old Father Time has no proof-readers.

Then the clock strikes twelve and we open the door to let the Old Year go limping out and the New Year come joyously in. “The King is dead. Long live the King!”

This past month, I read through several items of scholarship that made good use of the extensive Alice Munro papers at the University of Calgary, and I was fascinated by the attempts of scholars to use surviving drafts, fragments, and correspondence in order to piece together Munro’s process of writing and revision, especially in terms of her collaboration with her agent and with various editors with whom she worked. I have to admit feeling envious of those scholars given the numerous gaps in Montgomery’s papers, especially pertaining to her short stories, poems, and miscellaneous pieces, which have been of particular interest to me over the last several years. Still, I’m very grateful for the Montgomery materials that do survive, including journals, letters, some manuscripts and typescripts, and scrapbooks. This year marks the sixtieth anniversary of the publication of The Green Gables Letters from L.M. Montgomery to Ephraim Weber, 1905–1909 (released in 1960) and the fortieth anniversary of the publication of My Dear Mr. M: Letters to G.B. MacMillan from L.M. Montgomery (released in 1980), two volumes that, along with the first reprinting in book form of her celebrity memoir “The Alpine Path” in 1974, showed readers for the first time that Montgomery’s life writing was just as fascinating as her fiction, and this has certainly been proven true with the publication of five volumes of Montgomery’s selected journals starting in 1985 and seven volumes to date of her unabridged journals starting in 2012.

This year also marks one hundred years since the publication of Further Chronicles of Avonlea (1920), an anniversary that highlights the importance of placing Montgomery’s work in its historical and literary (as well as biographical) context. While the vast amount of surviving life writing makes biographical readings of the primary work so tempting, it’s also worth paying attention to some of the broader external circumstances that shaped the words appearing on the page, at least as far as these can be pieced together through surviving documents. This collection of linked short stories is particularly fascinating as evidence of a battle of wills between Montgomery and her first publisher, L.C. Page, given that Page manipulated her into agreeing to its publication but ended up violating some of the terms of that agreement in ways that she felt did damage to her literary reputation, prompting her to fight him in court for eight years until the book was withdrawn from circulation. Further Chronicles formed part of the basis of the ever-popular television series Road to Avonlea (1990–1996), which celebrates its thirtieth anniversary this year, an anniversary that reminds us of Montgomery’s status as an enduringly popular author whose fan base includes consumers of adaptations in addition to readers of her books.

In terms of publications, 2020 began and ended with The Shining Scroll, the annual newsletter of the L.M. Montgomery Literary Society of Minnesota that’s edited by Mary Beth Cavert and Carolyn Strom Collins, two longtime contributors to the field of Montgomery studies. Its 2019 edition, released in January, and its 2020 edition, released just a few days ago, are filled with news items and original research on topics as varied as the centenary of the 1919 silent film adaptation of Anne of Green Gables, the handwritten manuscript of Anne, heritage and tourist sites in Prince Edward Island, and some newly discovered postcards that Montgomery sent to her Scottish pen pal, G.B. MacMillan.

This year also saw the publication of a number of trade books, including Kallie George’s picture book If I Couldn’t Be Anne (which follows Goodnight, Anne, released in 2018), Brooke Jorden’s abridgement of Anne of Green Gables for the Lit for Little Hands series published by Familius, Crystal S. Chan’s manga adaptation of Anne of Green Gables for Manga Classics, Josée Ouimet’s biography of Montgomery (one of the only secondary sources about Montgomery to appear in French) for the Bonjour l’histoire series, and Rachel Dodge’s The Anne of Green Gables Devotional: A Chapter-by-Chapter Companion for Kindred Spirits.

Book-length scholarship this year included Katja Lee’s Limelight: Canadian Women and the Rise of Celebrity Autobiography, which places Montgomery in conversation with fellow Canadian women including Nellie L. McClung, Margaret Trudeau, and Shania Twain, and a new paperback edition of my three-volume critical anthology The L.M. Montgomery Reader, with volume 1 consisting of essays by and interviews with Montgomery along with commentary on her work throughout her career as a novelist, volume 2 narrating her critical reputation in the decades since her death, and volume 3 turning to the book review as a largely overlooked repository of critical discussion.

In addition, this year saw the publication of a wide number of book chapters, journal articles, and reviews focusing on topics such as environmental history, correspondence, spirituality, adaptation, the archive, translations, and fan fiction, including some work dated 2019 but that was released or that I came across this past year:

What’s been announced for 2021? So far, quite a bit! Two new print adaptations will be released in the spring: Brina Starler’s Anne of Manhattan (William Morrow), which is billed as “a romantic, charming, and hilarious modern adaptation” of Anne of Green Gables that depicts Anne’s experiences as a graduate student in present-day New York City, and Louise Michalos’s Marilla before Anne (Nimbus Publishing), which focuses on eighteen-year-old Marilla’s coming of age, set in Avonlea and Halifax. Nimbus Publishing will also release Eri Muraoka’s Anne’s Cradle: The Life and Works of Hanako Muraoka, Japanese Translator of Anne of Green Gables, translated by Cathy Hirano, this spring, which promises to add considerably to our understanding of the international circulation of Montgomery’s work. In addition to Kallie George’s third Anne picture book, Merry Christmas, Anne, Tundra Books will release Anne’s School Days, the third of George’s abridgements of Anne of Green Gables, following Anne Arrives (2018) and Anne’s Kindred Spirits (2019).

And speaking of abridgements, New York’s Starry Forest Books plans to release three abridgements of Anne of Green Gables this spring, each part of a separate series of abridgements of classic works of literature and targeting a specific age range: a Baby’s Classics abridgement by Alex Fabrizio (24 pp.), a Classic Stories abridgement by Saviour Pirotta (40 pp.), and a Classic Adventures abridgement by Jacqueline Dembar Greene (64 pp.). Each of these series will place Anne alongside new abridgements of many other classic works of literature by authors ranging from Alcott and Baum to Shakespeare and the Brothers Grimm.

I’d like to end this post by recalling the words of Captain Jim in Anne’s House of Dreams, after he and his guests, as Cynthia describes in “Around the Table,” open the lighthouse door to welcome in the new year as the clock strikes twelve. “I wish you all the best year of your lives, mates. I reckon that whatever the New Year brings us will be the best the Great Captain has for us—and somehow or other we’ll all make port in a good harbour.”

There’s a lot of uncertainty about what the world will experience in 2021, but, like Captain Jim, I remain hopeful that “somehow or other we’ll all make port in a good harbour.” And in the meantime, there is always something new to discover about L.M. Montgomery.

Year in Review: 2019

Several books released this year 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. Many of these 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.


First, Halifax publisher Nimbus Publishing published 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.

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: L.M. Montgomery’s Island Scrapbooks, 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.”

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

Rock’s Mills Press 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.

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

University of Toronto Press published A World of Songs: Selected Poems, 1894–1921, edited by me as the second volume in The L.M. Montgomery Library. It contains a new selection of fifty poems—roughly 10% of her total output—published between 1894 and 1921, focusing on landscape, lamentation, death, war, and love. It was designed to be a companion to Montgomery’s rediscovered final book, The Blythes Are Quoted, since most of the forty-one poems in that book were published between 1919 and 1942. The afterword identifies points of connection between Montgomery’s poetry and her book-length fiction and places the work within the context of post-Confederation poetry in Canada. 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. This book 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.

In December, Wilfrid Laurier University Press published 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, which 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. Also this year, Arsenal Pulp Press published C.E. Gatchalian’s Double Melancholy: Art, Beauty, and the Making of a Brown Queer Man, whose author considers the impact that several key texts (including Anne of Green Gables) had on his sense of himself as a queer person of colour.

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 addition, Gibbs Smith (Layton, UT) published Anne of Green Gables: A BabyLit Storybook, retold by Stephanie Clarkson.

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

  • Fatimah Salsabila Az-Zahra and Nur Saktiningrum, “Anne Shirley’s Character Development and Its Causes as Seen in Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery” (in Lexicon)
  • 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 E. Campbell, “‘A Window Looking Seaward’: Finding Environmental History in the Writing of L.M. Montgomery” (in The Greater Gulf: Essays on the Environmental History of the Gulf of St. Lawrence)
  • Brenton D.G. Dickieson, “C.S. Lewis’s Theory of Sehnsucht and L.M. Montgomery’s Flash: Vocation and the Niminous” (in The Faithful Imagination: Papers from the 2018 Frances White Ewbank Colloquium on C.S. Lewis & Friends, Taylor University)
  • 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)
  • Elizabeth Rollins Epperly, “Reading Time: L.M. Montgomery and the ‘Alembic of Fiction’” (in Journal of L.M. Montgomery Studies)
  • Susan Erdmann and Barbara Gawrońska Pettersson, “Norwegian Translations of Anne of Green Gables: Omissions and Textual Manipulations” (in Languages—Cultures—Worldviews: Focus on Translation)
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • Bettina Kümmerling-Meibauer, “Never-Ending Sequels? Seriality in Children’s Films” (in The Palgrave Handbook of Children’s Film and Television)
  • 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)
  • Shawna McDermott, “The Tomboy Tradition: Taming Adolescent Ambition from 1869 to 2018” (in Children’s Literature Association Quarterly)
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • Piotr Oczko, “The Green Gables Utopia: On the Novel by Lucy Maud Montgomery” (in Wielogłos)
  • 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)
  • Cornelia Rémi, “From Green Gables to Grönkulla: The Metamorphoses of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables in Its Various Swedish Translations” (in Barnboken)
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • 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)

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!

Year in Review: 2018

On March 8, International Women’s Day, Historica Canada released its Heritage Minute video about L.M. Montgomery. The script features words straight out Montgomery’s journals and provides a moving and accurate portrait of the author, who struggled with depression as she sought to live out her literary ambitions. Renowned Montgomery scholars Elizabeth R. Epperly, Laura M. Robinson, and Mary Henley Rubio acted as consultants on the project. For more details, see the story from CBC News.

This year also saw the launch of an exciting new book series from University of Toronto Press: The L.M. Montgomery Library, which collects Montgomery’s extensive periodical output of short stories, poems, and miscellaneous pieces, first published between 1890 and 1942. Each volume is accompanied by a preface, an afterword, and annotations that provide context for all readers. Most of this material has never been collected in book form, so these volumes will add tremendously to our understanding and appreciation of Montgomery’s evolution as a professional writer.

Cover art for Becoming L.M. Montgomery, edited by Benjamin Lefebvre

The first volume in this series was first announced as Becoming L.M. Montgomery but published as A Name for Herself: Selected Writings, 1891–1917. This book involved extensive research in archives and rare periodicals, including three trips to Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa. It contains the full text of Montgomery’s so-called miscellaneous pieces: personal and travel essays, a playlet, contributions to student magazines, as well as texts that blur the lines between fiction and non-fiction. It includes for the first time the full text of Montgomery’s “Around the Table” column that she published in the Halifax Daily Echo over a nine-month period in 1901–1902 as well as a new edition of her celebrity memoir, “The Alpine Path.”

Cover art for A NAME FOR HERSELF: SELECTED WRITINGS, 1891–1917, by L.M. Montgomery, edited by Benjamin Lefebvre

The afterword discusses Montgomery’s use of gender-neutral double initials (“L.M.”) and alternate signatures (including “Maud Cavendish” and “Belinda Bluegrass”) and places 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.

Additional volumes showcasing Montgomery’s short stories and poems in chronological order are in progress, starting with A World of Songs: Selected Poems, 1894–1921, expected in early 2019.

I’ve been gathering copies of this material for over a decade with the ambition of making this work available in book form to Montgomery’s international community of readers, so it’s been humbling and gratifying to see this series finally going ahead.

On 30 November, which was also the 144th anniversary of Montgomery’s birth, A Name for Herself was included in the 2018 Book and Gift Guide from Canada’s History.

On 1 December, I received an email from University of Toronto Press announcing that A Name for Herself had been selected as the first book in its 12 Days of Reading campaign, which meant that, for one day only, both the paperback edition and the hardcover edition were 50% off.

And on 8 December, I was so pleased to discover that A Name for Herself was an bestseller! In addition to being ranked 6,670 in terms of overall bestsellers, it was #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, but it was worth enjoying while it lasted! listing for A Name for Herself: Selected Writings, 1891–1917 at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, 8 December 2018

Seven more books released throughout 2018 showcase the wide reach of Montgomery’s literary and cultural legacy more than seventy-five years after her death:

L.M. Montgomery’s Complete Journals: The Ontario Years, 1922–1925 (Rock’s Mills Press), a sixth volume of unabridged journals, with a preface and notes by Jen Rubio.

L.M. Montgomery and the Matter of Nature(s) (McGill-Queen’s University Press), a collection of essays edited by Rita Bode and Jean Mitchell that emerged out of a conference hosted by the L.M. Montgomery Institute in 2010.

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.

Summer in the Land of Anne (Acorn Press), a picture book written by Elizabeth R. Epperly and illustrated by Carolyn M. Epperly, about a young girl whose imagination is transformed during a trip to Cavendish, Prince Edward Island.

House of Dreams: The L.M. Montgomery (Candlewick Press), a middle-grade biography by Liz Rosenberg.

Cover art for Marilla of Green Gables, by Sarah McCoy

Marilla of Green Gables (William Morrow), a novel by Sarah McCoy that focuses on the life and challenges of a younger Marilla Cuthbert.

The Blythes Are Quoted (Penguin Canada), Montgomery’s rediscovered final book, reissued in a Penguin Modern Classics Edition with a revised introduction by Benjamin Lefebvre and a revised afterword by Elizabeth Rollins Epperly.

Maud, by Melanie J. Fishbane

In other book news: heartiest congratulations to Melanie J. Fishbane, whose YA novel Maud: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery was shortlisted for a 2018 Vine Award for Canadian Jewish Literature, under its Children’s/Young Adult category! The paperback edition of this book was released in October.

