The publication of The Watchman and Other Poems in November 1916 marked a number of changes in L.M. Montgomery’s career as a published author. Earlier that year, Montgomery had made the difficult decision to leave her exploitative first publisher, L.C. Page and Company, and move to the firm of McClelland, Goodchild and Stewart (now McClelland and Stewart), which then appointed the Frederick A. Stokes Company as her American publisher. This ad in the Toronto Globe called it “one of the choicest books of the year, 168 pages of beautiful poems of rare quality, delicate, lilting and full of music.”
I know it looks like I’ve been a bit neglectful this week of my promise to post every single day a review of or an ad for one of Montgomery’s books (the focus of Volume 3 of The L.M. Montgomery Reader, available late this December). In truth, I’ve become really busy with the end-of-year crunch, but there’s also a method to my madness, since what I planned to show next was an overall marketing strategy for L.M. Montgomery. In the second half of December 1921, Montgomery’s Canadian publisher, McClelland and Stewart, placed—in the Toronto Globe and the Toronto Daily Star—several different ads for Rilla of Ingleside, always prominently at the top of a page, as a way to promote it as a choice title for the holiday season. What’s especially noteworthy is that while Rilla is now celebrated as one of the only near-contemporaneous Canadian novels about women at the homefront during the First World War, the war is barely mentioned in this campaign.
Each image zooms in when you click on it, and you can also go through all of them as a slide show.
First, the Toronto Daily Star published this ad, complete with reviewers’ quotes, on 12 December:
Second, in the Globe, on 15 December:
An almost identical ad appeared the next day, on 16 December, in the Toronto Daily Star:
Third, in the Globe, on 16 December:
Fourth, in the Globe, on 17 December:
This one, too, appeared in the Toronto Daily Star, three days later:
Fifth, in the Toronto Daily Star, on 19 December, advertising Rilla of Ingleside alongside Marian Keith’s novel Little Miss Melody (Montgomery and Keith would eventually collaborate, along with Mabel Burns McKinley, on the volume of essays Courageous Women, published in 1934):
Sixth, the Globe, on 20 December:
Seventh, a similar ad in the Toronto Daily Star, on 21 December:
Eighth, in the Globe, on 21 December:
Stay tuned next week, when I start posting extracts from reviews that were less than enthusiastic about Montgomery’s writing—starting with the earliest known review of Anne of Green Gables.
When a book is published, a book review is one way to draw the public’s attention; advertising is another. Starting today on L.M. Montgomery Online, we’re going to look at some of the ways in which L.M. Montgomery’s novels were advertised throughout her career, both in daily newspapers and in periodicals that were devoted to sustaining the book industry.
To start, here is an ad for Magic for Marigold that was published in the Toronto Globe (which would merge in the 1930s with The Mail and Empire, thus forming The Globe and Mail). It happened to appear on Montgomery’s fifty-fifth birthday.
Today’s L.M. Montgomery reviews: excerpts from two early reviews of Montgomery’s first novel, the one that established both her popularity and her critical reputation—Anne of Green Gables!
Anne of Green Gables is worth a thousand of the problem stories with which the bookshelves are crowded to-day, and we venture the opinion that this simple story of rural life in Canada will be read and reread when many of the more pretentious stories are all forgotten. There is not a dull page in the whole volume, and the comedy and tragedy are so deftly woven together that it is at times difficult to divide them. The story is told by an author who knows the Island of Prince Edward thoroughly, and who has carefully observed the human tide which flows through that Island, as it does over all places where human beings live. With the pen of an artiste she has painted that tide so that its deep tragedies are just lightly revealed, for she evidently prefers to show us the placid flow, with its steadiness, its sweetness, and witchery, until the reader stands still to watch the play of sunshine and shadow as it is deftly pictured by the hand of the author of Anne of Green Gables. —The Globe (Toronto, ON)
“We have much pleasure in drawing attention to this novel, not only because it is, in our opinion, the most fascinating book of the season, but because its author, Miss Montgomery, is a resident of Prince Edward Island, where the scene of the story is laid, and is evidently a keen student of both nature and human nature. The fact that the volume was published quite recently, and is now in its second large edition, is a sufficient guarantee of its unusual merit; but it is almost impossible for readers to guess even vaguely the treat that awaits them in its perusal.” —George Murray, The Montreal Daily Star
Today, on this day of days, we look back on the prediction made by two unidentified reviewers of how L.M. Montgomery’s novel Rilla of Ingleside would eventually be remembered.
As a record of the war years, as seen from Glen St. Mary, the author has presented a faithful and worthy picture, spiced by realistic conversation and records of sentiment, and often illuminated by poetic touches in describing the charm of life in that island garden.
A hundred years hence, Rilla of Ingleside will be useful to historians for a picture of Canadian home life during the Great War. Every great event of the conflict is traced with its effects on Ingleside, and Walter, the shy, sensitive boy, the poet of the family, takes his leave—but, why spoil the story?
—Manitoba Free Press (Winnipeg)