MRS. Lucy Maud
Montgomery Macdonald was born at Clifton, Prince Edward Island, whence,
in her early infancy, the family moved to Cavendish. After attending the
district school there until she was sixteen years of age, she spent a
year each at Prince of Wales College, Charlottetown, and Dalhousie
University, Halifax, Nova Scotia. In 1911 she married and moved to
Leaksdale, Ontario, her present home.
She inherited with her Scotch blood a strain of poetry, and has written
nature verse, particularly of the sea, characterized by play of fancy
rather than by descriptive vividness. There is a deeper poetry of life
in her prose than in her verse. In her short stories and in her novels,
especially in her treatment of child life, by throwing “a certain
coloring of imagination” over the humor and pathos of the incidents of
common life as lived in a picturesque rural environment, she achieves a
rare combination of truth and beauty that may best be described as
Her most important short stories have been published in two volumes.
These are the cameo work or the miniature painting in her house of life.
In them she shows a fine sense for the story values in single tragic or
comic incidents or episodes in common life, and for idyllic settings and
artistic skill in giving her material fictional form.
Her novels come under the classification “community novel.” She is
distinctive among the authors of this type of Canadian fiction in that
she usually links her novels in series by continuing the story of
important characters. Kilmeny of the Orchard, an idylic love story, is
complete in itself, but The Story Girl and The Golden Road, are linked,
the series connected by the character Anne contains six books, and there
are two Emily books. Each series pictures realistically the life of
young people, and yet there is freshness and originality of treatment in
The Anne series is a comedie humaine unparalleled in Canadian fiction.
The first book of the series, Anne of Green Gables, is widely known as a
fascinating story of the childhood and young girlhood of a remarkably
sensitive and highly original character. In it, as the title indicates,
the central interest is the influence of Anne upon the home into which
she is adopted. Anne of Avonlea shows her sphere of influence widened to
include the whole community in a special way, for she is now the teacher
of the public school. Anne of the Island shows the heroine reflecting
glory on her native province by her distinctive work in college. The
last three of the Anne books give
us glimpses of Anne’s life as a woman. In Anne’s House of Dreams she is
the young wife of her former schoolmate, now Dr. Gilbert Blythe. In
Rainbow Valley the interest shifts to Anne’s children. She has six of
them, and they make things as interesting as we should expect the
children of such a mother to do. Moreover, they are ably supported by
the four children of the manse. In Rilla of Ingleside, Anne’s daughter
Rilla is the central figure. The mother’s personality, nevertheless,
exerts an important influence throughout the series. To write such a
series is a work of eminent literary distinction.
The Emily series shows an improvement on the Anne series in some
respects. Anne’s characteristics were not accounted for. Emily’s are.
She inherits from her father the Starr emotional temperament and sense
of beauty; from her mother the Murray strength of will and gift of
second sight. In Emily of New Moon, the dramatic moments in Emily’s life
are the logical result of her inherited tendencies and the environment
in which she is placed. Characterization and plot are an organic unity.
The interest aroused in Emily’s literary ambitions is continued in Emily
Climbs, to the end of her high-school period. Rejection slips make her
realize the necessity of continuous practice in writing. A necessary
promise to write no fiction for three years corrects her highly
imaginative style by confining her to the writing of prose facts, and
near the end of the book she is well on the way to literary fame. The
characters, both juvenile and adult, are as vividly drawn in this as in
the preceding volume, and fit as logically into the situations which
constitute the plot.
Skill in logical characterization, as revealed in the Emily books, was a
necessary prerequisite for successful fiction dealing primarily with
adult characters. This our author first attempted in The Blue Castle,
the story of a repressed, inhibited, introverted woman who, on being
told by mistake at the age of twenty-nine that she will die of heart
disease within a year, becomes emancipated and extroverted to the extent
of marrying a Muskoka mystery man, author of nature books and son of a
patent-remedy millionaire. Though the romantic plot makes the novel less
poetically realistic than its predecessors, the characterization
fulfills the promise of the Emily books, and the idyllic handling of the
setting does justice to the Muskoka country and to the author.
Check-List of First Editions
Anne of Green Gables. Boston,
Anne of Avonlea. Boston, 1909.
Kilmeny of the Orchard. Boston, 1910.
The Story Girl. Boston, 1911.
Chronicles of Avonlea. Boston, 1912.
The Golden Road. Boston, 1913.
Anne of the Island. Boston, 1915.
The Watchman and Other Poems. Toronto, 1916, New York, 1917.
Anne’s House of Dreams. Toronto, 1917.
Rainbow Valley. New York, 1919.
Further Chronicles of Avonlea. Boston, 1920.
Rilla of Ingleside. London, New York, and Toronto, 1921.
Emily of New Moon. London, New York and Toronto, 1923.
Emily C7imbs. London, New fork, and Toronto, 1925.
The Blue Castle. London, New York and Toronto, 1926.
Emily’s Quest. London, New York and Toronto. 1927.
Editor’s Note.—Since the receipt of this article from Prof. Bhodenizer
there has appeared the new Emily book, Emily’s Quest, which has been
added to the foregoing check-list, and which will be reviewed in the
next issue of Canadian Bookman. It takes up the thread of Emily’s story
where Emily Climbs ended, and tells the love story that
The attention of readers is directed also to the further reference to
Mrs. Montgomery as appearing on page 251 of this issue.
Prof. Bhodenizer, who wrote this article, is familiar to our readers by
reason of previous contributions. He is a member of the faculty of
Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia.
article about L. M. Montgomery in this issue, it is interesting to
record on the basis of a message from Cavendish, P.E.I., that she was
obliged to shorten her annual vacation at her old home by the sea in the
Island Province, in order to bring about the realization of the wish
expressed by Premier Baldwin, of England, to meet the author of books
“which have given me so much pleasure.’’ He had expressed a desire to
see the “green gables country,’’ but regretted that his Canadian
itinerary prevented his doing so. The sequel came when Mrs. Macdonald
(L. M. Montgomery), was a guest awaiting entrance to the garden party
given by the Lieut.-Gov. of Ontario to the Royal visitors and their
party, a messenger came to her from Premier Baldwin informing her that
he was looking for her arrival and would see her at once. Waiving
ceremony, there followed a memorable half hour’s chat with Mr. and Mrs.
Baldwin, in itself a significant tribute at any time but the more
notable under the exacting circumstances, and one to stir the pride of
the least self-conscious.