Finally, an animated version of Siobhán Gallagher’s cover art for the recent Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition of Anne of Green Gables (whose text I prepared and introduced) appeared on Twitter in early January of this year, showing that not even Anne is immune to winter weather!

Cover art of the Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition of ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, embedded in a tweet along with a "play" button.
Photograph of a statue of L.M. Montgomery
Statue of L.M. Montgomery, located on the property of Leaskdale Presbyterian Church.

On 27 October, the Lucy Maud Montgomery Society of Ontario held its annual L.M. Montgomery day, during which several presenters gave papers on this year’s theme, L.M. Montgomery at Home in Leaskdale:

Rita Bode, Lesley D. Clement, and Margaret Steffler, “Leaskdale Beginnings and Becomings: L.M. Montgomery and Motherhood”

Melanie J. Fishbane, “‘Pangs and Passions’: L.M. Montgomery’s Reflections on Her Adolescence While Living in Leaskdale”

Alan MacGillivray, “The Town of Leaskdale during Montgomery’s Era: 1911 to 1926”

Benjamin Lefebvre, “Business Woman and Poet: L.M. Montgomery during the Leaskdale Years”

Caroline E. Jones, “Growing Independence: L.M. Montgomery in Leaskdale”

The day concluded with a book signing with me and Melanie J. Fishbane.

In screen news, the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television announced in January the nominees for the 2018 Canadian Screen Awards. The CBC/Netflix television series Anne with an “E” led with thirteen nominations, while L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables: Fire & Dew, the last of three Anne movies from Breakthrough Entertainment, was up for four awards.

In a reverse of the first season of Anne with an “E,” which aired weekly on the CBC in March and April 2017 before being released the rest of the world on Netflix that May (it then appeared on Netflix in Canada this past January), the second season of ten episodes will appear on Netflix on July 6 but won’t be available in Canada until the CBC begins airing them as weekly episodes starting on September 23. As I’ve mentioned before, adaptations of Montgomery’s books have been a Sunday-night tradition for the CBC, since it was on Sunday evenings that the CBC aired the first halves of Sullivan Entertainment’s Anne of Green Gables (1985) and Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel (1987) as well as nearly the entire run of the episodic series Road to Avonlea (1990–1996) and Emily of New Moon (1998–1999, 2002–2003).

By coincidence, the third Anne movie from Breakthrough Entertainment, L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables: Fire and Dew, which aired on YTV on 1 July 2017, had its U.S. premiere on PBS also on September 23. So it looks as though both American and Canadian viewers finally get the chance to see a much-anticipated follow-up production that their neighbours across the border have already been talking about!

Finally, I was thrilled when someone alerted me to the fact that L.M. Montgomery’s rediscovered final book, The Blythes Are Quoted, had been featured on an episode of Jeopardy! in December. It made my day, especially since that book has so far not been widely available outside Canada. The episode was posted to YouTube for a brief period shortly after it aired.

Jeopardy! card, with all-caps white text against a royal blue background. The text reads: "This character gets one last story in 'The Blythes Are Quoted', published after Lucy Maud Montgomery Died."
Title card from episode of Jeopardy! airing on 11 December 2018.

Year in Review: 2017

A wide range of new and reissued books appeared this year. Several of these—released last spring to coincide with the seventy-fifth anniversary of L.M. Montgomery’s death—promised to stretch our understanding of her life, work, and legacy in exciting new ways. But by the fall, the focus shifted for the most part to Montgomery’s most celebrated book, Anne of Green Gables. Still, the publication of these books, particularly at a time when two new sets of television adaptations of Anne of Green Gables are airing worldwide, demonstrates that interest in Montgomery’s work shows no signs of tapering off.

L.M. Montgomery’s Complete Journals: The Ontario Years, 1918–1921 and L.M. Montgomery’s Complete Journals: The Ontario Years, 1926–1929 (Rock’s Mills Press), both edited by Jen Rubio, follow on the heels of last year’s volume covering the years 1911 to 1917. Featuring an introduction by Elizabeth Epperly, this first 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,” whereas the second volume shows Montgomery grappling with more changes, particularly when she and her family leave Leaskdale for Norval, Ontario. (A volume covering the years 1922 to 1925 is expected next year).

L.M. Montgomery and War (McGill-Queen’s University Press) 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 situate 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.

After Many Years: Twenty-One “Long-Lost” Stories (Nimbus Publishing), selected and introduced by Carolyn Strom Collins and the late Christy Woster, features stories that Montgomery published in North American periodicals between 1900 and 1939 and that 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.

Maud, by Melanie J. Fishbane

Maud: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery (Penguin Teen Canada) 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. For more about this author and this book, see Fishbane’s personal website.

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

The Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition of Anne of Green Gables (Penguin Books), a new edition of L.M. Montgomery’s best-selling novel with a foreword by J. Courtney Sullivan, an introduction and additional contributions by me, and a bonus essay by Montgomery. Although there are innumerable editions of this book currently on the market, most trade editions in North America reprint a version of the text that was modernized in the mid-twentieth century and that Americanizes spelling, updates hyphenation and punctuation, and makes a number of additional small changes to the text. 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.”

Also released this year were 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 the years 1889 to 1900 and one to the years 1901 to 1911.

Besides these titles, several more books engage with the story of Anne of Green Gables in a range of ways:

Meet Me at Green Gables (Bouton d’or d’Acadie), by Michel Bourque, illustrated by Jean-Luc Trudel, is a charming picture book that 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.

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

Anne of Green Gables (Seven Seas Entertainment) is a new edition of the novel that features manga illustrations by Japanese manga author Maki Minami.

The Anne of Green Gables Cookbook (Race Point Publishing), by Kate Macdonald, is 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.”

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

Besides these books, I’ve become fascinated with a phenomenon that has involved not only Montgomery but also any other still-popular author whose work is in the public domain: cheap reprint editions, either in print or in ebook form. Sometimes it seems as though new cheap editions of Montgomery’s books become available on Amazon every day, many of them offering numerous titles for 99 cents, most of them with cover art that is completely random and, as such, entirely unsuitable, with this recent cover of an edition of Rilla of Ingleside as just one example:

“Wake up, Rilla—it’s war time!” A random and utterly unsuitable image for the cover of a recent cheap ebook reprint of Rilla of Ingleside.

In other cases, creators of these cheap ebooks take art from existing editions, which could mislead readers about what edition they are buying. A couple of months ago, one such edition of Rilla of Ingleside appeared with the cover art from the restored and annotated edition that Andrea McKenzie and I edited for Penguin Canada in 2010. Because most of the editions do not identify any creators or publishers and simply have the line “Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC,” it is impossible for consumers to know who is behind these editions. Thankfully, though, when we reported this edition to Amazon, it was soon taken down all its platforms.

But now a new twist has occurred, evident in the following screen caps taken yesterday:

While it is true that these books are in the public domain and that anyone anywhere can reprint them or make ebook versions of them, these editions are most definitely not Norton Critical Editions or part of the Penguin Twentieth Century Classics series (which is now called Penguin Modern Classics) or the Oxford World’s Classics series. These are all existing covers, although the cover for The Story Girl is actually from one of eight abridgements done for Zonderkids over a decade ago. Although one would have to buy these Kindle editions to assess the extent that they are “annotated,” my sense is that, if these editions were sufficiently annotated for publication by Norton, Penguin, or Oxford, they would not be retailing for $3.73. Not to mention that the editor of a critical or annotated edition is always identified, since it is that editor’s expertise in the subject matter that is of paramount importance.

And then, of course, is this recent ebook, which appears to be an L.M. Montgomery title no one has ever heard of: Bev’s Childhood. It is actually The Story Girl.

Besides all these books, the Lucy Maud Montgomery Society of Ontario organized and held The Spirit of Canada: Celebrating a Canadian Literary Patriot, L.M. Montgomery, a three-day event held at the Leaskdale Manse National Historic Site, Montgomery’s home from 1911 to 1926, on 20–22 October of this year.

Keynote speakers included Elizabeth Rollins Epperly (“Capturing Canada: L.M. Montgomery’s Career of Creating Place”) and Benjamin Lefebvre (“The Upward Climb to Heights Sublime: Private and Public Narratives in L.M. Montgomery’s ‘The Alpine Path’”). The program also features presentations by Ted Barris, Rita Bode, Lesley D. Clement, Melanie J. Fishbane, Andrea McKenzie, Jen Rubio, Kate Scarth, and Emily Woster.

Year in Review: 2015

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

For me personally, the highlight of 2015 was the release in January of volume 3 of The L.M. Montgomery Reader, subtitled A Legacy in Review. The fact that this multi-year project has finally come to an end is bittersweet, and it’s been nice to clear my desk, both literally and figuratively, as I start to ponder what it is I’d like to tackle next. I do hope that the materials included in all three volumes will prove useful and interesting to Montgomery’s broad readership, and of course I’m always happy to hear from readers in terms of questions, responses, and alerts to items I missed.

My friend Melanie Fishbane, upon receiving her copy of volume 3 after it was published, took a couple of photos of the three volumes on her shelf, edited them through some sort of Photoshop/Instagram rinse, and then posted them on Facebook. The arrangement looked so neat that I asked her permission to repost it, which she graciously gave. Thanks, Mel!

Montage of covers of /The L.M. Montgomery Reader/

And in November, all three volumes of The L.M. Montgomery Reader became 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, for which I’m so grateful:

“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

L.M. Montgomery's Rainbow Valleys

Congratulations 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!

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.

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.


L.M. Montgomery’s Reflections on War (Toronto Public Library)

On 27 January, I joined Laura M. Robinson and Melanie J. Fishbane for an event called “The Canadian Home Front: L.M. Montgomery’s Reflections on War” at the North York Central Library branch of the Toronto Public Library. I spoke about how Montgomery’s shifting vision of the war appeared in periodicals of the period, not only in terms of some of Montgomery’s essays and letters published prior to the writing of Rilla of Ingleside but also the ways in which all her war books—Rainbow ValleyAnne’s House of Dreams, and The Watchman and Other Poems, as well as Rilla of Ingleside—were reviewed in North American newspapers and magazines.

Maud in the Garden (Leaskdale)

On Saturday, 20 June 2015, I drove to Leaskdale, Ontario, for the unveiling of “Maud in the Garden,” a public art sculpture by Wynn Walters that had been commissioned by the Lucy Maud Montgomery Society of Ontario. Here are a few photos I took at the event.

Members of the Lucy Maud Montgomery Society of Ontario at the unveiling of Maud in the Garden.
Sculptor Wynn Waters speaks at the unveiling of the Lucy Maud Montgomery Statue in Leaskdale.
Sculptor Wynn Waters speaks at the unveiling of the Lucy Maud Montgomery statue in Leaskdale.
L.M. Montgomery's granddaughter, Kate Macdonald Butler, speaks on behalf of the heirs of L.M. Montgomery.
L.M. Montgomery’s granddaughter Kate Macdonald Butler speaks on behalf of the heirs of L.M. Montgomery.
I couldn't resist getting my picture taken with Montgomery.
I couldn’t resist getting my picture taken with Montgomery.

L.M. Montgomery and Gender (Charlottetown)

Proposals for L.M. Montgomery and Gender, the twelfth biennial conference hosted by the L.M. Montgomery Institute and held at the University of Prince Edward Island on 23–26 June 2016, were due in August of this year, at which point conference co-chairs Andrea McKenzie and Laura Robinson sent out the following note:

Canada is fast approaching the centenary of women’s suffrage in the province of Manitoba (1916) and nationally (1918), so the twelfth biennial conference hosted by the L.M. Montgomery Institute at the University of Prince Edward Island will re-consider the role of gender in L.M. Montgomery’s work, broadly defined: her fiction, poetry, life writing, letters, photographs, and scrapbooks, as well as the myriad adaptations and spinoffs in film, television, theatre, tourism, and social media.

The L.M. Montgomery Institute is delighted to announce the following keynote speakers: Jane Urquhart, Mavis Reimer, and Elizabeth Epperly.

L.M. Montgomery Day in Leaskdale

On Saturday, 24 October, the Lucy Maud Montgomery Society of Ontario held its annual L.M. Montgomery Day, which commemorates Montgomery’s arrival in Leaskdale as a minister’s wife in October 1911. This year’s theme was Maud’s Landscapes: The Effect of Nature on Her Writing, and the schedule of events included the following presentations, which were bookended by a welcome by Melanie Whitfield and a launch for L.M. Montgomery’s Rainbow Valleys: The Ontario Years, 1911–1942, which included remarks by editors Rita Bode and Lesley D. Clement:

Gwen Layton, “Maud in the Garden: L.M. Montgomery’s Sense of Place in Her Leaskdale Literary Landscape”

Melanie Fishbane, “Fairy Slopes and Phantom Shadows: L.M. Montgomery as Teen Poet”

Vanessa Brown, “Hester Gray’s Garden”

Benjamin Lefebvre, “In Lands Afar: L.M. Montgomery and the Re-creation of Prince Edward Island in Ontario”

Kate Macdonald Butler, “Reflections on Filming Anne of Green Gables in 2015”

Stage and Screen

In March, Toronto production company Breakthrough Entertainment added to its website a page for its upcoming adaptation of Anne of Green Gables. Initially announced as a thirteen-episode series, this ninety-minute telefilm was directed by John Kent Harrison from a script by Susan Coyne:

Based on the globally beloved classic children’s novel that was first published in 1908 by Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables is the story of a fiercely imaginative little girl who, with her irrepressible spirit, touches the lives of everyone that she meets. In particular, it is the story of Anne’s stormy relationship with the strait-laced Marilla Cuthbert who discovers through Anne a capacity for love that she never knew she had.

