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Anne Scheduling Changes

During the broadcast of the first episode of Anne with an “E” last Sunday evening on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, several commercials announced what had to be a bold move for the broadcaster: while the CBC announced plans to air the first episode of another new show, Canada: The Story of Us, the following week (March 26), Anne would return on Sunday, April 2, with a rebroadcast of the first two-hour episode (“Your Will Shall Decide Your Destiny”) immediately preceding the initial broadcast of the second episode (“I Am No Bird, and No Net Ensnares Me”). This in spite of the fact that the first episode can now be watched on the CBC website (at least within Canada) and can be downloaded for free on iTunes.

Just yesterday morning, I came across the following tweet from the show’s official Twitter account:

Now, according to my PVR machine this morning, here is what’s scheduled to happen next: this Sunday, March 26, CBC will air episode two, “I Am No Bird, and No Net Ensnares Me,” in the series regular time slot of 8:00 p.m. (8:30 in Newfoundland). And then on Sunday, April 2, CBC will rebroadcast, in a four-hour block, the two-hour-long episode one and episode two, followed by the initial broadcast of episode three, “But What Is So Headstrong as Youth?

Check your local listings for updates: who knows how this schedule might change again!

Cover Art for Four More Anne Reissues by Virago Modern Classics

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

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

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

Montgomery, CBC, and Sunday Nights

Cast photo appearing at the world premiere of ANNE in Toronto on 16 March 2017. Photograph by Benjamin Lefebvre.

Tonight the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation will air the first episode of the Northwood Entertainment series Anne with an “E”, written and created by Moira Walley-Beckett. Although this series is not a remake or a reboot of earlier screen versions of Anne of Green Gables but a new adaptation of Montgomery’s book, CBC’s decision to broadcast the series on Sunday evenings acts as a return home, so to speak, connecting this to so many television adaptations of Montgomery’s books that came before it.

After all, Kevin Sullivan’s miniseries Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel, and Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story were all broadcast on the CBC starting on Sunday nights (1 December 1985, 6 December 1987, and 5 March 2000, respectively), each concluding the following night; Sullivan Entertainment’s episodic series Road to Avonlea and the first two seasons of the CINAR/Salter Street Films series Emily of New Moon aired on Sunday nights during the 7–8 p.m. “family hour” time slot for most of the 1990s. In a few cases, two Montgomery television productions were shown on Sunday evenings back to back: Sullivan’s movie Lantern Hill aired on 30 December 1990 immediately after a second-season episode of Road to Avonlea, while its follow-up reunion movie Happy Christmas, Miss King aired on 13 December 1998 immediately after a second-season episode of Emily of New Moon. These productions also re-aired several times on CBC, almost always on Sunday nights.

In a sense, then, Canadian viewers have been watching adaptations of Montgomery’s work on CBC on Sunday nights for over thirty  years. And although Anne consists of a decidedly new take on the source material, I like the sense of continuity that comes with this scheduling decision, particularly for viewers who have fond memories not only of the earlier adaptations themselves but also of the experience of watching them on CBC on Sunday nights. And I look forward to tuning in on Sundays over the next seven weeks in order to discover where this new Anne universe will take us.

Anne in the news:

John Doyle on Anne: “Sublimely Reinvigorated”

The upcoming CBC/Netflix television series Anne with an “E” has received a glowing review in the Globe and Mail by John Doyle, who calls the series “sublimely reinvigorated”:

This version, on the evidence of Sunday’s two-hour opener, is not reverential, nor is it overcontemporized, but it affords Anne Shirley an agency that is formidable. . . . It imagines rather than remembers or reveres previous versions, no matter how beloved they were. This Anne should be approached and appreciated in the same spirit—it’s a sublimely reinvigorated Anne of Green Gables.

Anne and Jane Eyre

My PVR machine has revealed the titles of the first two episodes of Anne with an “E”: “Your Will Shall Decide Your Destiny” and “I Am No Bird, and No Net Ensnares Me.” Both are allusions to Charlotte Brontë’s novel Jane Eyre, which had a profound influence on L.M. Montgomery’s writing.

This highly anticipated series premieres on CBC Television next Sunday, March 19, and on Netflix on Friday, May 12. Several clips have been posted to the Anne web page at CBC.ca, including a scene, released last week on International Women’s Day, depicting the women of the Avonlea sewing circle discussing the term “feminism.”

