All posts by Benjamin Lefebvre

TPL Event on L.M. Montgomery’s Reflections on War

I will be speaking at an event called The  Canadian Home Front: L.M. Montgomery’s Reflections on War at the North York Central Library concourse next Tuesday evening, 27 January 2015. I’ll be talking about the responses Montgomery’s books published or set during the First World War received by reviewers (an aspect of Montgomery’s career that is covered in The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 3: A Legacy in Review) alongside Laura M. Robinson and Melanie J. Fishbane. Here is a poster with all the details. Hope to see you there!

Flyer for The Canadian Home Front: L.M. Montgomery’s Reflections on War

The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 3

The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volumes 1–3

I’m pleased to report that I received my first author’s copy, a few days ago, of my seventh book, The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 3: A Legacy in Review, published by University of Toronto Press. The book contains the full text of 370 reviews, from periodicals in eight countries, of Montgomery’s twenty-four books published throughout her lifetime, as well a comprehensive discussion of how these reviews fit within the larger context of the ways her books were marketed to readers during the first half of the twentieth century, as well as a comprehensive account of the reception of twenty-four additional Montgomery books published posthumously between 1960 and 2013. Since late November, I’ve been posting snippets of these reviews, as well as scans of ads that don’t appear in the book, on the L.M. Montgomery Online website.

I’m so happy with how this final volume, like the two that preceded it, turned out, and although it’s rather bittersweet for such a big project to come to an end finally after several years of work, it also gives me a chance to ponder what it is I’d like to work on next.

The book can be ordered directly from the publisher as either a jacketed hardcover or as an ebook, and it should start to be available through bookstores in the coming weeks.

Updating my web page for that volume also prompted me to update the pages for all my previous books: The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 1: A Life in Print and Volume 2: A Critical Heritage; the collections of essays Textual Transformations in Children’s Literature (which recently came out in paperback) and Anne’s World: A New Century of Anne of Green Gables; the restored and annotated edition of L.M. Montgomery’s Great War novel, Rilla of Ingleside; and the edition of Montgomery’s long-lost final novel, The Blythes Are Quoted.

Second and Third Volumes in Early Canadian Literature Series

I’m pleased to announce the publication of the second and third volumes of the Early Canadian Literature series published by Wilfrid Laurier University Press: an edition of Nellie L. McClung’s 1925 novel Painted Fires, with an afterword by Cecily Devereux, and an edition of George Copway’s 1850 book The Traditional History and Characteristic Sketches of the Ojibway Nation, with an afterword by Shelley Hulan. Both can be purchased either in print or in epub format directly from the publisher or from your favourite bookseller.

Cover art for Early Canadian Literature edition of Painted Fires, by Nellie L. McClungPainted Fires, first published in 1925, narrates the trials and tribulations of Helmi Milander, a Finnish immigrant, during the years approaching the First World War. The novel serves as a vehicle for McClung’s social activism, especially in terms of temperance, woman suffrage, and immigration policies that favour cultural assimilation. In her afterword, Cecily Devereux situates Painted Fires in the context of McClung’s feminist fiction and her interest in contemporary questions of immigration and “naturalization.” She also considers how McClung’s representation of Helmi Milander’s story draws on popular culture narratives.

Cover art for Early Canadian Literature edition of The Traditional History and Characteristic Sketches of the Ojibway Nation, by George CopwayThe Traditional History and Characteristic Sketches of the Ojibway Nation (1850) was one of the first books of Indigenous history written by an Indigenous author. The book blends nature writing and narrative to describe the language, religious beliefs, stories, land, work, and play of the Ojibway people. Shelley Hulan’s afterword considers Copway’s rhetorical strategies in framing a narrative as a form of “history, interrupted” for a non-Indigenous readership.

Back on the Island

Ben and AnneI’m pleased to be back on Prince Edward Island for L.M. Montgomery and War, the 11th biennial conference hosted by the L.M. Montgomery Institute and held at the University of Prince Edward Island (an event that I am co-chairing). I’m also pleased because I have finally launched L.M. Montgomery Online, the new-and-improved version of the L.M. Montgomery Research Group website that I started in 2007! I’ve been travelling to the Island for these conferences since 1996, so in a way it feels a lot like coming home. Especially when there’s always an old friend (albeit a two-dimensional one) there to greet you at the airport!

Profile in the Charlottetown Guardian

Benjamin Lefebvre's L.M. Montgomery Collection

A profile of me by Sally Cole appeared in yesterday’s Charlottetown Guardian, in which I discuss my longstanding interest in L.M. Montgomery’s work generally and the first two volumes of The L.M. Montgomery Reader in particular. It also includes this photograph of me taken in front of part of my Montgomery collection in my home office. (When I look up from my laptop, this is what I see in front of me.)

UPDATE: Apparently the Guardian has also called me “Montgomery guy.” That’s fine, of course, although I personally prefer “Man of Green Gables.”