L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables

While a movie poster released in October included the subtitle “Holiday Special,” indicating that the telefilm might air during the holiday season, a press release from Breakthrough Entertainment in June announced that the telefilm will air on Corus Entertainment–owned YTV early in 2016 and will star thirteen-year-old Ella Ballentine as Anne Shirley, and in August, a new listing on the Internet Movie Database a partial cast list, including Martin Sheen as Matthew Cuthbert, Linda Kash as Mrs. Barry, Sara Botsford as Marilla Cuthbert, Ella Ballentine as Anne Shirley, Julia Lalonde as Diana Barry, Zoe Fraser as Ruby Gillis, Kyle Gatehouse as Mr. Phillips, Stefani Kimber as Josie Pye, Drew Haytaoglu Gilbert Blythe, Kate Hennig as Rachel Lynde, and Isabella Ricker as Prissy Andrews.

Don Harron (1924–2015)

In January, it was reported that Don Harron, co-creator of Anne of Green Gables: The Musical and author of several books, including Anne of Green Gables the Musical: 101 Things You Didn’t Know (2008), had died on 17 January 2015 at the age of 90. For more on the life and accomplishments of this well-respected actor, writer, and director, see the obituary appearing on the CBC News website.

Jonathan Crombie (1966–2015)

And in April, it was reported that Jonathan Crombie, who played Gilbert Blythe in three Anne of Green Gables miniseries by Sullivan Entertainment, had died on April 15 at the age of 48. A CBC News report posted that day was subsequently updated several times to include more details about his death as well as tributes to him from several people, including his sister Carrie Crombie, his Anne co-star Megan Follows, and producer/director Kevin Sullivan.

30 November 2015

This year, on the anniversary of Montgomery’s birth in 1874, Montgomery trended on the Internet, due in large part to several Google Doodles paying tribute to Anne of Green Gables. And as Melanie J. Fishbane pointed out in a blog post published on that day, this is an exciting time for Montgomery and especially for Anne, thanks to the upcoming new telefilm version of Anne of Green Gables, a shout-out about the novel in a recent episode of The Simpsons, and numerous celebrity mentions. A list of “Five Fast Facts You Need to Know” about Montgomery, published on that day on the website Heavy, mentions her rediscovered final book, The Blythes Are Quoted.

Year in Review: 2014

The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 2: A Critical Heritage

This past year has been a busy one: in May, University of Toronto Press published The L.M. Montgomery Reader, volume 2: A Critical Heritage, which promises to be “the first book to consider the posthumous life of one of Canada’s most enduringly popular authors,” according to the dust jacket, and we had a launch for the book at the annual conference of the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English, which this year met at Brock University in St. Catharines.

June 25 was a particularly important day for this website: on the first day of L.M. Montgomery and War, the eleventh biennial conference hosted by the L.M. Montgomery Institute at the University of Prince Edward Island (an event I co-chaired with Andrea McKenzie), I launched the new iteration of this website, an expanded version of the L.M. Montgomery Research Group website that appeared in 2007.

Calls for Papers

The Looking Glass: New Perspectives on Children’s Literature (special journal issue)

Edited by Caroline E. Jones

Critical, reflective, inquiring, and entertaining articles are welcomed for all sections for a special issue on the life and work of L.M. Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables. Recent and ongoing scholarship speaks to myriad topics in this complex author’s body of work: war, class, national identity, child-life, girl-life, nature, animals, and much, much more. This issue will undertake a broad exploration of the contemporary cultural, scholarly, and personal relevance of Montgomery’s work. Why do we read Montgomery? Why is the study of her work still so active?

Further topics might include:

  • The proliferation of new editions of Montgomery’s books
  • Illustrated versions of the novels
  • Picture books based on Montgomery’s life or of her work (there are a few!)
  • The role of landscape in Montgomery’s work
  • Montgomery in the classroom
  • Montgomery beyond Green Gables
  • Montgomery in Japan
  • Montgomery in Scandinavia
  • Montgomery in Canada/the United States/the United Kingdom/Australia
  • Montgomery in translation

L.M. Montgomery has made lasting impressions on literature and culture worldwide. This issue of The Looking Glass will explore those impressions and speculate as to the future of Montgomery studies and Montgomery’s work. Deadline: 28 February 2015. For further information on columns, submissions, and editorial policies please visit our website: The Looking Glass: New Perspectives on Children’s Literature.

L.M. Montgomery and War (collection of essays)

Edited by Andrea McKenzie and Jane Ledwell

The year 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, a global conflict that would prove life-changing for L.M. Montgomery and millions of her contemporaries. We invite submissions of papers for a collection of essays that consider war in relation to L.M. Montgomery’s fiction, poetry, life writing, photographs, and scrapbooks, and the range of adaptations and spinoffs in the areas of film, television, theatre, tourism, and online communities. McGill-Queen’s University Press has expressed interest in this collection.

Montgomery’s 1921 novel Rilla of Ingleside is one of the only contemporary accounts of Canadian women’s experience on the homefront during the First World War, but the War is evoked and implied in direct and indirect ways in many of the novels, short stories, and poems that precede and follow it. The Blythes Are Quoted, Montgomery’s final published work, bridges the years between the First World War and the Second World War, complicating Montgomery’s perspectives and thoughts about war and conflict. Montgomery’s work has met with a variety of responses world-wide during times of war and rebellion, from post-WWII Japan to today’s Middle Eastern countries. Different kinds of wars and rebellions also permeate her fiction and life writing—class conflicts, family disputes, gender and language wars—sometimes humorous, sometimes tragic. This essay collection seeks to take stock of the complex ways in which war in all its forms has influenced Montgomery’s works and their reception, both in Canada and around the world.

Possible topics include: the Great War anticipated, revisited, remembered, and re-imagined; the politics of gendered witnessing; Montgomery’s reception in times of war and conflict; chivalry, patriarchy, conflict, and romance in poetry and fiction; war as an agent of change; internal and external rebellion in relation to war; the psychology of war in battle and on the homefront.

Papers should clearly articulate the proposed paper’s argument and demonstrate familiarity with current scholarship about both Montgomery and the discipline or field in which you work. (For information about current and past scholarship about Montgomery, please see the website for L.M. Montgomery Online at Submit a paper of 5,000 to 6,000 words (including references), a biographical statement of 70 words, and a CV by 15 August 2014 to both Andrea McKenzie and Jane Ledwell. Papers must be submitted in Word-compatible format and follow Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition, superscript style, for references

L.M. Montgomery and Gender (conference)

University of Prince Edward Island, 23–26 June 2016

From Anne’s initial iconic and heartrending cry in Anne of Green Gables—“You don’t want me because I’m not a boy”—to the pressure on young men to join the war effort in Rilla of Ingleside, and from the houseful of supportive co-eds in Anne of the Island to the tyrannical grandmother in Jane of Lantern Hill, Lucy Maud Montgomery’s work highlights gender roles: how formative and deterministic they seem, and yet mutable they may be. Much Montgomery criticism of the past several decades has regarded her work from a feminist and gender studies perspective. Given that Canada is fast approaching the centenary of women’s suffrage in the province of Manitoba (1916) and nationally (1918), the twelfth biennial conference hosted by the L.M. Montgomery Institute at the University of Prince Edward Island, which will take place 23–26 June 2016, invites proposals for papers that re-consider the role of gender in L.M. Montgomery’s work, broadly defined: her fiction, poetry, life writing, letters, photographs, and scrapbooks, as well as the myriad adaptations and spinoffs in film, television, theatre, tourism, and social media. To what degree do Montgomery’s works, or works inspired by her, challenge or re-entrench normative gender roles? Do her works envision new possibilities for girls and women, boys and men? Or, is our contemporary fascination with her world, in part, nostalgia for what people imagine to be the more clearly-defined gender roles of a bygone era?

Engaging the rich scholarship of the past, possible topics might examine the intersection of gender with:

  • Sexual identity, queerness, bachelor- and spinsterhood, and/or heterosexual romance;
  • Friendship of all kinds; relationships with personal and professional acquaintances;
  • Geographic, cultural, linguistic, racial, or ethnic identities, such as Scottishness;
  • Voting and politics; careers and/or education for women (or men); domesticity;
  • Levels of ability and mobility;
  • Childhood, particularly orphanhood;
  • Mental and/or physical illness, addiction, and/or failing health.

Please submit a proposal of 250–300 words, a CV that includes education, position, publications, and presentations, and a list of A/V requirements by 31 August 2015 by using our online form at the L.M. Montgomery Institute website at Abstracts should not only clearly articulate a strong argument but they should also situate that argument in the context of previous Montgomery scholarship. All proposals are blind reviewed. Any questions or requests for further information can be directed to the conference co-chairs: Dr. Andrea McKenzie and/or Dr. Laura Robinson.

NeMLA (conference)

Toronto, April 2015

L.M. Montgomery’s Ontario Years, 1911–42: A Changing World: L.M. Montgomery lived in Ontario from 1911 to 1942, writing fiction that confirmed her place, established by the early Anne novels, in not just Canadian letters but world literature. This session will explore familial, cultural, historical, and geographical influences on her writings during the period that Montgomery lived in Leaskdale, Norval, and Toronto and vacationed in Bala. Bookended by the First and Second World Wars, this period is characterized by changes such as redefined roles for women, increasing commercialization and commodification, and power struggles among those in the literary establishment to shape the canon. Please submit a 250–300-word abstract and short bio online at Deadline: 30 September 2014. For further information, contact Lesley Clement.

Beyond “Green Gables”: L.M. Montgomery’s Darker Side: L.M. Montgomery’s last work, The Blythes Are Quoted, and how it came into being, remains largely untouched. This collection of stories and vignettes emphasizes disillusionment and “despair” alongside hope; it is an experiment in form, but a continuation of earlier works in content. This panel seeks to explore the darker threads of Montgomery’s earlier writings, from dark humor and wit to tragedy, examining earlier iterations and themes that better illuminate how her final work came into being. Please submit a 250–300-word abstract and short bio online at Deadline: 30 September 2014. For further information, contact Laura M. Robinson.

News and Events

Here are some of the ways in which L.M. Montgomery and her work made news throughout July:

In July, Melanie J. Fishbane conducted a series of conversations called the “Embodying Character Series” with the actors playing the title roles in this summer’s staging of the musical Anne and Gilbert in Charlottetown: Ellen Denny (part 1, part 2) and Patrick Cook (part 1, part 2). And in December, Mel chatted with Marion Abbott, founder of the Spirit of Maud Theatre Company, about writing process and community theatre and Montgomery’s gift for creating three-dimensional characters.

On Saturday, November 29, Melanie Fishbane and I got to attend the Spirit of Maud Theatre Company production of A Kindred Spirit Christmas in Norval, Ontario (where Montgomery and her family lived between 1926 and 1935), as part of the annual Montgomery Christmas. Dramatized and directed by Marion Abbott, the performance consisted of four pieces from Christmas with Anne and Other Holiday Stories: “The End of the Young Family Feud,” “Aunt Cyrilla’s Christmas Basket,” “Matthew Insists on Puffed Sleeves” (from Anne of Green Gables) and “Katherine Brooke Comes to Green Gables” (from Anne of Windy Poplars). The play was terrific: solid performances by all the cast members, most of whom were teenagers and young adults, and the fact that it was held at St. Paul’s Anglican Parish Hall, where Montgomery herself directed a number of community plays, made it extra special. And I got to do a Q&A with the cast afterward, which was so much fun!

Besides that, I signed copies of the first two volumes of The L.M. Montgomery Reader at Crawford’s Village Bakery, where I also stocked up on jams and jellies and preserves, although this year it was with a heavy heart because the Crawford family had recently announced that the bakery would be closing its doors soon. Elaine Crawford and Kelly Crawford are the authors of Aunt Maud’s Recipe Book (1996), which deserves to be in everyone’s Montgomery collection.

Benjamin Lefebvre during a Q&A at the Spirit of Maud Theatre Company production of A Kindred Spirit Christmas, St. Paul’s Anglican Parish Hall, Norval, on 29 November 2014. Photo by Melanie Fishbane.

Year in Review: 2012

One of the highlights this year was the news, released in mid-April, that The Complete Journals of L.M. Montgomery: The PEI Years, 1889–1900, edited by Mary Henley Rubio and Elizabeth Hillman Waterston, would be published by Oxford University Press in September 2012!

From the Oxford University Press website:

The first edition of The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery was published in the 1980s, with fifty percent of the material removed to save space, as well as to reflect a quaint, marketable vision of small-town Canada. The editors were instructed to excise anything that was not upbeat or did not “move the story along.” The resulting account of Montgomery’s youthful life in Prince Edward Island depicts a fun-loving, simple country girl. The unabridged journal, however, reveals something quite different.

We now know that Montgomery was anything but simple. She was often anxious, bitter, dark, and political, although always able to see herself and her surroundings with a deep ironic—and often comical—twist. The unabridged version shows her using writing as a means of managing her own mood swings, as well as her increasing dependency on journal keeping, and her ambition as a writer. She was also exceedingly interested in men. We see here a more developed portrait of what she herself described as a “very uncomfortable blend” between “the passionate Montgomery blood and the Puritan Macneill conscience.” Full details describe the impassioned events during which she describes becoming a “new creature,” “born of sorrow . . . and hopeless longing.”

In addition, this unedited account is a striking visual record, containing hundreds of her own photographs placed as she placed them in her journals, as well as newspaper clippings, postcards, and professional portraits, all with her own original captions. New notes and a new introduction give key context to the history, the people, and the culture in the text. A new preface by Michael Bliss draws some unexpected connections.

The full PEI journals tells a fascinating tale of a young woman coming of age in a bygone rural Canada, a tale far thornier and far more compelling than the first selected edition could disclose.

