A Selected Overview of Montgomery Biography
Mary Beth Cavert (c) 2008
LMMLS reading recommendations: Overview - The Lucy Maud Montgomery
Album; Bios - The Gift of Wings, The Wheel of Things; About Her books - Magic Island, The
Fragrance of Sweetgrass; Other - The Selected Journals of LM Montgomery, Montgomery's letters (see bibliography
The "evolution" of the L.M. Montgomery biography begins with
her own autobiography, or more correctly called, "The Story of My Career," printed in Everywoman's World
(June - November), in 1917. Later published as The Alpine Path, it concludes when Montgomery returns to Canada
from her honeymoon (1911).
Hilda Ridley drew
extensively from the six installments of "The Story of My Career" for the basis of her biography published in 1956, The
Story of L.M. Montgomery. She read the magazine series in the scrapbooks of Ella (Mrs. George) Campbell and her
son, James, of Park Corner, PEI. She collected pieces of information about LMM from the Campbells, Montgomery's son,
Chester, her friend Fannie Wise Mutch, a nurse, neighbors and friends in Ontario.
In 1960, letters of Montgomery were published, providing the first
look into the author's life up to 1909, through her correspondence with Ephraim Weber.
Dr. Elizabeth Waterston chose to write a chapter about Montgomery's life and career for The Clear Spirit: Twenty Canadian Women and Their
Times in 1966. This book was published for the Centennial of the Canadian Federation and the chapter authors were instructed
to use original research to write about a person who had a "significance in the development of Canadian society." Waterston
read the Weber letters and his essays about Montgomery for the Dalhousie Review, as well as Ridley's book. She
also interviewed Montgomery's son, Dr. Stuart Macdonald, who told her about his mother's journals which he intended to edit
when he retired.
The centennial of Montgomery's birth was in 1974, and Doris Anderson,
editor of Chatelaine Magazine, asked associate editor, Mollie Gillen, to write an article about Montgomery
in 1973. Gillen used the Weber letters and interviews with Montgomery's cousins to write Maud Montgomery: The Girl Who
Wrote Green Gables.
The centennial brought a new source to light in Dr. Francis Bolger's, The Years Before “Anne," published in 1974. Dr. Bolger is an honored Island historian and teacher -- he had acquired early Montgomery
letters written when she was 15 years old and living in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. He wrote a short biography using these
early letters to Penzie MacNeill, Murray Macneill, and Ephraim Weber, and her personal scrapbooks, as well as other archival
records for resources. He also cited Gillen's article and Waterston's chapter.
Mollie Gillen had acquired so much extra material for her
Chatelaine article that she expanded her research into a book, eventually tracking down the letters Montgomery wrote
to George Boyd MacMillan in Scotland before they were destroyed by MacMillan's nephew. The Wheel of Things:
A Biography of Lucy Maud Montgomery was published by Fitzhenry and Whiteside in 1975 and was the first book length
biography to use all the original unpublished Montgomery letters, as well as interviews with relatives, to pull back the curtain
a little farther on the private life of the author. Fitzhenry and Whiteside also published The Alpine Path in book
form for the first time in 1975.
Gillen had other writing commitments and could not return to Montgomery
work after 1975. Dr. Bolger and Dr. Elizabeth Epperly edited the MacMillan letters -- My Dear Mr. M.: Letters to G.B.
MacMillan from L.M. Montgomery, Author of Anne of Green Gables was published in 1980.
When scholar Mary Rubio was mulling over dissertation topics,
she was influenced by Gillen's biography and Waterston's mention of Montgomery's journals to consider Montgomery. However,
Dr. Stuart Macdonald was not ready to allow access to the journals. Nonetheless, Rubio and Dr. Macdonald became friends
and eventually, near the end of his life, the papers were sold to the University of Guelph archives for Rubio to edit
and develop. The five volumes of The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery were published from 1985 to 2004. Rubio
and Waterston used these as the basis for a short biography of Montgomery in 1995 called Writing a Life.
The release of Montgomery's diaries provided ample material
for several small "biographies" summarized primarily from the journals. More Montgomery material was made public in 2006 when
the rest of the Weber letters were published, After Green Gables: L.M. Montgomery’s Letters to Ephraim Weber, 1916-1941.
In the fall of 2008, during the Anne of Green Gables centennial
year, Dr. Mary Rubio's extensive biography, The Gift of Wings, was published. Rubio spent 25 years interviewing
people and ingesting every piece of available Montgomery information and scholarship -- readers can see
the scope of it in her acknowledgments and select bibliography.
In November of 2008, Mollie Gillen celebrated her 100th
birthday (she received cards from Queen Elizabeth and the mayor of Toronto) with relatives, her publisher, and friends
sending best wishes from the Montgomery fans around the world.
The Alpine Path: The Story of My Career. Everywoman’s
World, 1917. Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 1975.
Ridley, Hilda M. The Story of L.M. Montgomery. Toronto: Ryerson,
1956. London: George G. Harrap, 1956.
The Green Gables Letters from L.M. Montgomery to Ephraim
Weber, 1905-1909. Edited by Wilfrid Eggleston. Toronto: The Ryerson Press, 1960.
Waterston, Elizabeth. “Lucy Maud Montgomery 1874-1942.”
In The Clear Spirit: Twenty Canadian Women and Their Times, edited by Mary Quayle Innis, 198-219. Toronto: University
of Toronto Press, 1966.
Gillen, Mollie. “Maud Montgomery: The Girl Who Wrote Green Gables.”
Chatelaine, July 1973, 40-42,52-56.
Bolger, Francis W.P. The Years Before “Anne." 1974.
Halifax: Nimbus Publishing, 1991.
Gillen, Mollie. The Wheel of Things: A Biography of Lucy Maud
Montgomery. Don Mills, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 1975.
Gillen, Mollie. Lucy Maud Montgomery. Don Mills, ON: Fitzhenry
& Whiteside, 1978.
My Dear Mr. M.: Letters to G.B. MacMillan from L.M. Montgomery,
Author of Anne of Green Gables. Edited by Francis W.P. Bolger and Elizabeth R. Epperly. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson,
The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery, Volume I - V. Edited by Mary Rubio and Elizabeth Waterston. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1985 - 2004.
Rubio, Mary, and Elizabeth Waterston. Writing a Life. Canadian
Biography Series. Toronto: ECW Press, 1995.
McCabe, Kevin, comp. The Lucy Maud Montgomery Album. Edited by Alexandra Heilbron. Toronto: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 1999.
"The Rescue of the Montgomery-MacMillan Letters" (The Lucy Maud
Montgomery Album, compiled by Kevin McCabe, edited by Alexandra Heilbron, Toronto: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 1999)
After Green Gables: L.M. Montgomery’s Letters to Ephraim
Weber, 1916-1941. Edited by Hildi Froese Tiessen and Paul Gerard Tiessen. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2006.
Rubio, Mary Henley. Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings. Toronto: Doubleday Canada, 2008.
Bend in the Road http://www.lmmontgomery.ca/catalog/16/lmmi_general_store
Picturing a Canadian Life