Launch of The L.M. Montgomery Reader 2

The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 2: A Critical HeritageI was so pleased to receive yesterday my first author’s copy of The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 2: A Critical Heritage, from University of Toronto Press. It should be available for purchase in the days or weeks to come, and it can also be ordered at a discount directly from the publisher.

For those of you who are going to Congress, there will be a launch for the book next Tuesday, 27 May 2014, from 2:00 to 3:00 PM at Brock University’s Congress Centre—Expo Event Space. Hope to see you there!

Announcing The L.M. Montgomery Reader 3

The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 1 The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 2: A Critical Heritage The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 3: A Legacy in Review

I am very pleased to announce the forthcoming publication, in fall 2014, of the third (and final!) volume of The L.M. Montgomery Reader, subtitled A Legacy in Review. It collects for the first time over four hundred reviews of Montgomery’s twenty-four books, originally appearing in periodicals from eight countries. The selections are accompanied by an extensive introduction as well as an epilogue that provides an overview of reviews of twenty-four additional books attributed to L.M. Montgomery after her death.

“Now that it is complete, The L.M. Montgomery Reader is sure to be the authoritative source on Montgomery’s critical and popular reception as a bestselling author. Benjamin Lefebvre has devoted many years to the Reader, and one cannot imagine anyone better suited for the work.”—Janice Fiamengo, Department of English, University of Ottawa

24 April 1942

Source: "Noted Author Dies Suddenly at Home Here," The Globe and Mail (Toronto, ON), 25 April 1942, 5.
Source: “Noted Author Dies Suddenly at Home Here,” The Globe and Mail (Toronto, ON), 25 April 1942, 5.

Seventy-two years ago today, L.M. Montgomery died at her home in Toronto, at the age of sixty-seven. Her death was interpreted by her family and by her physician as a suicide—a belief not revealed to the public until an article appeared in The Globe and Mail in September 2008. But in 1942, the circumstances of her death were omitted from the many obituaries that appeared in newspapers across the country, including one from the Calgary Daily Herald. Instead, these obituaries celebrated her life as well as her work, namely twenty-two book-length works of fiction, from Anne of Green Gables (1908) to Anne of Ingleside (1939), and one volume of poetry, The Watchman and Other Poems (1916). Moreover, the obituary appearing in The Globe and Mail, entitled “Noted Author Dies Suddenly at Home Here,” noted that “for the past two years she had been in ill health, but during the past winter Mrs. Macdonald compiled a collection of magazine stories she had written many years ago, and these were placed in the hands of a publishing firm only yesterday.” That book was The Blythes Are Quoted, and it was published in its entirety only in 2009.

In addition to obituaries and coverage of her burial in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island, a number of tribute pieces appeared in daily newspapers in the days and weeks following Montgomery’s death, including two unsigned editorials appearing on the same day in the Windsor Daily Star:

When L.M. Montgomery (Mrs. Ewan Macdonald) died in Toronto at the age of 67, a literary career that was built upon an appreciation of the simpler things of Canadian life was brought to a close. No cold realist, no pseudo-sophisticate, she wrote of life as she knew and lived it in her girlhood in Prince Edward Island, and the homely truth and honesty of those works brought her international renown. […]

It was not only a flair for plot and facility of expression that made Mrs. Macdonald a great writer. Her understanding of human nature was deep and thorough, and her interest in the loves, joys and sorrows of everyday folk transcended professional curiosity. It was from all these gifts that she wove her stories, and it was from them that her novels drew their wide-ranging appeal.

Source: “L.M. Montgomery,” The Windsor Daily Star (Windsor, ON), 27 April 1942, 4.

Another tribute, appearing two pages earlier, is a reminder of the fact that Montgomery’s death occurred in the midst of the Second World War:

People were beginning to discover the delights of Cavendish and other parts of Prince Edward Island. The war and the consequent curtailment of travel have meant many journeys to the island will have to be postponed. But, after the war has been won, people will be going in ever-increasing numbers of Prince Edward Island, a province which Lucy Maud Montgomery helped to make famous.

Source: “‘Anne of Green Gables,’” The Windsor Daily Star (Windsor, ON), 27 April 1942, 2.

As these and several more tribute pieces demonstrate, L.M. Montgomery’s work touched a chord with many readers during her lifetime, and part of its uniqueness is that her readership has only grown in the seven decades since her death, especially since volumes of journals, letters, and periodical pieces began to appear in the 1970s and 1980s, alongside popular television adaptations of her books. Her work continues to gather an international community of readers and researchers whose interest in all things L.M. Montgomery shows no signs of slowing down.

Montgomery’s Globe and Mail obituary, several tributes, and extensive coverage of her funeral all appear in The L.M. Montgomery Reader, Volume 1: A Life in Print, available now.