This book, which I reviewed in the Globe and Mail, was also included in the year’s The Globe 100, which included “titles reviewers couldn’t put down, couldn’t stop talking about, and insist you stock up on, too.” And by then, more good news had come our way: that the next volume of Montgomery’s unabridged journals, The Complete Journals of L.M. Montgomery: The PEI Years, 1901–1911, also edited by Rubio and Waterston, would be published by Oxford University Press in March 2013!

On June 11, I shared a news release from Breakthrough Entertainment announcing plans for an all-new, thirteen-episode television series based on L.M. Montgomery’s novel Anne of Green Gables:

Leading Canadian production-distribution studio Breakthrough Entertainment and the heirs of beloved Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery have joined forces to develop and produce a 13-episode series for television based on one of Canada—and the world’s—most celebrated and eternal book series, Anne of Green Gables. Announcement of the all-new Anne of Green Gables television series was made jointly at the Banff World Media Festival by Breakthrough Entertainment principals Ira Levy and Peter Williamson, and Executive Producer Joan Lambur and Kate Macdonald Butler, granddaughter of author Lucy Maud Montgomery.

Set for production in 2013 in the Canadian Maritimes, Breakthrough Entertainment’s Anne of Green Gables will be a contemporary retelling of the famed book series while capturing author Lucy Maud Montgomery’s original vision for her characters and stories.

First published in 1908, Anne of Green Gables remains an iconic work selling more than 50 million copies worldwide.  The eight classic Anne of Green Gables novels have attracted generations of readers inspired by the adventures of the spirited redhead Anne Shirley, who comes to stay at Green Gables and wins the hearts of everyone she meets.

Not surprisingly, this news generated a lot of responses on the website, starting with one from a user named Shelly:

This is very interesting, and exciting, news. On the other hand, I can envisage a lot of backlash from long-time fans of the 1985 miniseries, who no doubt will shout from the rooftops that they can visualize only Megan Follows as Anne.

Here’s how I replied:

I think part of the reason people are so attached to the 1985 Anne of Green Gables is that it’s really the only adaptation that’s in circulation, except for the 1934 talkie which still airs on TV occasionally. The 1919 film is believed to be lost, the 1972 BBC miniseries apparently vanished (and, to the best of my knowledge, never aired in North America), the 1979 Japanese anime was never dubbed into English, and the live versions from the 1950s haven’t been rebroadcast to the best of my knowledge. And yet, works by authors like Jane Austen, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louisa May Alcott, Mark Twain, and Lewis Carroll have been adapted numerous times, for both film and TV, and viewers have come to appreciate that adaptation is an act of interpretation, even as they come to like some versions more than others, just as many Anne fans enjoy the miniseries and the musical for different reasons. I’m really looking forward to seeing a new take on Anne, particularly one that’s filmed in the Maritimes.

A user named Faith B also responded:

What I’m actually longing to see is a tv/film adaption of books 2 through 8. If this is good, maybe they’ll continue with the series, in the RIGHT way, not with anything like Anne’s “Continuing Story” that really didn’t follow any book at all. The first movie they made with Megan Follows and Colleen Dewhurst was magnificent, but it was down hill from there. I’ll hope for the best with this… though the words “contemporary retelling” worry me a good deal. I’m sure no true Anne-fan wants a “contemporary retelling.” We want the Anne that we all know and love, and we want to feel the same charming spell which the books cast over us. Still, I’ll keep my fingers crossed for this one. I’m convinced it can’t be too bad if they just find the right girl to play Anne. Megan Follows was Anne – no question, she just WAS Anne. Played her absolutely perfectly. Still there are definitely more girls just as suited to play her, but they’ll be hard to find. Find the perfect Anne, make at least an attempt to stick to the books’ initial storyline, and I think it’ll be okay. Fingers crossed!

There were also some questions, then and in the months that followed, about whether any news about casting had been released, but although I kept my eyes peeled, I didn’t see anything further about this project throughout the rest of 2012.

Another highlight this year was L.M. Montgomery and Cultural Memory, for which old friends and new friends met in Charlottetown for another weekend of learning, discussion, and fellowship. Here’s what I wrote on June 20, also known as “pre-conference day”:

I’m currently in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island for the 10th biennial international conference hosted by the L.M. Montgomery Institute at the University of Prince Edward Island. This year’s theme is L.M. Montgomery and Cultural Memory, and as program chair I’m particularly excited about this conference because I’ve been reading about all of these papers for several months and finally this weekend I will get to hear them.

Unveiling of Epperly Plaza at University of Prince Edward Island, 20 June 2012
Unveiling of Epperly Plaza at University of Prince Edward Island, 20 June 2012

Today was the pre-conference day, which began with a special unveiling of the Epperly Plaza, a beautiful garden and pathway in front of the Robertson Library that was named in honour of UPEI’s fourth president, Montgomery scholar Elizabeth Rollins Epperly. As Dr. Epperly reminded us during her delightful speech, it was today in 1908 that L.M. Montgomery received her author’s copies of her first novel, Anne of Green Gables.

Truck featuring Anne of Green Gables: The Musical, in downtown Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Truck featuring Anne of Green Gables: The Musical, in downtown Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

In the afternoon my friend Vanessa and I went wandering around Charlottetown in search of secondhand books and other collectibles. Once again, Anne was everywhere.

Finally, in the evening, we had our opening reception where I bumped into several old friends. One of the things I’ve always liked about this conference series is the feeling of community that has developed over the years. I’ve been attending this conference series since 1996, and what I’ve really appreciated is seeing friends and colleagues again as well as meeting new people. In a way, it feels a lot like coming home.

The conference is on until Sunday, and if past conferences have taught me anything it’s that it’s bound to be an intense few days. To shake things up a bit on this website, I’ve asked some of my old friends to join me on this blog and write about their impressions of the conference. So stay tuned!

After that, I shared the microphone with four fellow conference attendees, each of whom provided a summary of the day.

Day 1 (June 21): Vanessa Brown

Guest post by Vanessa Brown

Welcome Montgomery fans to my first blog for the L.M. Montgomery Research Group! Guess what? I’m here to tell you about my exciting day at the Montgomery Conference here in beautiful Prince Edward Island, and it really has been exciting.

This morning we found out about new plans from the L.M. Montgomery Institute to start a publication series, a app for your iPhone, and the digitization of Montgomery’s letters to Penzie MacNeill. How cool is that?

I’m selling books at the conference for Attic Books in London, Ontario, but like any good bookseller, I slept a little bit late. Still, there was plenty of interest at my booth despite my tardiness, and also at the booth for Gallery 18 who was only here for today. It was great to meet Aubrey Bell and talk a little shop before diving into the day’s intellectual fare with a cup of coffee and some pastries—the trademark nutrition of any academic gathering.

I sat in on Trinna Frever’s presentation on Recollection and Remembrance, as well as Katja Lee’s enthralling talk on Montgomery’s self-branding with particular focus on The Alpine Path. Maud’s focus on crafting her image for the public and for herself was apparent for both speakers and led to some riveting discussion. I also enjoyed the question period following presentations on predestination, “future memories” and the conflict of modernity in the Emily books, by quick witted Balaka Basu, the venerated Andrea Valenta and brilliant Laura Breitenbeck, respectively.

After some yummy refreshments, I dug my teeth into Melanie Fishbane’s multimedia presentation on sexy Gilbert Blythe—Oh, how I love you Jonathan Crombie!—and even played Diana in a dialogue highlighting his place in our cultural memory. Later topics included Walter Blythe and the World Wars (Gwen Gethner), liminal spaces in Anne’s House of Dreams (Poushali Bhadury) and Queen Victoria’s role in the Emily books (Holly Pike).

Sitting around all day works up an appetite, so we found ourselves at the Anne of Green Gables Chocolates in downtown Charlottetown, where I picked up some delicious Avonlea cheese. Yes, I’m an Anne fan, but I’m also a cheese fan and I would eat this yummy stuff if it was called by any other name. It’s twice the price in London, Ontario, so I consider this a score.

The evening was topped off by a glorious cocktail reception, hosted by the Heirs of L.M. Montgomery for the conference speakers. Kate Macdonald Butler and Sally Keefe Cohen throw a superb party, with delicious appetizers and a flowing bar—all at the Great George Hotel where Regis and Kelly stayed on their recent visit to the Island. Did you read that folks? Regis and Kelly! One of the bartenders told me that he was assigned to be their personal slave and assured me that Kelly is super tiny in real life, and so is Regis.

Actually, I was more impressed to find out that Anne Murray had stayed there, but it’s all subjective.

I left the party still hopping and expect my roommate to come in late and certainly not sober. That’s it for today! Tomorrow is my big talk, and I’m super nervous. I hope whoever is blogging tomorrow is kind.

Day 2 (June 22): Melanie Fishbane

Guest post by Melanie Fishbane

My name is Melanie Fishbane and I am thrilled to be writing my first blog post for the L.M. Montgomery Research Group. I’ll be giving you my impressions of the second day of the L.M. Montgomery and Cultural Memory Conference. By the way, if you want a more in-depth play-by-play of the day’s events, do follow the #lmmi2012 or #lmmipei hashtags on Twitter.

Alas, I was a little behind today with my tweeting, having walked to the conference with my travel companion and roommate and was a little late for the first speaker. Those who know me know that I am not a morning person. Getting anywhere for 9 AM is a feat in itself. But arrive we did and listened to papers that both stimulated and stirred our imaginations.

The first special panel was on Memory, Communities and Readers.  From memories of family vacations that led to lobster trap coffee tables, to finding that rare edition in the most unlikely of places,  Davida Mackay, Christy Woster, Jeanne Kaye Speight and Mary Beth Cavert recounted how L.M. Montgomery’s works had influenced their lives.

The Keynote panel that followed was a mixture of sadness and joy for us.  Because of a recent death in the family, one of the rockstars of Montgomery scholarship, Elizabeth Waterston, was unable to attend the conference. However, her editorial buddy and dear friend, Mary Rubio, read Waterston’s paper, “L.M. Montgomery’s Journals: Changes in Cultural Landscape, 1982–2012” out loud, providing her own commentary as well. I shall not lie: when Rubio held up the newly revised The Complete Journals of L.M. Montgomery: The PEI Years, 1889–1900, I did a little jig in my seat. I simply cannot wait until tomorrow when there will be a book release party with Rubio signing copies of the new edition. The geek girl in me is squealing.

Elizabeth (Betsy) Epperly followed with a brilliant discussion on “Remembering Home: Memory, Meaning and Metaphor in L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Ingleside,” which was so amazing that it made me want to run home and read it right away. Also, just when she started to talk about the last two paragraphs of the last novel that Montgomery published in her lifetime, the lights went out.

The afternoon panel discussions continued to delight us as we discussed concepts of memory, re-interpreting truths, and asking ourselves “what is Montgomery’s ‘true voice’?”  Vappu Kannas discussed versions of memory while editing Montgomery’s selected journals and William Thompson explored social resistance and psychic re-visioning in the Emily books. While Cynthia Sugars talked about hauntings and ghost stories in The Story Girl, giving me pause when thinking about this morning’s “electric failure.”

The final panel of the afternoon were two fascinating papers by Andrea McKenzie and Yoshiko Akamatsu about Montgomery’s posthumously published novel, The Blythes Are Quoted. And our blogger from yesterday, Vanessa Brown, did an excellent job describing her detective work in finding a ledger that is connected to Montgomery’s suicide note. (See, Vanessa? No reason not to be kind!) These insightful papers give us much to ponder about Montgomery’s last novel and her final days.

Then we all brown bagged it and hopped on the bus to Belfast for a quick visit to the Sir Andrew Macphail Homestead,  where Montgomery once visited and met Canada’s Governor General, Earl Grey—the story has to do with them sitting on the steps of an outhouse and people avoiding it as they didn’t want to disturb the GG in his discussion.  We really wanted to know where that outhouse was, but there were way too many mosquitos out tonight to do an adequate search of the property.

The night ended with an intimate evening of music at St. Paul’s Church for the Festival of Small Halls, a local musical festival where musicians from Atlantic Canada play at local small venues. Built in 1824, the church still had some of its original markings. It was beautiful and the sound was incredible. Dylan Guthro, Irish Mythen, Nathan Wiley and Matt Minglewood charmed the audience with their folk and blues medleys and good humour. L.M. Montgomery conference attendees were specifically welcomed by the organizers who mentioned that Montgomery’s husband, Ewan Macdonald, had lived in the area before they were married  and that one of the members of the church actually lived in the house!

I cannot wait for tomorrow which not only includes a silent auction and our banquet, but more informative and interesting papers on this fascinating topic of Montgomery and cultural memory.

Day 3 (June 23): Christine Chettle

My name is Christine Chettle, I’m a Ph.D. student at the University of Leeds in the UK, and this is my first time at an L.M. Montgomery conference. As a lifelong fan of L.M. Montgomery’s work, and particularly of her Emily trilogy (I named my pet hedgehog after Ilse Burnley because she kept climbing out of her cage), I was really excited to attend the 2012 conference on L.M. Montgomery and Cultural Memory and share some of my work on Charlotte Brontë and the Emily books. However, I also felt quite shy, as I hardly knew anyone. But I shouldn’t have worried. L.M. Montgomery is a writer who knows all about the dynamics of community—both the pros and the cons—and because of this, perhaps, L.M. Montgomery lovers seem to share her sense of community, and in a particularly kind way. At this conference, there have been no Josie Pyes or Miss Brownells!

Throughout Day 3 of the conference, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on L.M. Montgomery’s connections with a number of differing communities. First of all, the educational community: Jennifer Litster, Benjamin Lefebvre, Tara Parmiter, Diane Tye, and Åsa Warnqvist all provided complementary insights into her interactions with various entities, discussing her connections to, respectively, an ambivalent Scots heritage, fluctuating audience receptions, traditions of ghost stories, processes of memory, and the dynamics of folklore. Later, thanks to the presence of Jean Ledwell and Lesley Clement in my panel session, I discovered her links to New Zealand literature and to visual art. Miss Stacy and Mr. Carpenter would definitely have approved.