Anne of Dundas Square

Yesterday after work I came across two ads for the upcoming CBC/Netflix television series Anne with an “E”—the first in Dundas Square and the second at a bus stop in Parkdale.

Anne of Dundas Square, an ad found in Toronto on 6 March 2017.
Anne of Dundas Square, a billboard ad found in Toronto on 6 March 2017.

Bus stop ad seen in Parkdale neighbourhood of Toronto, 6 March 2017.
Bus stop ad seen in Parkdale neighbourhood of Toronto, 6 March 2017.

Anne will premiere in March on CBC in Canada and in May on Netflix internationally.

The Blythes Are Quoted to Join Penguin Modern Classics Series

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

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

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

Cover Art for Three Anne Reissues from Virago Modern Classics

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

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

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

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

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

Trailer for Breakthrough Entertainment’s Anne of Green Gables: The Good Stars

Breakthrough Entertainment released yesterday a trailer for its second Anne movie, entitled L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables: The Good Stars, which will premiere on YTV on 20 February 2017.

According to a press release published yesterday, the third telefilm, L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables: Fire and Dew, will premiere on YTV on 1 July 2017.

CFP: Writers without Borders (NeMLA panel)

Rita Bode has circulated this call for papers for a conference panel called Writers without Borders: US and Canadian Women Authors, proposed for the next NeMLA conference in Baltimore, Maryland, to be held on 23–26 March 2017. Deadline for submissions is 30 September 2016.

In her study of L.M. Montgomery (1874-1942) in the “Extraordinary Canadians” series, Canadian author Jane Urquhart invokes comparisons of L.M. Montgomery’s life and work to that of her near-contemporary American peers, Edith Wharton (1862-1937), Willa Cather (1873-1947), and Mary Wilkins Freeman (1852-1930), among others.

While the transatlantic connection among women writers is receiving increasing critical attention, the literary relationships among American and Canadian women writers offer a relatively recent area for scholarly explorations of the influences and alignments crossing North America.

This panel seeks comparative studies of American and Canadian women writers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that address a range of topics such as the handling of young and/or older female protagonists, representations of nature, depictions of regions, and other relevant subjects. In addition to Montgomery and the authors mentioned above, other possible authors to consider might include Montgomery and other American regionalists, such as Sarah Orne Jewett; Cather and Margaret Laurence; Alcott and her Canadian counterparts.

Please submit 250-300 word abstracts and brief by bio September 30th through the NeMLA submission page: https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/S/16487.

Applicants are not required to be NeMLA members at the time of submission but accepted speakers will have to become members by December 1st, 2016.

For queries, please email Rita Bode at rbode@trentu.ca.

Breakthrough Entertainment’s Anne to Air on PBS Next November

L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green GablesThe Hollywood Reporter announced yesterday that PBS has acquired U.S. broadcasting rights to Breakthrough Entertainment’s recent telefilm L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, featuring Ella Ballentine in the title role, with plans to broadcast the movie on Thanksgiving Day, 24 November 2016.

UPDATE: Breakthrough Entertainment also announced on Twitter over the weekend that the movie is set for theatrical release in Australia and New Zealand!

Latest Scholarship on L.M. Montgomery

A number of new contributions to the field of L.M. Montgomery Studies have appeared over the last few months, in addition to Rita Bode and Lesley D. Clement’s collection of essays L.M. Montgomery’s Rainbow Valleys: The Ontario Years, 1911–1942, and I wanted to take a moment to highlight them.

The Oxford Handbook of Canadian LiteratureThe Oxford Handbook of Canadian Literature, edited by Cynthia Sugars, has just been published by Oxford University Press. Montgomery is mentioned in detail in book chapters on a variety of topics—including disability, women’s writing, children’s literature, gay and lesbian writing, auto/biography, Atlantic Canadian literature, the short story, and post-Confederation nationalism—by Tracy Ware, Carole Gerson, Alexander MacLeod, Tony Tremblay, Julie Rak, Deirdre Baker, Cecily Devereux, Terry Goldie and Lee Frew, and Sally Chivers.

In December 2015, the online journal The Looking Glass: New Perspectives on Children’s Literature published a special issue on L.M. Montgomery. It includes paratexts by Caroline Jones and Carolyn Strom Collins as well as articles by Yoshiko Akamatsu, Vappu Kannas, Lauren Makrancy, Laura Leden, and Shea Keats.

