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L(ucy) M(aud) Montgomery (1874-1942)

 

Canadian writer, who became famous for her juvenile books, especially Anne of Green Gables (1908) with its six sequels. The main character is a spirited, orphan girl, who finds a home with an elderly brother and sister. Montgomery produced more than 20 novels and other books. Anne of Green Gables was rejected by several publishers. She was 34 when it was finally accepted.

"I'm pretty hungry this morning," she announced, as she slipped into the chair Marilla placed for her. "The world doesn't seem such a howling wilderness as it did last night. I'm so glad it's a sunshiny morning. But I like rainy mornings real well too. All sorts of mornings are interesting, don't you think? You don't know what's going to happen through the day, and there's so much scope for imagination." (from Anne of Green Gables)

Lucy Maud Montgomery was born in Clifton (now New London), Prince Edward Island. When she was two, her mother died of tuberculosis. Her father, who was a merchant, remarried, and moved away. Montgomery was raised by her maternal grandparents in Cavendish. The place was isolated and her childhood was not particularly happy: she grew up in an atmosphere of strict discipline and punishment for the slightest reason. She joined her father briefly in Prince Albert, but then returned to Prince Edward Island. In her journal she later complained, that if she slipped out for a walk, her grandmother would suspect she had been out to "see some fellow."

At an early age Montgomery read widely. She started to write in school and had her first poem published in a local paper at the age of fifteen. In 1895 Montgomery qualified for a teacher's licence at Prince Wales College, Charlottetown. During the 1890s she worked as a teacher in Bideford and at Lower Bedeque, both on Prince Edward Island. While working in the community of Bedeque she had a romance with Herman Leard; he was four years her senior and destined to take over the prosperous family farm. In her diary she wrote that Herman "sent flame through every vein and fibre of my being."

In 1895-96 Montgomery studied literature at Dalhousie University, Halifax. She returned to Cavendish to take care of her grandmother, and worked at a local post office. In 1911 after her grandmother died, Montgomery married Ewan MacDonald, the Presbyterian minister, and moved with him to rural Ontario. While caring for her grandmother, she wrote the first book of the Anne series. It drew on her girlhood experiences. The idea was based on a notebook entry from 1904: "Elderly couple apply to orphan asylum for a boy. By mistake a girl is sent them."

Anne of Green Gables was the story of a talkative, red-haired orphan, Anne Shirley. She has big green-grey eyes and a narrow, freckled face. Matthew Cuthbert and his sister, Marilla, have adopted her from an orphanage in Nova Scotia. The book, which was aimed at a general audience of adults and children, became hugely popular, although The New York Times critic (July 18, 1908) wrote: "...there is no real difference between the girl at the end of the story and the one at the beginning of it. All the other characters in the book are human enough." Mark Twain wrote in 1908 to Montgomery to praise "Anne" as "the dearest and most moving and delightful child since the immortal Alice." The sequels followed Anne's life from childhood to adulthood – she marries Gilbert Blythe, a doctor, loses her first child but her life is then fulfilled with the birth of Little Jem. The initial volume has been filmed several times, adapted for stage and translated into some 40 languages.

Montgomery's success was shadowed by a nine-year dispute with her publisher and her husband's bouts of melancholy. "Looking back over his attacks I find that they have always come on suddenly when he was disappointed or homesick", Montgomery wrote in her diary on April 12, 1921. "Evidently his disappointment and loneliness were repressed into his subconscious mind and began playing tricks with his nerves, as psycho-analysis has recently discovered such things do." In 1925 the family moved to Norval, near Toronto, and then in 1935, after her husband's retirement, to Toronto. Anne of Ingleside (1939), the last volume in the Anne series, reflected Montgomery's disappointments in life. During the late 1930s Montgomery suffered a breakdown, and remained despondent until her death on April 24, in 1942. She left 10 volumes of personal diaries (1889-1942), whose publication began in 1985. The material, which was frank in many ways, was intended for those who would later became her biographers. According to Kate Macdonald Butler, the granddaughter of author, Montgomery actually committed suicide by taking an overdose of drugs.