Mr. Carpenter, with his enthusiasm for Emily’s PEI heritage, would also have enjoyed Sarah Gothie’s presentation on the Green Gables museum and Judy Plum (of the Pat books) would have loved Jean Mitchell’s exploration of Park Corner, PEI through the light of Silver Bush. A presentation from the Lucy Maud Montgomery Society of Ontario gave an inspiring view of Montgomery’s influence beyond PEI in Leaskdale, Ontario. In the spirit of matriarchs Rachel Lynde and Miss Cornelia, they have nurtured Montgomery’s home in the Leaskdale community from a forgotten derelict to a thing of beauty (and with these ladies at the helm it will quite possibly be a joy forever).

At the conference banquet this evening, we had the opportunity to hear about Åsa and Stefan Warnqvist’s lovely romance. The conference coincides with a number of their anniversaries, falling as it does around the important Swedish celebration of Midsummer’s Eve: nine years ago they met, five years ago they became engaged, and four years ago they came to PEI for their honeymoon. This is a happily-ever-after that I can imagine Valancy and Barney Snaith enjoying!

My table at the banquet was the “international” table, representing Montgomery’s worldwide reputation in communities across five different countries (the conference included delegates from seven countries) apart from Canada. The international table included sa We laughed and talked exuberantly, sharing our passionate love of Montgomery, our earlier adventures with Montgomery-inspired YouTube clips and fan-fiction, and our speculations on vampires as cultural texts. Maybe at the next conference, we’ll start a newspaper, like the King children in the Story Girl books, or tame a lion, like Jane and her friends in Jane of Lantern Hill. But for tonight, we limited our adventures to the dance floor, where I tried out moves I generally only use in Zumba class to the sounds of Meaghan Blanchard’s inspired musicianship. If Anne Shirley had been there, I’m certain she would have done the same.

Throughout the whole conference, we’ve all been aware of Simon Lloyd’s and Pauline MacPherson’s fantastic guidance, and and this evening, all the delegates paid enthusiastic tribute to their work above and beyond the call of duty in nurturing and organizing this event. Like Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, they’ve made sure that everyone has found a home—however briefly—at the 2012 conference.

And then, of course, we all went to the pub. . . .

Day 4 (June 24): Vappu Kannas

My name is Vappu Kannas and I’ll be giving you my impressions on Day 4—sadly the final day—of the wonderful L.M. Montgomery and Cultural Memory conference. I came to PEI all the way from Helsinki, Finland, where I’m doing my Ph.D. on Montgomery’s journals.

As seems to be a habit among the guest bloggers, I too was a bit late for the first session of Day 4. Like Melanie, I’m not a morning person and sometimes wish conference sessions happened late at night (perhaps in a pub). However, I was able to catch the last few minutes of Kate Sutherland’s talk on Montgomery’s legal battles. I’ve heard Kate’s earlier papers and I’m always so fascinated about her insights on this aspect of Montgomery’s life. Then, Adeline Carrie Koscher from Massachusetts talked about the New Woman in our cultural memory and aptly demonstrated that Anne of Green Gables is a New Woman character. The panel was completed with Emily Woster’s great talk on her Ph.D. project on Montgomery’s “reading autobiography.” I can’t wait to get my hands on Emily’s dissertation! (By the way, Emily’s sister’s name is Anne.)

The second and last panel of the day was a special one. Dana Gerberi and Sandy Wagner talked about the very concrete aspect of Montgomery’s cultural memory: her handiwork, or, more specifically, hooked mats and quilts. Dana connected the hooking of rugs with the hooking of stories, and showed us that many of Montgomery’s fictional characters (as well as herself) are characterized through their quilts, needlework, and so on. We also heard a nice piece of local folklore which states that Ewan and Maud stood on a hooked rug made by Maud’s grandmother, when they were married in Park Corner in 1911. Sandy showed us some elaborate patterned quilts with names such as “Flying Goose” and “Rising Sun”; somebody in the audience even mentioned a “Tuxedo pattern.” I wonder what that looks like.

That’s the end of my “serious” notes, but this is where the fun field trip part begins! The now-famous Bus Tour of Montgomery Places took off around midday. With our brown paper bags (containing lunch), we ventured out of Charlottetown to visit or re-visit all the important Montgomery-related places: Park Corner/Silver Bush (Anne of Green Gables Museum), Montgomery’s Birth Place in New London, Green Gables, and the Macneill Homestead in Cavendish. It was great to be back to those enchanting places that I saw for the first time in 2010 with my new LMM friends and my parents. In addition to visiting the museums, I enjoyed some nice chatting time with Mary Beth Cavert in the bus, and getting to know William (Bill) Thompson from Edmonton, who was visiting the LMM places on PEI for the first time.

Another special moment was a joint endeavour to clean Frede Campbell’s grave in the Geddie Memorial Cemetary, where we stopped briefly. Frede was a very important friend of Montgomery’s and she describes Frede’s death, which devastated her, in a long entry in her journals. Initiated by the always vigilant Vanessa Brown, it was a touching moment to see these friends of Montgomery, and thus of Frede, scratching off the lichen from the gravestone with their bare hands. We all went back to the bus with a little bit of cultural memory under our nails.

The day ended at the Macneill Homestead in Cavendish where Montgomery used to live from 1876 to 1911. Unfortunately the actual house is not there anymore, but a walk around the grounds and what used to be the old apple orchard brings Montgomery’s times vividly back. There’s something very soothing and peaceful in the atmosphere at the Homestead. We took the same little short cut path that Montgomery used to take to go to church, and heard some wonderful Island poets (Deirdre Kessler, Judy Gaudet, David Helwig, and Hugh MacDonald) recite their own poems among Montgomery’s and Milton Acorn’s poems in the Cavendish United Church, where we could also see Montgomery’s old organ, so instrumental in her meeting her future husband Reverend Ewan Macdonald. . . .

Through the misty (and a bit ghostly) evening we headed back to Charlottetown, after a short visit to Montgomery’s grave. Luckily, this wonderful conference does not have to end in the rather sad sight of Montgomery’s final resting place, but in the new beginnings of people flying off to their various destinations. We all leave PEI with our own unique but shared memories of the last four days. With ideas for fan fiction and Emily and Anne spin-offs (Anne meets Tarzan, Emily turns into a vampire, Walter meets Dean Priest etc.), I can’t wait for the next conference in 2014 to continue all the conversations began here.

Year in Review: 2008

This year, the centenary of Anne of Green Gables prompted an unprecedented number of books, contributions to scholarship, academic and public events, adaptations, and discussions. I received so many email notices throughout the year that I entitled one blog post “Chronicles of My Inbox”—which inevitably led to a sequel post, “Further Chronicles of My Inbox.” Overall, the initiatives that occurred throughout the year gave people all over the world the opportunity to learn more about L.M. Montgomery’s life, work, and legacy, and (of equal importance) the opportunity to get together with each other for discussion and debate.

In a sense, the Anne- and Montgomery-related activities throughout this year can be encapsulated in a CBC News article that was published on 8 October 2008, entitled “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. . . .

When I blogged about this news article on November 7, I ended with the following: “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 reader named Holly responded to those questions as follows:

I would hope that no one would ever try and update it…I cant believe they’re doing it with Wind in the Willows. What would Anne say? :> She’d cry sacrilege! To update them it would be a matter of changing some surface things; technologies, religious views, slang and gender roles. But doing that or anything else would be horrible. I believe that what has made the books so popular all these decades is their ‘Shakespearian’ truths. No matter what era they belong to, the books reflect human nature as it is. Comedy mixed up with tragedy…and let’s hope that will never change!

In a sense, this comment captures some of the fascinating ways that people all over the world frequently respond to new information, new insights, and new interpretations that clash with what they perceive a literary work or a character to be, to mean, to signify. This resistance speaks to the fierce attachment so many readers have to Anne of Green Gables

In seventy blog posts published throughout the year, I attempted to capture some of the highlights of this anniversary. I’m grateful to all the people who wrote to me to ensure I hadn’t missed something they’d come across: these include Eric Bungay, Cort Egan, Irene Gammel, Carole Gerson, Joshua Ginter, Yuka Kajihara, Michelle Levy, Lisa Lightbourn-Lay, Jason Nolan, Helen Salmon, and Chris Yordy.

Books, Scholarship, and Reviews

“100 Years of Anne” (Penguin Canada)

In February, Penguin Canada released three books as part of a major publishing campaign that they called “100 Years of Anne”: a hardcover edition with the original cover (featuring a note from Montgomery’s grandchildren David Macdonald and Kate Macdonald Butler), a prequel by Budge Wilson called Before Green Gables, and Elizabeth Rollins Epperly’s Imagining Anne: The Island Scrapbooks of L.M. Montgomery.

A celebration for this publishing milestone was held at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto on Tuesday, 12 February 2008:

Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables was published in 1908. This special evening features Budge Wilson, award-winning author of Before Green Gables, and Dr. Elizabeth Epperly, one of the world’s foremost scholars of L.M. Montgomery and editor of Imagining Anne: The Island Scrapbooks of L.M. Montgomery. Kate Macdonald, Montgomery’s granddaughter will be in attendance. The evening will be introduced by the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson. Book signing follows.

The first two titles were released simultaneously in the U.S. by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, whereas Before Green Gables likewise appeared in the UK. Before the end of the year, plans were announced to publish the book in French translation (as Anne . . . avant la maison aux pignons verts, translated by Dominique Fortier) by Éditions du Trécarré (Montreal) in January 2009, shortly before the book appeared in paperback.

Biographies, Book-Length Studies, and TV Tie-Ins

Anne of Green Gables the Musical: 101 Things You Didn't Know

Don Harron’s Anne of Green Gables the Musical: 101 Things You Didn’t Know (first listed on as A Hundred Things You Didn’t Know about Anne of Green Gables, the Musical) was published by White Knight Books.

Irene Gammel’s Looking for Anne: How Lucy Maud Montgomery Dreamed Up a Literary Classic was published by Key Porter Books (Toronto) in April and (as Looking for Anne of Green Gables: The Story of L.M. Montgomery and Her Literary Classic) by St. Martin’s Press in July.

Elizabeth MacLeod’s Lucy Maud Montgomery, a biography for young readers, was published by Kids Can Press as part of its Kids Can Read series.

Elizabeth Waterston’s Magic Island: The Fictions of L.M. Montgomery was published by Oxford University Press (Toronto) in June.

Mary Henley Rubio’s long-awaited biography, Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings, was published by Doubleday Canada in October.

Kevin Sullivan’s Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning, adapted from his screenplay, was published by Key Porter Books in October, several weeks before the premiere of his film of the same name on CTV in December. His publishing house, Davenport Press, published tie-in editions of Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, and Anne of the Island with photographs from Sullivan miniseries as cover art; an audio CD of Anne of Green Gables, read by Kevin Sullivan; Anne of Green Gables: The Official Film Companion, adapted by Kevin Sullivan, and Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning; Official Movie Companion.

Canadian Children’s Literature / Littérature canadienne pour la jeunesse (Fall 2008)

The fall 2008 issue of Canadian Children’s Literature / Littérature candienne pour la jeunesse, published at the Centre for Research in Young People’s Texts and Cultures at the University of Winnipeg, includes several items about the life and work of L.M. Montgomery.

Margaret Mackey (University of Alberta), “Anne of Green Gables, Elijah of Buxton, and Margaret of Newfoundland” (7–29)

Kathleen A. Miller (University of Delaware), “Weaving a Tapestry of Beauty: Anne Shirley as Domestic Artist” (30–49)

Lindsey McMaster (Nipissing University), “The ‘Murray Look’: Trauma as Family Legacy in L.M. Montgomery’s Emily of New Moon Trilogy” (50–74)

Perry Nodelman (University of Winnipeg), “Rereading Anne of Green Gables in Anne of Ingleside: L.M. Montgomery’s Variations” (75–97)

The issue also contains an editorial by Perry Nodelman; a short article entitled “The L.M. Montgomery Collection at the University of Guelph” by Lorne BruceWayne Johnston, and Helen Salmon; and review articles by Carole Gerson and E. Holly Pike.

Articles and Reviews

The January–February issue of Quill and Quire contains an article by Megan Grittani-Livingston entitled “Anne Is in the Air: Penguin Ramps Up Major New Green Gables Campaign.” It also includes Sarah Ellis’s laudatory review of Wilson’s Before Green Gables, entitled “Channelling L.M.”

My review of Epperly’s Imagining Anne, Wilson’s Before Green Gables, and Gammel’s Looking for Anne, appeared in the Globe and Mail on 22 March as “Eternally Anne.”

Susan Lawrence’s review of Epperly’s Imagining Anne appeared in the April issue of Quill and Quire.

Meghan O’Rourke’s article “Anne of 100 Candles” appeared on Slate on 8 July.

Her temper and her gaffes provide fodder for those village members who dislike having a child of “uncertain parentage” around. Yet with time, Anne wins nearly everyone over, as her grace, curiosity, and haplessness catalyze the bloodless community. She enables adults to reconnect with the childish soul within.

Ramin Setoodeh’s article “It’s Still Not Easy Being Green: Anne of Green Gables Turns 100 This Year but She’s the Most Modern Girl in the Bookstores” appeared in the 28 July issue of Newsweek.

Irene Gammel’s review of Rubio’s Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings appeared in the Globe and Mail on 15 November as “The Fatal Disappointments of Lucy Maud.”

Scott MacDonald’s article “The Death of L.M. Montgomery” appeared in the December issue of Quill and Quire, which also includes Wilson’s Before Green Gables in its list of 15 Books of the Year.