In addition, several more journal articles have appeared elsewhere in the last few months, by Sarah Galletly (in British Journal of Canadian Studies), Carol L. Beran (in American Review of Canadian Studies), Gabrielle Owen (in Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures), and Kelly Blewett (in The Lion and the Unicorn).

Also in December 2015, Vappu Kannas successfully defended her Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Helsinki in Finland. Entitled “‘The Forlorn Heroine of a Terribly Sad Life Story’: Romance in the Journals of L.M. Montgomery,” the dissertation is available for download. Congratulations, Dr. Kannas!

And just yesterday, the L.M. Montgomery Literary Society published the 2015 issue of its newsletter, The Shining Scroll. This issue is filled with fascinating articles and news by Mary Beth Cavert, Carolyn Strom Collins, Christy Woster, Gwen Layton, and Linda Boutilier.

Happy reading!

L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables in the News

L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green GablesBreakthrough Entertainment’s new telefilm L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, which airs tonight on YTV, has received a tremendous amount of coverage in the press. Here are a few highlights:

Have I missed anything? Let me know!

Plans to broadcast the movie outside Canada or to release it on DVD have not yet been announced.

UPDATE: “Young Actress ‘Excited’ to Play Anne of Green Gables in New TV Movie” (CBC News)

Montgomery Reader Wins 2016 PROSE Award for Literature

I’m enormously pleased to announce that my three-volume critical anthology The L.M. Montgomery Reader (University of Toronto Press) has won the 2016 PROSE Award for Literature, an award presented by the Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers.

https://twitter.com/PROSEAwards/status/697138255402295298

New Trailer and YTV Broadcast Time for L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables

A press release circulated on CNW: A PR Newswire Company confirms that the world premiere of Breakthrough Entertainment’s telefilm L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables will be on YTV on Monday, 15 February 2016 from 6:00 to 8:00 PM EST. Also published today is a slightly extended trailer for the telefilm, which stars Ella Ballentine as Anne, Sara Botsford as Marilla, and Martin Sheen as Matthew.

Video: L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables premiering Monday, February 15 at 6 p.m. ET/PT on YTV.

Breakthrough’s Anne to Air on 15 February 2016

Poster for L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables, produced by Breakthrough Entertainment
Poster for L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, produced by Breakthrough Entertainment

An article in the Charlottetown Guardian announced today that Breakthrough Entertainment’s telefilm L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables will premiere on the YTV network in Canada on 15 February 2015, to coincide with Islander Day in Prince Edward Island. No news yet on broadcast details outside Canada or plans for a DVD release.

This news coincides with the announcement that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has ordered an eight-episode series based on Anne of Green Gables from writer/producer Moira Walley-Beckett—an announcement that has prompted a wide range of responses from commentators. Also published today is an interview with Miranda de Pencier, who is one of Walley-Beckett’s collaborators on the project and who played Josie Pye in three Anne of Green Gables television miniseries from Sullivan Entertainment: in her view, given how highly popular remakes are in Britain, there is definitely room for an ongoing Anne of Green Gables series alongside existing adaptations of the book for stage and screen: “They can all exist alongside one another.”

To see the trailer for Breakthrough’s highly anticipated telefilm, visit the website for Breakthrough Entertainment.

Responses to New Anne Television Series

Anne of Green Gables Meets Breaking Bad?
Anne of Green Gables Meets Breaking Bad? Source: Unknown.

As I reported yesterday, news broke this week that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation had ordered an eight-episode limited series based on L.M. Montgomery’s novel Anne of Green Gables from producer Moira Walley-Beckett, whose past writing credits include the television series Breaking Bad. The news received rather mixed comments, judging by the comments left on various news sites and even on the Facebook page for L.M. Montgomery Online: for some commentators, Sullivan Entertainment’s 1985 miniseries is of such high quality that any attempt to remake it is pointless (for several fans, no one but Megan Follows can ever play Anne), whereas others voiced concern about the decision to hire Walley-Beckett to helm the project, given not only her past writing credits but also the statement that the series would “chart new territory” by depicting “new adventures reflecting timeless issues, including themes of identity, sexism, bullying, prejudice, and trusting one’s self.”