Montgomery wrote several collections of stories and two books for adults. Her other series characters include Emily, who appeared in three novels, and Pat, who was in two novels. Montgomery's heroines are frequently motherless, but adventurous, imaginative and determined. Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables has a fiery temperament, to do with her red hair. When she marries Gilbert, she abandons her career as a teacher and is often in an irritable mood. "It's all very well to read about sorrows and imagine yourself living through them heroically, but it's not so nice when you really come to have them, is it?" Montgomery wrote.

After becoming tired of Anne, Montgomery created Emily Byrd Starr, who has dark hair and loves nature and loves to write. Anne's imagination leads her into conflict with her surroundings, but Emily uses her imagination to compose poems and stories. In the third part, Emily's Quest (1927), she publishes her first book, is confused by reviews, which are conflicting, and marries Teddy Kent, an artist.

For further reading: Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings by Mary Rubio (2008); Lucy Maud Montgomery Album by Kevin McCabe and Alexandra Heilbron (1999); L. M. Montgomery & Canadian Culture, ed. by Irene Gammel & Elizabeth Epperly (1999); Anne's World, Maud's World: The Sacred Sites of L.M. Montgomery by Nancy Rootland (1998); World Authors 1900-1950, ed. by Martin Seymour-Smith and Andrew C. Kimmens (1996); Writing a Life: L.M. Montgomery by Mary Rubio, Elizabeth Waterston (1995); The Fragrance of Sweet-Grass: L.M. Montgomery's Heroines and the Pursuit of Romance by Elizabeth Rollins Epperly (1992); L.M. Montgomery, ed. by J.R. Sorfleet (1976); The Wheel of Things by M. Gillen (1975); The Years Before Anne by F.W.P. Bolger (1974); The Story of L.M. Montgomery by H.M. Ridley (1956) - Museums: Anne of Green Gables Museum, Box 491, Kensington, Prince Edward Island - House where L.M. Montgomery spent much of her childhood.  Green Gables, Cavendish, Prince Edward Island - Montgomery's neighbour's house, which is 'Green Gables' in her novels.  See: Astrid Lindgren and her unconventional children's book character Pippi Longstockings. See also Louisa Alcott

Selected works:

