|Why Study Montgomery?|
We study the life and works of L.M. Montgomery because she gives us uniquely appealing glimpses of Canadian life. Her characters, landscapes, and scenes reflect rural and urban life in Canada as she saw and lived it, and also as she imagined it. Because Montgomery is so popular internationally, exploring her life and work shows us how Canada is seen by millions. For many people, Montgomery's work is all they know of Canada. How do the values suggested in the works compare with Canadian values today?
L.M. Montgomery (1874-1942) was famous in her own time as the author of Anne of Green Gables (1908) and nineteen other novels. She also published some five hundred short stories and five hundred poems, one separate volume of poetry, and three of the biographical pieces in the book Courageous Women (1934). Anne of Green Gables was an immediate success and sold nineteen thousand copies in the first five months. It went into ten printings in its first year and was translated into Swedish as early as 1909. It has since been translated into more than a dozen languages. She received a congratulatory letter from Mark Twain; Governors General and Prime Ministers read and loved her work.
Montgomery was the first Canadian woman to become a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in Great Britain (in 1923). She was elected to the Literary and Artistic Institute of France in 1935. And also in 1935, King George V made her an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. When the national government was creating a national park in each province, it was decided that Cavendish would be the place on PEI since it had become something of a pilgrimage site for Montgomery's international readers. In 1943 Montgomery was declared a person of national historic significance. On Canada Day 1999, the Dominion Institute and the Council for Canadian Unity held two Internet surveys (one in English and one in French) asking people to nominate their favourite Canadian heroes; Montgomery was voted one of the top twenty heroes of the Twentieth Century.
In the 1920's and 1930's Montgomery read to audiences of thousands. (See Public Readings under Collecting and Creating Images).
In the latter part of the Twentieth Century Montgomery reached even larger audiences internationally than she had in her lifetime since her life and works have been adapted for stage plays, radio dramas, musicals, movies, television miniseries and movies, and into an interactive CD-ROM.
Over a quarter of a million people visit the Green Gables site in Cavendish each year, and many are discovering other historic properties associated with Montgomery's life and work on Prince Edward Island, such as the site of the Macneill homestead in Cavendish, the Lucy Maud Montgomery Birthplace, and the Campbell home (Silver Bush and its Anne of Green Gables Museum in Park Corner, PEI), her Grandfather (Senator) Montgomery's home (the L.M. Montgomery Heritage Musuem, Park Corner), and the recently restored and renovated Bideford Parsonage. In Leaskdale, Ontario, where Montgomery and her husband and two children lived from 1911 to 1926, the manse is being restored as an historic property. In Bala, Muskoka, where Montgomery traveled for a magical, inspirational holiday in 1922, the place where she and her family ate their meals has become a museum in her honor.