In the midst of this mixed reaction, several additional articles were released in the last few days, emphasizing why a new take on L.M. Montgomery’s 108-year-old novel is not only understandable but absolutely necessary:

As for me, I’m thrilled that a talented writer/producer wants to interpret Montgomery’s best-known novel and ever-appealing protagonist for the twenty-first century, just as I am always fascinated by adaptations of Anne of Green Gables and its sequels for stage and screen, from a 1934 Hollywood “talkie” and Kevin Sullivan’s work to the recent hit play Anne and Gilbert and Breakthrough Entertainment’s upcoming telefilm. Given how meaningful the character Anne Shirley is to so many readers worldwide, surely there is room for a new take on this ever-popular character.

New Anne Television Series Greenlit by CBC

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation announced yesterday that it had greenlit a new, eight-episode television series based on Anne of Green Gables. Entitled Anne, the project is expected to go into production this spring for release sometime in 2017. The project will be created and written by Moira Walley-Beckett, who received an Emmy Award for her work as a writer on the television series Breaking Bad and who will serve as executive producer alongside Miranda de Pencier, Alison Owen, and Debra Hayward.

At its heart, ANNE is a coming-of-age story about an outsider who, against all odds and numerous challenges, fights for acceptance, for her place in the world and for love. The drama series centres on a young orphaned girl who, after an abusive childhood spent in orphanages and the homes of strangers, is mistakenly sent to live with an elderly spinster and her aging brother. Over time, 13-year-old Anne will transform their lives and eventually the small town in which they live, with her unique spirit, fierce intellect and brilliant imagination. While the new series will follow a similar storyline to the book that millions of readers around the world know and love, it will also chart new territory. Anne and the rest of the characters in and around Green Gables will experience new adventures reflecting timeless issues, including themes of identity, sexism, bullying, prejudice, and trusting one’s self.

This story has been reported widely, in venues including The Hollywood Reporter, The Toronto StarVariety, Entertainment Weekly, Entertainment Tonight Canada, The Guardian, the National PostQuill and Quire, and Jezebel. The satiric website The Beaverton has also commented on this development, in a news story entitled “CBC Courts Younger Viewers with Another Reboot of 100 Year Old Novel”:

“Kids these days are done with stories where things happen,” said CBC consultant and world’s oldest child psychologist Obadiah Sugarman. “We’ll finally be giving them the stiff Victorian morality that I assume is in vogue. Not to mention, doing a period piece is a great way to make sure white people are adequately represented on television.”

“I can’t wait for yet more Anne,” enthused 22 year-old Alexandra Lewis, who has only been alive for 7 of Anne’s over two dozen adaptations. “Honestly there’s no better use of public funds than promoting the work of a long-dead, already immensely popular author.”

Jokes aside, what few if any of these reports has mentioned is that a new telefilm version of Anne of Green Gables by Toronto company Breakthrough Productions is already in post-production and is expected to air on YTV in the months to come, or that a film version of Anne of Green Gables: The Musical was announced as in development in September 2013. And what none of the sites reporting on this story has noted, as far as I know, is that producer Miranda de Pencier portrayed Josie Pye in three Anne of Green Gables miniseries by Sullivan Entertainment.

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

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

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

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

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

These volumes have received tremendous praise from reviewers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

30 November 1874

L.M. Montgomery in her early forties, 1917
L.M. Montgomery in her early forties, 1917

Today, on what would have been L.M. Montgomery’s 141st birthday (she was born on 30 November 1874), I would like to share with you an extract from a journal entry dated exactly 101 years ago, on the occasion of Montgomery’s fortieth birthday:

Once I thought forty must be the end of everything. But it isn’t! I don’t feel any older today than yesterday—when I was only 39! Or the day before yesterday when I was—19! Thank God we don’t feel old. Life is much richer, fuller, happier, more comfortable for me now than it was when I was twenty. I have won the success I resolved to win twenty years ago. It is worth the struggle—but I would not wish to be twenty again with the struggle still before me.

Montgomery is trending on the Internet as I write this, due in large part to several Google Doodles paying tribute to Anne of Green Gables. And as Melanie J. Fishbane has pointed out in a blog post published earlier this afternoon, 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 was also published today, on the website Heavy, and mentions her rediscovered final book, The Blythes Are Quoted.

I’m glad, because all this media attention reflects the continued relevance and the persistent quality of Montgomery’s writing, not only as works of literature but also as the basis for an enduring popular culture icon and a set of new Anne texts for stage and screen. I’m looking forward to delving back into the novel Anne of Green Gables next term, when I  teach the book in an undergraduate children’s literature course at Wilfrid Laurier University, as an example of a crossover text that continues to appeal to both adults and children.