Daphne Gordon’s “Anne of Green Gables Turns 100,” Bruce DeMara’s “The Once and Future Anne Shirley,” and Kelly Toughill’s “Gentle Island” appeared in the Toronto Star on 26 January.

Sarah Weinman’s “Anne’s Evergreen Gables” appeared in the Guardian on 4 February.

Conferences, Exhibits, and Events

Anne of Green Gables: A Literary Icon at 100

The “Anne of Green Gables: A Literary Icon at 100” exhibit curated by Irene Gammel was open to the public at Spadina Museum: Historic House and Gardens (285 Spadina Road) from February until September. The opening reception for the exhibit coincided with the book launch for Gammel’s Looking for Anne on 1 May 2008. Key Porter Books launched its own website devoted to Looking for Anne, which included a downloadable extract from the book, an interview with the author, little-known facts, and reviews.

Lecture at Sylvia Hotel in Vancouver (31 March 2008)

Carole Gerson, professor of English at Simon Fraser University, gave a talk entitled “One Hundred Years of Anne: Lucy Maud Montgomery.”

A Ryerson Showcase: The Centenary of Anne of Green Gables (Ryerson University, Heaslip House, 7 April 2008)

Organized by ASC 800 students at Ryerson University, this one-day event invited “proposals for 15-minute papers and creative pieces related to any aspect of this classic novel,” as stated in the call for proposals.

The range of topics is open and papers focusing on the novel’s interpretation, its composition, or its cultural significance, are all equally welcomed. Creative pieces can take the form of an imagined story, a performance, an installation, fashion design, or digital media: please provide low resolution samples where appropriate. Ryerson Press was the first Canadian publisher of Anne of Green Gables in 1942, and we are proud to host this event at Ryerson University on April 7, 2008.

The conference included a welcome message from Kate Macdonald Butler as well as presentations by Irene Gammel, Ann F. Howey, Helen Hoy, Benjamin Lefebvre, Elizabeth MacLeod, Leslie McGrath, Jason Nolan, Margaret Steffler, Judy Stoffman, Hildi Froese Tiessen, and Paul Tiessen. It also included contributions by several Ryerson students, including an installation of Anne merchandise (by Laura Brown), a construction of Anne’s puffed sleeves dress (by Katelyn van Massenhoven), research findings about Anne cover artist Hilton Hassell (by Mandy Wilson), and a creative performance by Jessica Frey as Anne Shirley.

Jason Nolan posted several photos from the event.

Anne in the Archives (Alumni-in-Action Annual Spring Luncheon, University of Guelph, 21 May 2008)

On 21 May, Mary Henley Rubio gave a lecture entitled “Anne in the Archives” at the annual spring luncheon of Alumni-in-Action at the University of Guelph’s arboretum. As the press release stated concerning the centenary of Anne of Green Gables, “We have great reason to celebrate at the University of Guelph. The McLaughlin Library is home to the largest archival collection of L.M. Montgomery personal archival material in the world.”

Anne of Green Gables: A Literary Icon at 100: Leading and Emerging Scholars Reflect on Anne of Green Gables in the Centenary Year (University of British Columbia Library, Irving Barber Learning Centre, 31 May 2008)

Chair: Irene Gammel (Ryerson University)

This round table of scholars is dedicated to taking stock of Canada’s most famous literary icon at its centenary anniversary, L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. What is behind the popularity of the novel? What is its current global value and status? What is its future in Canada and the world? Each speaker has five minutes to make a brief statement, which can be personal and scholarly, before we open to general discussion and audience question and answer.

Panelists included Deirdre Baker (University of Toronto), Cecily Devereux (University of Alberta), Janice Fiamengo (University of Ottawa), Irene Gammel (Ryerson University), Carole Gerson (Simon Fraser University), Benjamin Lefebvre (University of Alberta), Mavis Reimer (University of Winnipeg), and Margaret Steffler (Trent University).

Anne of Green Gables: New Directions at 100 (ACCUTE conference panel, UBC, 31 May 2008)

Organizers and chairs: Irene Gammel (Ryerson University) and Benjamin Lefebvre (University of Alberta)

Alexander MacLeod (Saint Mary’s University), “On the Road from Bright River: Shifting Social Space in Anne of Green Gables”

Jason Nolan (Ryerson University), “Anne of the Undead: Changeling Child and the Uncanny in Avonlea”

Alison Matthews David and Kimberly Wahl (Ryerson University), “Taste and Transformation: Negotiating Codes of Fashion in Avonlea”

Reflecting on Anne of Green Gables (Library and Archives Canada)

Reflecting on Anne of Green Gables, an exhibit co-curated by June Creelman and Irene Gammel, opened on 4 June 2008 at Library and Archives Canada (395 Wellington St., Ottawa) and was scheduled to be available until 1 March 2009. More details are available in a Reuters article covering the exhibit.

Lectures and Exhibit at Toronto Public Library (September–December)

On 25 September, Mary Henley Rubio delivered the second annual Sybille Pantazzi memorial lecture at the Lillian H. Smith branch. Her lecture, entitled “In Search of My Subject: Writing the Biography of L.M. Montgomery,” anticipated the publication of Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings, by Doubleday Canada, in late October.

On 23 October, Deirdre Baker delivered the twenty-first Helen E. Stubbs memorial lecture at the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books. Her lecture, entitled “L.M. Montgomery at Her Finest and Funniest: How Montgomery Has Kept Us Laughing for a Hundred Years,” examined Montgomery’s humour to “show how its influence lives on and enlivens contemporary Canadian children’s books.”

The Toronto Public Library’s exhibit, entitled “Anne of Green Gables: Celebrating 100 Years in Print,” was open between 13 September and 5 December. It ranged “from formative books enjoyed by Montgomery in her lonely childhood through her own writings, and will include contemporary books that show the enduring influence of Anne.”

On 20 November, the Toronto Public Library hosted “All about Anne and Lucy Maud Montgomery,” a literary lunch that featured Irene Gammel and Elizabeth Rollins Epperly.

Green Gables to Globalization: Crossover, Canada and Children’s Books (iBbY Ireland, Church of Ireland College of Education, Dublin, 18 October 2008)

The main theme of the conference will examine ways in which children’s literature transcend boundaries of all kinds, focusing in particular on crossover fiction and a sense of belonging in books from Canada, a post-colonial, multiethnic society.

Irene Gammel (Ryerson University), “Looking for Anne of Green Gables: A Literary Icon at 100”

Return to Prince Edward Island: Anne of Green Gables at 100 (MLA Convention, San Francisco, 29 December 2008)

Chair: Michele Ann Abate (Hollins University)

Kathleen A. Miller (University of Delaware, Newark), “The Creation of the Family in Anne of Green Gables: Making Twenty-First Century Readers at Home in the Victorian”

Val Czerny (Florida Atlantic University), “A Return to the Wild; or, Long-Lasting, Mystical ‘Lunacy’ in Anne of Green Gables

Fiona Paton (State University of New York, New Paltz), “The Problem Novel Then and Now: Using Anne of Green Gables in the Contemporary Young-Adult Literature Class”

Irene Gammel (Ryerson University), “From Formula Fiction to Girls’ Classic: Anne of Green Gables, Fashion Magazines, and Sunday School Writing”

From Canada to the World: The Cultural Influence of Lucy Maud Montgomery (University of Guelph, 23–25 October 2008)

This symposium focused on the University of Guelph’s extensive archival collection of Montgomery materials and its plan to launch a collections website (no longer online).

The initial notice from Helen Salmon of the University of Guelph Library read as follows:

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.

The press release, which I shared on 6 October, reads as follows:

It’s been 100 years since Anne Shirley first peeked out of the pages of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. An immediate success, the book would become one of the most-read and best-loved stories in the world. A century later, the University of Guelph is hosting a conference that will celebrate Montgomery’s life and her influence on Canada and the world.

Running Oct. 23 to 25, “From Canada to the World: The Cultural Influence of Lucy Maud Montgomery” will bring some of this country’s foremost Montgomery scholars and biographers to campus. The conference will feature a unique combination of lectures, performances, films, music, tours and exhibitions.

“L.M. Montgomery has enchanted millions of readers around the world, but she also had a tremendous effect on other writers and helped shape Canadian culture,” said Sue Bennett, director of University and community relations and one of the conference organizers.

“The themes Montgomery wrote about so adeptly and vividly were often drawn from her own experiences,” added Bennett. “She led a very complex life, and here at U of G, we’ve been lucky enough to glimpse some of her experiences through our L.M. Montgomery Collection. So it’s very fitting that we are hosting this important event.”

U of G has the largest collection of Montgomery memorabilia in Canada, including her handwritten journals, scrapbooks, handiwork, photo albums, legal and business papers, letters and the Order of the British Empire medal she received in 1935. It also contains original typescripts of some of her works, including Rilla of Ingleside. Montgomery wrote 22 novels during her lifetime and kept extensive journals from the time she was 14.

Guelph has also long been the academic home to two of the most pre-eminent Montgomery experts in the world—retired English professors Mary Rubio and Elizabeth Waterston. In the 1980s, they were asked by Montgomery’s son, Dr. Stuart Macdonald, to edit his mother’s personal journals. The works were published in five volumes of The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery.

Rubio has also written a biography about Montgomery, The Gift of Wings, which will be in bookstores next month. On Oct. 25, she will read from the biography and talk about the process of writing it.

Waterston will also speak, discussing Rilla of Ingleside as one of the few women’s war novels about the First World War. She also has a new book about Montgomery coming out this fall, Magic Island. Each chapter discusses a different Montgomery book, and Waterston draws parallels between Montgomery’s internal “island”—her personal life, her professional career—and the characters in her novels.

Other Saturday speakers include chief librarian and CIO Mike Ridley, who will explain the importance of the Montgomery collection to the University. In addition, Helen Salmon, associate chief librarian, and Lorne Bruce, head of archives and special collections, will talk about the collection and launch the L.M. Montgomery research centre website, which includes digitized images of the collection that make it visible and easily accessible.

Saturday will also feature a luncheon based on recipes from Montgomery’s personal cookbook. Food writer Liz Driver will discuss the cookbook as an artifact.

That evening, U of G chancellor Pamela Wallin will give a keynote address to conference participants.

Other conference highlights include a film screening and panel discussion at The Bookshelf Oct. 23 at 7 p.m.

The film screening and panel discussion, entitled “Takes on Maud,” centred on two short films by Atlantis Films: I Know a Secret (based on a short story by Montgomery) and Boys and Girls (based on a short story by Alice Munro and featuring Megan Follows in the lead role). Panelists included Elizabeth Waterston, professor emerita of English at the University of Guelph; Paul Salmon of the School of English and Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph, and “film historian Benjamin Lefebvre of the University of Alberta,” according to the conference website.

15th Annual Montgomery Christmas (Norval, Ontario, 29 November 2008)

This event consisted a day of activities, including a visit to church bazaars at Norval Presbyterian Church, Norval United Church, and St. Paul’s Anglican Church; an event with Mary Rubio at the L.M. Montgomery Museum at Crawford’s Village Bakeshop; a re-creation of the 1919 Anne of Green Gables film, with Linda Jackson-Hutton and Jack Hutton, at St. Paul’s Parish Hall; and papers by Benjamin Lefebvre, Irene Gammel, and Edith Smith at the Norval Presbyterian Church.

Beyond Green Gables (NeMLA, Boston, 27 February 2009)

Chair: Rita Bode (Trent University)

Kate Scarth (Memorial University), “Taking the Country to the City: Redefining ‘Home’ in L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of the Island

Christiana R. Salah (University of Connecticut), “Bonds of Sea and Land: The Prehensile Places of L.M. Montgomery’s Fiction”

Trisha Tucker (University of Southern California), “L.M. Montgomery and the Curious Child”

Anne Ramirez (Neumann College), “Anne Shirley and Ellen Montgomery: Imagining a Wider World”

The Death of L.M. Montgomery

On 20 September 2008, I shared the news that an article entitled “The Heartbreaking Truth about Anne’s Creator,” written by Kate Macdonald Butler (Montgomery’s granddaughter), had appeared in that day’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.

Four days later, on 24 October 2008, an article on the front page of the Globe and Mail entitled “Is This Lucy Maud’s Suicide Note?” reproduced the text of the 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 was accompanied by a follow-up article by James Adams entitled “Lucy Maud Suffered ‘Unbearable Psychological Pain,’” which includes extracts from an email interview with Mary Henley Rubio, whose biography of Montgomery, Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings, was scheduled to be published the next month by Doubleday Canada but ended up being released three weeks early.

Calls for Papers

L.M. Montgomery—Writer of the World (conference, Uppsala University, Sweden, 20–23 August 2009)

Conference coordinators: Gabriella Åhmansson and Åsa Warnqvist

L.M. Montgomery’s world famous novel Anne of Green Gables has continued to attract readers from all over the world for a century. Our centenary conference is a tribute to all of those who have made 100 years of readership possible.

The main theme of the conference is “Reading Response.” We will explore reading experiences of Anne of Green Gables and other works by L.M. Montgomery. One section will be dedicated to Anne of Green Gables in Sweden. We also accept open proposals for papers on Montgomery’s works.

We invite you to send in one-page proposals for papers, together with a short biographical note.

L.M. Montgomery and the Matter of Nature (conference, University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, June 2010)

In 2010 we invite you to consider L.M. Montgomery and the matter of nature. While multiple romanticisms have informed L.M. Montgomery’s passionate views of nature, her descriptions were complex as she wrote both of and for nature. What are the effects of the representations and images of nature that are crafted and circulated in the fiction of Montgomery, and in that of other writers of literature (especially for children and youth)? How do her narrations of nature shape children and adults within and across cultures? How do seasonality and place function in her life writing? How do particular constructions of nature work in fiction, across such differences as gender, race, culture, and class? What are the cultural and historical contingencies surrounding nature in Montgomery’s work?