  • Anne of Green Gables, 1908 (illustrated by M.A. and W.A.J. Claus)
    - Annan nuoruusvuodet (suom. Hilja Vesala, 1930) - Films: 1919, dir, by William Desmond Taylor, starring Mary Miles Minter; 1934, dir. George Nicholls Jr., starring Anne Shirley (Dawm O'Day, who adopted the name of her character); 1940: Anne of Windy Willows, with the same starts and production team; 1956 (TV film). dir. by Donald Harron, starring Toby Tarnow; 1975 (TV mini-series), starring Kim Brade, Barbara Hamilton, Christopher Blake; 1985 (TV film), dir. by Kevin Sullivan, starring Megan Follows; 2009: Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning (TV film), dir. by Kevin Sullivan, starring Hannah Endicott-Douglas, Barbara Hershey, Shirley MacLaine, Rachel Blanchard. - Musical versions, once on Broadway and once in London in 1969
  • Anne of Avonlea, 1909 (with frontispiece and cover in colour by George Gibbs)
    - Anna ystävämme (suom. Hilja Vesala, 1921)
  • Kilmeny of the Orchard, 1910 (with four illustrations in colour from paintings by George Gibbs)
  • The Story Girl, 1911 (with frontispiece and cover in colour by George Gibbs)
    - Sara Stanleyn tarinat (suom. Raimo Meltti, 1994)
  • Chronicles of Avonlea, 1912
  • The Golden Road, 1913
  • Anne of the Island, 1915 (with frontispiece and cover in colour by H. Weston Taylor)
    - Annan unelmavuodet (suom. Toini Kalima, 1921)
  • The Watchman, and Other Poems, 1916
  • Anne's House of Dreams, 1917
    - Anna omassa kodissa (suom. Hilja Walldén, 1922)
  • Rainbow Valley, 1919
    - Sateenkaarinotko (suom. Alli Wiherheimo, 1925)
  • Further Chronicles of Avonlea, which Have to Do with Many Personalities and Events in and about Avonlea, 1920 (illustrated by John Goss)
  • Rilla of Ingleside, 1921
    - Kotikunnan Rilla (suom. Kerttu Piskonen, 1962)
  • Emily of New Moon, 1923
    - Pieni runotyttö (tr. into Finnish by I.K. Inha, 1928)
    - TV series 1998-2002, prod. by CINAR, starring Claire Rankin, Jacqueline Donovan, Lisa Houle
  • Emily Climbs, 1924
    - Runotyttö maineen polulla (suom. I. K. Inha, 1948)
  • The Blue Castle, 1926
    - Sininen linna (suom. A. J. Salonen, 1930)
  • Emily's Quest, 1927
    - Runotyttö etsii tähteä (suom. Laine Järventaus-Aav, 1949)
  • Magic for Marigold, 1929 (with a frontispiece in color by Edna Cooke Shoemaker)
    - Marigoldin lumottu maailma (suom. Sisko Ylimarto, 2009)
  • A Tangled Web, 1931
  • Pat of Silver Bush, 1933
    - Vanhan kartanon Pat (suom. 2009)
  • Courageous Women, 1934 (with Marian Keith [pseud.] and Mabel Burns McKinley)
  • Mistress Pat: A Novel of Silver Bush, 1935
  • Anne of Windy Poplars, 1936
    - Anna opettajana (tr. by Paula Herranen, 2002)
  • Jane of Lantern Hill, 1937 (with a frontispiece in color by Louise Costello)
    - Jane Victoria (osa 1, suom. Raimo Meltti, 1993); Jane Victoria tulee kotiin (osa 2, suom. Raimo Meltti, 1993)
    - Film 1990, dir. by Megan Follows, starring Mairon Bennett, Sam Waterston, Patricia Phillips
  • Anne of Ingleside, 1939
    - Annan perhe (suom. Paula Herranen, 2002)
  • The Green Gable Letters: From L. M. Montgomery to Ephraim Weber, 1905-1909, 1960 (edited by Wilfrid Eggleston)
  • The Road to Yesterday, 1974
    - Tie eiliseen (suom. Marja Helanen-Ahtola, 1976)
  • The Alpine Path: The Story of My Career, 1974
  • The Doctor's Sweetheart, 1979 (selected and with an introd. by Catherine McLay)
    - Tiedän salaisuuden (suom. Marja Helanen-Ahtola, 1981)
  • My Dear Mr. M.: Letters to G. B. MacMillan from L. M. Montgomery, 1980 (edited by Francis W. P. Bolger, Elizabeth R. Epperly)
  • Spirit of Place: Lucy Maud Montgomery and Prince Edward Island, 1982 (selected and edited by Francis W.P. Bolger; photography by Wayne Barrett and Anne MacKay)
  • The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery, 1985-2004 (5 vols., edited by Mary Rubio and Elizabeth Waterston )
  • The Poetry of Lucy Maud Montgomery, 1987 (selected and introduced by John Ferns and Kevin McCabe)
  • Along the Shore: Tales by the Sea, 1989 (edited by Rea Wilmshurst)
  • Days of Dreams and Laughter: The Story Girl and Other Tales, 1990
  • After Many Days: Tales of Time Passed, 1991 (edited by Rea Wilmshurst)
  • Against the Odds: Tales of Achievement, 1993 (edited by Rea Wilmshurst)
  • At the Altar: Matrimonial Tales, 1994 (edited by Rea Wilmshurst)
  • Christmas with Anne: and Other Holiday Stories, 1995 (edited by Rea Wilmshurst)
  • Across the Miles: Tales of Correspondence, 1995 (edited by Rea Wilmshurst)
  • Aunt Maud’s Recipe Book: From the Kitchen of L.M. Montgomery, 1996 (edited by Elaine Crawford and Kelly Crawford)
  • A Writer’s Garden: Inspired Photographs with Selected Writings, 2004 (photographs by Anne MacKay and Wayne Barrett; text selected by Sandra Wagner)
  • After Green Gables: L.M. Montgomery’s Letters to Ephraim Weber, 1916-1941, 2006 (edited by Hildi Froese Tiessen and Paul Gerard Tiessen)
  • Imagining Anne: The Island Scrapbooks of L.M. Montgomery / Elizabeth Rollins Epperly, 2008 (foreword by Adrienne Clarkson)
  • The Blythes Are Quoted, 2009


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