In recent years, the matter of “nature” itself has been the subject of much-contested debate and theoretical innovation across disciplines. Nature situates binary relationships that are often represented as hierarchical and oppositional. These include nature and culture, child and adult, animal and human, male and female, reason and emotion, mind and body, modern and traditional, raw and cooked, domestic and wild, urban and rural—among others. How might any of these formulations be examined and challenged (or not) in the context of Montgomery’s work? What does it mean to consider Montgomery as a “green” writer (Doody) or as a proto-ecofeminist (Holmes)? What do Montgomery’s provocative readings of nature offer us at a time of environmental crises and ecological preoccupations?

Please send one-page abstracts and short biographical sketches by June 30, 2009, to: L.M. Montgomery Institute, University of Prince Edward Island, 550 University Avenue, Charlottetown, PE C1A 4P3 Canada. Email:

Anne of Green Gables: New Directions at 100 (collection of essays)

Since its first publication in 1908, L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of  Green Gables has enjoyed a remarkable success with a worldwide following of readers and an energetic scholarly engagement over the past two decades. As the novel enters the second centennial of its publication, the University of Toronto Press is interested in publishing a collection of scholarly essays dedicated to the topic Anne of Green Gables: New Directions. The editors are interested in papers related to any aspect of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne, including its inspirations, its sequels, and its cultural impact. Innovative approaches including interdisciplinary perspectives that make us see Anne and the world of Avonlea in new ways are particularly encouraged. Papers should engage with relevant scholarship, and should be written in lively and accessible prose. Illustrations and formerly unpublished material are particularly welcomed. Twenty-five-page papers including all endnotes and bibliography should be accompanied by a bio-sketch and abstract. All essays are subject to blind peer review.

Submission format requirements: Papers should be double-spaced throughout, using Times New Roman 12-point font, with all notes at the end, and a separate file for the works cited. All files should be in Microsoft Word format. File names should follow this principle: lastname-paper (e.g., smith-paper) and lastname-bib (e.g., smith-bib) for the works cited. Submitters should also submit a well formulated 100-word abstract (lastname-abstract) and a 50-word bio-sketch (lastname-bio). Deadline: August 15, 2008. Early submissions are encouraged.

The Idea of “Classic” (collection of essays)

The L.M. Montgomery Institute is seeking submissions for a proposed publication to be based on the theme of “classic” as discussed at the eighth biennial international Montgomery conference, “L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables and the Idea of ‘Classic.’”

Submission deadline is 1 September 2008, but early submission is encouraged. Questions concerning the publication may be directed to the L.M. Montgomery Institute.

Centenary Events in Japan

On 8 June, this website published the following information, provided by Yuka Kajihara.

Whether you are aware or not, there are numerous of Anne-related events happening in Japan! Recently I was asked to provide a resource on this matter by a journalist from Canwest News Service and I made a brief list of it:

  • The exhibition entitled “Hanako Muraoka and Akage no An” is held at International Institute for Children’s Literature in Osaka, Japan between May and July. Because the first translators of Anne of Green Gables is Hanako Muraoka, there is no way to talk about Anne without her.
  • The nationwide exhibition entitled “Anne of Green Gables: L.M. Montgomery’s beloved PEI” starts in June until next June 2009. The display includes Magog (from Robert Montgomery), a few pages of manuscript from AoGG, LMM’s crazy quilt and more.
  • Embassy of Canada in Tokyo supports some of the events on “Anne,” such as Gekidan Shiki’s musical Anne of Green Gables:
  • Hanako Muraoka’s biography Anne’s Cradle written by her grand-daughter Eri Muraoka is published in June 2008. Nowadays, the name of Hanako Muraoka (poet, translator, Children’s writer, radio personality) is popular only because of her translation of the Anne series.
  • In celebrating 100th anniversary of Anne, newly revised edition of Akage no An (translated by Hanako Muraoka, revised by Mie Muraoka who is another grand-daughter of Hanako’s) is published by Shinchosha, Tokyo. In this edition, Mie added the portions that Hanako had omitted to translate in some unknown reasons.
  • Budge Wilson’s Before Green Gables is translated/published by Shinchosha in June. The Japanese title is Hello Anne.
  • Nippon Hoso Kyokai (NHK) broadcast a special program “Welcome to the Anne’s World” in January. This one show was rebroadcast 2 more times due to popular demand. It includes a letter by Luella and some photographs of Luella with the letter that Jason took. You can see the pictures, and as well as pictures of Luella’s. One is of lover’s lane given to her by LMM and the other is a picture of Luella as a baby being held by LMM. See Some of you might find it funny that we actually took these photos in a sushi bar in Yorkville. Luella’s favourite place.
  • NHK also broadcast a tree-month long (from April to June) English conversation program “The journey to Akage no An.” I heard that the textbook of this program has sold more than 130,000 copies so far. That figure is incredible! Anne is not only a gateway to learn PEI but also to learn English to Japanese audience. The staff visited PEI last Summer.
  • There are many other Anne-related things happening in Japan: smaller production size of musicals, another exhibitions of Anne and many other publications. A scholarly book on Anne to which I contributed will be published soon. A short biography of L.M. Montgomery for Juvenile readers by Miki Okuda was published in March. And the Nippon Animation Co., LTD sells a boxed set of DVD entitled, “Akage no An: the DVD Memorial Box.”
  • As you probably already know, the first translator of AOGG into Japanese is Hanako Muraoka (1893-1968). Muraoka once worked for a publisher Kyobunkan in Tokyo which was originally established by Methodist missionaries from the USA, in 1885. This is the place Muraoka first met Canadian missionary Miss Loretta L. Shaw. In 1939, before leaving Japan due to the WWII, Shaw gave a copy of Anne of Green Gables to Muraoka as a keepsake. Kyobunkan is now having special events in order to celebrate Hanako’s work & Anne’s 100th anniversary.
  • June 21–July 16. “Akage no An This exhibition is focusing on Muraoka’s work and displays books translated by her, including L.M. Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, Eleanor Porter and more. Along with these books, photographs of PEI taken by well known photographer Kazutoshi Yoshimura are displayed. and the work of Hanako Muraoka” at Nalnia Hall, Kyobunkan, in Tokyo.
  • June 29. 2-3 p.m. Eri Muraoka Gallery Talk at Narnia Hall, Kyobunkan. Eri is Hanako’s grand-daughter who recently published a biography of Hanako. Her talk is entitled (loosely translated) “The very first Akage no An: a promise to Miss Shaw, editor of Kyobunkan.”

Stage and Screen

Echo Bridge Home Entertainment released Emily of New Moon: The Complete First Season on DVD on 9 September.

Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning, a telefilm written and directed by Kevin Sullivan, had its world premiere at the 2008 Boston Film Festival on Monday, 15 September 2008. The synopsis on their schedule reads as follows:

Kevin Sullivan’s original story explores the unwritten origins of the iconic character, Anne of Green Gables, as Anne finds a secret letter in the floorboards of Green Gables, almost 50 years after she arrived on Prince Edward Island, that reveals her troubled family history.

The 141-minute film, which stars Barbara Hershey, Hannah Endicott-Douglas, Rachel Blanchard, and Shirley MacLaine, aired on CTV on 14 December. A press release from Sullivan Entertainment included a detailed synopsis:

It is 1945 and Anne Shirley (Academy-award nominee and Golden Globe winner, Barbara Hershey) now a successful, middle-aged writer has returned to Prince Edward Island for an extended visit. On a whim, she agrees to write a play for a theatre producer. The play, she reasons, will keep her busy—at least busy enough to not go out of her mind with worry about her only son who has yet to return from the war overseas. But a long-hidden secret in the form of a letter from her errant father, discovered under the floorboards at Green Gables, provides a distraction of its own. As Anne struggles to complete the play, she delves into long-buried memories, reliving the troubled years before she arrived as an orphan at the Green Gables farmhouse. She is forced to confront the fact that she made up stories about her life; after her mother died and when her father deserted his young daughter. During that time, Young Anne (newcomer Hannah Endicott-Douglas), is taken into the care of a wealthy matriarch, Amelia Thomas (Academy-award winner Shirley MacLaine) and her daughter-in-law, Louisa (Rachel Blanchard), which changes her life forever.

Over the course of one remarkable summer, Anne Shirley discovers the astonishing truth about her father, the origins of her quest for “kindred spirits” and the roots of her brilliant, magical imagination.

Around the Web

The University of Guelph Library launched a searchable digital collection of L.M. Montgomery’s photographs, available through the Our Ontario portal.

On 13 January 2008, a news article entitled “Website Not a Kindred Spirit, Says Anne Authority,” appeared on the website for CBC News:

The P.E.I. government is investigating a new website for young girls that it says is using images of Anne of Green Gables without permission.

Called, the Toronto-based website says it is “inspired by the much-loved Anne Of Green Gables novels.” Aimed at girls aged six to 14, it claims to be the most secure website for children in the world. It requires a fingerprint reader and registration papers signed by a professional as recognized by the company running the site.

But it is not the company’s security protocol that caught the attention of the Anne of Green Gables Licensing Authority. Anne is a trademark owned by the government of Prince Edward Island, and Development Minister Richard Brown told CBC News on Thursday they take violations of that trademark seriously.

“We’re pursuing this quite vigorously,” said Brown, who visited the website and noted many references to and images of Anne.

“Anne of Green Gables is a trademark of Prince Edward Island, and we’re going to protect that trademark.”

The Anne Authority, which is jointly owned by the province and the heirs of author L. M. Montgomery, was established to ensure only a wholesome image of Anne is reflected in products it licenses. The authority says they haven’t given permission to

Emily Want, spokeswoman for, said she approached the Montgomery heirs for permission to use Anne images, but the family was not interested in her request. Want said she’ll wait to hear from the Anne Authority before she decides her next move.

The web site features a certain redheaded girl in pigtails.

The web site features a certain redheaded girl in pigtails.

In February, I shared the sad news about the recent death of Elizabeth Mawson, who had played Marilla Cuthbert in Anne of Green Gables: The Musical at the Confederation Centre for the Arts in Charlottetown between 1971 and 2003, at the age of 81.

On May 28, an article entitled “New Theatre Festival Takes Root in L.M. Montgomery’s Avonlea” appeared on the website for CBC News:

A new theatre festival soon to begin in Cavendish, P.E.I., will present a suite of plays dating from the lifetime of Lucy Maud Montgomery, the author of Anne of Green Gables.

The Island community, already a mecca for Anne lovers from around the world, is beginning the new summer theatre festival in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the publication of Anne of Green Gables.

Duncan McIntosh, a director of theatre, opera and special events, is the artistic director.

He plans a season based on playwrights who inspired L.M. Montgomery, who lived from 1874 to 1942, or whose works were influenced by the writer.

The first season will include:

  • The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, dating from 1908, in a new adaptation by McIntosh.
  • The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, first performed 1895.
  • Village Wooing by George Bernard Shaw, written in 1933.

Previews begin June 20 with the season to run from June 27 to Aug. 31. Anne of Green Gables was first published on June 20, 1908.

A 200-seat theatre has been created in the Church at Avonlea Village, a church built in 1872 and moved from its original location in Long River.

“It was a church that Montgomery attended, that she dreamed and hoped and prayed and imagined her immortal stories in, this church,” McIntosh told CBC News.

“And we as a community of Cavendish thought this was a perfect place to make our contribution to the celebration of the 100th anniversary.”

McIntosh, who directed the dedication ceremonies of Canada’s war memorial in Vimy, France, also directed the world premiere of Anne and Gilbert, a spinoff of the long-running Anne musical in Charlottetown.

He is a past artistic director of the Charlottetown Festival, the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton and Theatre Plus in Toronto, and has been a resident director at the Canadian Film Centre and the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto.

On 31 May 2008, I shared that I would be interviewed (in French) on Radio-Canada 1 on the centenary of Anne of Green Gables:

I will be interviewed by Line Boily on her radio show Les arts et les autres on Monday, 2 June 2008, at 1:05 EST, on Radio-Canada 1 (French-language CBC). The topic is Anne of Green Gables and I will be commenting on its origins, its continued international popularity in the centenary year, and its success in adaptations such as movies, musicals, and tourist sites in Ontario and Prince Edward Island. Since I am presently in Vancouver attending Congress, I will be speaking to her from Studio C at CBC Vancouver.

Les arts et les autres is broadcast across Ontario; you can also listen to it live through the Radio-Canada website.

Je serai l’invité de Line Boily à l’émission de radio Les arts et les autres ce lundi, 2 juin 2008, à 13h05 (heure normale de l’est), à Radio-Canada (première chaine). L’entrevue porte sur le roman Anne . . . La Maison aux pignons verts : ses origines, sa popularité internationale continue pendant l’année de son centième anniversaire, et son succès dans les médias connexes, telles que le petit écran, la comédie musicale, et le site touristique en Ontario et à l’Île-du-Prince-Édouard. Étant donné que je suis présentement à Vancouver pour assister au Congrès des sciences humaines, je lui parlerai du Studio C à Radio-Canada Vancouver.

L’émission est diffusée à travers l’Ontario; vous pouvez également écouter à l’émission au site web de Radio-Canada.

On 27 June, I shared an extract from a recent CBC News article about a break-in at the Lucy Maud Montgomery Birthplace in New London, Prince Edward Island:

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.

On 26 July, I posted that Jack Zipes, who wrote the introduction to a recent Modern Library edition of Anne of Green Gables, and Jennifer Holm, a two-time Newbery Honor recipient, had appeared on American University Radio’s Diane Rehm Show on 23 July 2008 to talk about the centenary of the novel.

On 5 December, an article appeared on the website for CBC News concerning a first edition of Anne of Green Gables:

Christie’s in New York will auction a first edition of Anne of Green Gables on Friday morning.

The 1908 book by L. M. Montgomery, which spawned an entire industry on Prince Edward Island, including Canada’s longest running musical, is described on the auction house’s website as “the property of a lady.”

Several movie versions of the book have also been made.

First editions of Anne are rare. While it eventually became a worldwide phenomenon, published in at least 30 languages, the first run of the book was small.

The edition on sale Friday is described as unusual because it comes in a brown cover. Most of the first editions come in a green cover.

Christie’s expects the book to sell for between $8,000 US and $12,000 US, but in 2005 a green-covered first edition went for $24,000. At the time, that was the fifth first edition to go up for auction in 30 years.

This sale is part of an auction that includes 299 books and manuscripts.

The following day, an article entitled “Green Gables First Edition Sells for More Than $8,000” appeared in the Globe and Mail (6 December 2008, p. R14):

Green Gables first edition sells for more than $8,000 [Globe and Mail, 6 December 2008, R14]

Toronto—A rare first edition of the original 1908 Anne of Green Gables by Canada’s L.M. Montgomery sold at auction in New York yesterday for $8,125 (U.S.), including buyer’s premium. The clothbound edition, offered without the even-rarer dust jacket, went into bidding with a presale estimate of $8,000-$12,000.

What made the Christie’s consignment something of a rarity was its tan cover. Most first editions—it’s believed Montgomery’s Boston-based publisher printed no more than 7,000 copies in spring, 1908—have a green binding. The record for a first-edition Anne sold at auction is $24,000, set by Sotheby’s New York in 2005. That book was consigned by a collector in Victoria. (James Adams)

Our Anniversary

And finally, on 9 July, a blog post entitled “Our Anniversary” highlighted the fact that the L.M. Montgomery Research Group was celebrating its tenth anniversary that summer:

Jason and Yuka and I started the initial discussion list at the University of Toronto shortly after the Message in a Bottle conference at UPEI in June 1998. A decade later, with a membership of thirty-eight people from around the world, the discussion list continues to go strong, and we’re very pleased with the virtual community of scholars and researchers that has developed. And with the new LMMRG website, launched in 2006, we continue to explore new ways to disseminate research.

But with this milestone comes a significant change: Jason and Yuka are now stepping down as co-chairs of the LMMRG, after a decade of service. Jason is leaving to devote all his energies on a number of research projects in early childhood education at Ryerson University, and Yuka, Osborne Collections Assistant at the Toronto Public Library, will now join the advisory board. I want to thank Jason and Yuka publicly for everything they’ve done (and will continue to do) for this community, which would not exist without their tenacity and hard work. I also look forward to the next ten years of scholarly research.

Year in Review: 2007

On 10 February 2007, I posted a blog message welcoming users to a website then known as L.M. Montgomery Research Group, co-chaired by Jason Nolan, me, and Yuka Kajihara: “This is a space where we’ll be adding updates and announcements about everything L.M. Montgomery.”

In thirty-nine additional posts published by the end of that year (three by Jason, the remainder by me), this website reported on several events that occurred or were announced throughout 2007. Thanks to Mary Beth Cavert and Elizabeth Macleod for bringing some of these items to our attention.

Books, Scholarship, and Print Culture

On March 3, I posted a message from Yuka sharing the news of the recent death of Doris Anderson, editor of Chatelaine magazine from 1957 to 1977, whom Yuka had met in 1998, at the 90th birthday party for Mollie Gillen (author of the 1975 biography The Wheel of Things, which was an expansion of an article published in Chatelaine in 1973):

Mollie often told me that because Doris asked her to write an article on LMM, Mollie started to read LMM’s books and that eventually Mollie located the now famous bunch of letters written by LMM to Mr Macmillan in Scotland. [. . .]

So, Mollie’s article on LMM appeared in such a popular magazine and received high praise from the readers. Based on the short article, Mollie developed a biography of LMM, The Wheel of Things, which was published in 1975. [. . .]

If Doris didn’t pay attention to LMM in the 70s, Mollie would not have thought about writing the biography, let alone reading LMM’s books. I learned a life of LMM through The Wheel of Things.

Cover of EMILY OF NEW MOON, by L.M. Montgomery, with an afterword by Alice Munro. It consists of a pair of scissors and a lock of black hair against a green background.

Additional blog posts announced recent and forthcoming publications by/about L.M. Montgomery, in some cases providing cover art as well:

  • New editions of Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon as part of McClelland and Stewart’s New Canadian Library series, the former first published in 1992 with an afterword by Margaret Atwood (and due out in late January 2008), the latter first published in 1989 with an afterword by Alice Munro (and due out on 4 December 2007)
  • Three new books (and a companion website) from Penguin Canada’s 100 Years of Anne initiative, to be released early in 2008: a new edition of Anne of Green Gables with the original cover (erroneously announced as consisting of the original text), a prequel novel by Budge Wilson entitled Before Green Gables, and Elizabeth Rollins Epperly’s Imagining Anne: The Island Scrapbooks of L.M. Montgomery
  • Elizabeth MacLeod’s biography Lucy Maud Montgomery (Kids Can Press, 2008)
  • Irene Gammel’s book-length study Looking for Anne: How Lucy Maud Montgomery Dreamed Up a Literary Classic (Key Porter Books, 2008), announced in Quill and Quire as Looking for Anne: The Life and Times of Anne of Green Gables
  • Jean Mitchell’s collection of essays Storm and Dissonance: L.M. Montgomery and Conflict (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008)
  • Elizabeth Rollins Epperly’s Through Lover’s Lane: L.M. Montgomery’s Photography and Visual Imagination (University of Toronto Press, 2007)
  • Jane Urquhart’s L.M. Montgomery, a contribution to the Extraordinary Canadians series (Penguin Canada, 2009)
  • Lynn Manuel’s picture book The Summer of the Marco Polo (Orca Book Publishers, 2007)
  • Marion Hoffmann’s The Anne of Green Gables Puzzle Book (Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 2007)
  • Deirdre Kessler’s abridgement Anne of Green Gables: Stories for Young People (Nimbus Publishing, 2008), a reissue of Kessler’s A Child’s Anne (1983)
  • Monika B. Hilder’s chapter “Imagining the Ultimate Kindred Spirit: The Feminist Theological Vision of L.M. Montgomery,” in Feminist Theology with a Canadian Accent: Canadian Perspectives on Contextual Feminist Theology (Novalis Publishing, 2008).
  • Kate Lawson’s article “The Victorian Sickroom in L.M. Montgomery’s The Blue Castle and Emily’s Quest: Sentimental Fiction and the Selling of Dreams” (in The Lion and the Unicorn)
  • Ann F. Howey’s article “Reading Elaine: Marjorie Richardson’s and L.M. Montgomery’s Red-Haired Lily Maids” (in Children’s Literature Association Quarterly)

Stage and Screen

Early in the year, Yuka shared the news that an anime series based on Emily of New Moon was in production for the NHK educational television network in Japan. The series, called Kaze no Shōjo Emily, would consist of 26 episodes of 25 minutes each. More information can be found on the Anime News Network website.

Asked if there were plans to dub the series into English, Yuka responded:

Last year, four of the animation staff came to visit me at the Osborne. They said that they are planning to sell the broadcast right to foreign countries. Japanese animations are quite popular in south eastern countries and European countries too. So it must happen sooner or later. But I didn’t find out when.

Professor Akamatsu, has been much more active consulting on thep roject, so perhaps she will know when it gets translated before I do. But nothing’s clear at the moment.

Later in the spring, Sullivan Entertainment issued a press release announcing that Kevin Sullivan would write, produce, and direct Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning, a prequel to its 1985 miniseries. Later posts shared additional information as it was released, beginning with a three-month, nationwide casting call for a new actor to play Anne prior to her arrival at Green Gables. As Elizabeth Withey noted in an Edmonton Journal article entitled “Green Gables Creators Search for Anne” and published on July 25,

Filmmaker Kevin Sullivan wrote [an] original story about Anne Shirley’s childhood life before she went to live with the Cuthberts on Prince Edward Island. Sullivan’s story predates the events in Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery’s novel.

Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning will tell the story of Anne’s biological family and how she ended up in an orphanage.

The mystery will unfold when Anne finds a secret letter in the floorboards at Green Gables more than 50 years after she went to live there.

The film is set at the turn of the 20th century but is bookended by scenes of Anne as a woman in her sixties. In the story, her husband Gilbert died at the end of World War Two and her three children are far away, pre-occupied with families of their own. Anne has almost completely lost touch with her adopted son, Dominic, who is living in France.

Sullivan Entertainment will travel to seven Canadian cities to conduct auditions for girl between the ages of 10 to 12.

They are also conducting an extensive casting call on YouTube at

On 16 October, an article on the CTV website announced that not only would A New Beginning, a three-hour movie, air on that network in 2008, but also, it had acquired Sullivan Entertainment’s “entire Anne catalogue.”

“To say that we are excited about bringing the Anne of Green Gables franchise to CTV would be an understatement! . . . Ivan Fecan and I created the ‘Avonlea/Family Hour’ franchise on CBC in the early 90s and together we made it into one of Canada’s most successful weekly television events.” —Kevin Sullivan, president of Sullivan Entertainment

“Anne of Green Gables is an enduring and endearing worldwide franchise. . . . We welcome Anne with great respect and look forward to the world premiere of ‘A New Beginning’ on CTV.” —Susanne Boyce, President, Creative, Content and Channels, CTV Inc.

On 23 October, Jason shared a Toronto Star article that announced that Shirley MacLaine had joined the cast of A New Beginning as matriarch Amelia Thomas, “a wealthy, powerful and unlikable widow who runs the prosperous lumber town [of] Marysville, N.B.” and whose “miserable temperament is transformed for the better by imaginative and playful Anne Shirley.”

As part of its acquisition of the entire Sullivan/Montgomery back catalogue, CTV rebroadcast An Avonlea Christmas, which first aired in 1998 as Happy Christmas Miss King, on Sunday, December 16. This two-hour telefilm depicts the events of the King family two-and-a-half years after the final episode of Road to Avonlea.

On April 6, I shared Matthew Murray’s recent review, on the website Talkin’ Broadway, of a new stage adaptation of Anne of Green Gables, adapted by Gretchen Cryer (book and lyrics) and Nancy Ford (music).

On 31 July, CBC News reported that the musical production Anne and Gilbert had “gone green”—in other words, that producer Campbell Webster had “purchased just over $300 in carbon credits to help offset fuel and other energy usage during staging of the theatre production, and ease the effects on the environment.”

On 12 August, I noted the recent publication of a one-page article in the August issue of Famous, a magazine that circulated at giant movie theatres across Canada, that profiled Martha MacIsaac, who, almost a decade after playing the leading role in the television series Emily of New Moon (1998–1999, 2002–2003), would appear in the film Superbad, which opened later that month.

On 13 August, CBC News published an article announcing the recent death of Elaine Campbell, co-creator of Anne of Green Gables: The Musical.

Around the Web

On 17 March, Jason posted on his Flickr account “some photos I took while Yuka and I went on an L.M. Montgomery walking tour of Swansea” in Toronto. He added, “Shirley Lum, our guide, did a wonderful job of contextualizing what LMM said about the area with local history.”

On 6 April, Jason posted news about the Six String Nation, “a movement to connect people from all regions of Canada through music and by sharing our icons, images and stories,” specifically its “Six String Nation guitar,” “made of more than 60 pieces that are significant aspects of history or culture from across the country.” A media kit circulated by the organization includes the following information about PEI:

Cavendish Wood from Lucy Maud Montgomery’s family house & post office. Many “Green Gables” pilgrims to PEI confuse the author, Lucy Maud Montgomery, with her fictional “Anne.” Lucy Maud was born on the same day as Winston Churchill and raised by her maternal grandparents, Alexander Marquis Macneill and Lucy Woolner Macneill in Cavendish. They were postmasters of the town. Maud as she was known worked in the office—often intercepting her own publishers rejection notices of her early pre-Anne of Green Gables stories before the town got wind. This is a piece of wood from that house/post office.

“Of course,” Jason added, quoting Montgomery’s journal entry dated 23 April 1920, “Yuka wonders where the wood came from, since the house was taken down around 1920.”

On 13 July, a CBC News article announced the recent reopening of Rainbow Valley amusement park in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island.

On 5 August, the L.M. Montgomery Land Trust announced its upcoming fundraising event called The Great Big Cornboil, “to be held Sunday, August 19th from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Cavendish Boardwalk in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island. There will be live entertainment, and plenty of corn on the boil. All are welcome and encouraged to attend.”

On 29 August, a website called The Daily Bastardette published a blog entry entitled “Ban Anne of Green Gables: Harmful to Adoptees!”

Looking Ahead: Anne of Green Gables Centenary

This year was also significant in terms of the many projects and initiatives being planned for the centenary of Anne of Green Gables in 2008, in print and on screen, within academia and for the general public.

To that end, on August 6, I posted a call for papers for “Anne of Green Gables: New Directions at 100,” organized by Irene Gammel and me as a session of the 2008 conference of the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English. This panel would become the starting point for our 2010 collection of essays, Anne’s World: A New Century of Anne of Green Gables:

This member-organized session of the 2008 ACCUTE conference at the University of British Columbia welcomes proposals for papers that will coincide with the centennial anniversary of the publication of an important Canadian literary classic, Anne of Green Gables (1908), and with a national exhibition Looking for Anne: Tracing Visual Culture and L.M. Montgomery’s Creative Imagination.

The organizers are interested in proposals related to any aspect of Montgomery’s text, its cultural production, its reception history, and its cultural inspirations. Innovative approaches including interdisciplinary perspectives that make us see Anne and the world of Avonlea in new ways are particularly encouraged.