L M Montgomery Biography & Facts
Lucy Maud Montgomery (November 30, 1874 – April 24, 1942), published as L. M. Montgomery, was a Canadian author best known for a collection of novels, essays, short stories, and poetry beginning in 1908 with Anne of Green Gables. She published 20 novels as well as 530 short stories, 500 poems, and 30 essays. Anne of Green Gables was an immediate success; the title character, orphan Anne Shirley, made Montgomery famous in her lifetime and gave her an international following. Most of the novels were set in Prince Edward Island, and those locations within Canada's smallest province became a literary landmark and popular tourist site – namely Green Gables farm, the genesis of Prince Edward Island National Park. She was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1935.
Montgomery's work, diaries, and letters have been read and studied by scholars and readers worldwide. The L. M. Montgomery Institute, University of Prince Edward Island, is responsible for the scholarly inquiry into the life, works, culture, and influence of L. M. Montgomery.
Lucy Maud Montgomery was born in Clifton (now New London) in Prince Edward Island on November 30, 1874. Her mother, Clara Woolner Macneill Montgomery (1853-1876), died of tuberculosis (TB) when Maud was 21 months old. Stricken with grief, her father, Hugh John Montgomery (1841-1900), placed Maud in her maternal grandparents' custody, though he remained in the vicinity. When Maud was seven, her father moved to Prince Albert, North-West Territories (now Prince Albert, Saskatchewan). From then on Maud was raised by her grandparents, Alexander Marquis Macneill and Lucy Woolner Macneill, in the community of Cavendish, Prince Edward Island.
Montgomery's early life in Cavendish was very lonely. Despite having relatives nearby, much of her childhood was spent alone. She created imaginary friends and worlds to cope with her loneliness, and Montgomery credited this time of her life with developing her creativity. Her imaginary friends were named Katie Maurice and Lucy Gray, and lived in the "fairy room" behind the bookcase in the drawing-room. During a church service, Montgomery asked her aunt where her dead mother was, leading her to point upwards. Montgomery saw a trap door in the church's ceiling, which led her to wonder why the minister did not just get a ladder to retrieve her mother from the church's ceiling.In 1887, at age 13, Montgomery wrote in her diary that she had "early dreams of future fame." She submitted a poem for publication, writing, "I saw myself the wonder of my schoolmates— a little local celebrity." Upon rejection, Montgomery wrote, "Tears of disappointment would come in spite of myself, as I crept away to hide the poor crumpled manuscript in the depths of my trunk." She later wrote, "down, deep down under all the discouragement and rebuff, I knew I would 'arrive' some day."After completing her education in Cavendish, Montgomery spent one year (1890) in Prince Albert with her father and her stepmother, Mary Ann McRae (1863-1910), who had married in 1887. While she was in Prince Albert, Montgomery's first work, a poem titled "On Cape LeForce," was published in the Charlottetown paper The Daily Patriot. She was as excited about this as she was about her return to Prince Edward Island in 1891. Before returning to Cavendish, Montgomery had another article published in the newspaper, describing her visit to a First Nations camp on the Great Plains. She often saw Blackfeet and Plains Cree in Prince Albert, writing that she saw many Indians on the Prairies who were much more handsome and attractive than those she had seen in the Maritimes.Montgomery's return to Cavendish was a great relief to her. Her time in Prince Albert was unhappy, for she did not get along with her stepmother. According to Montgomery, her father's marriage was not a happy one.In 1893, Montgomery attended Prince of Wales College in Charlottetown to obtain a teacher's license. She loved Prince Edward Island. During solitary walks through the peaceful island countryside, Montgomery started to experience what she called "the flash"—a moment of tranquility and clarity when she felt emotional ecstasy and was inspired by awareness of a higher spiritual power running through nature. Montgomery's accounts of this "flash" were later given to character Emily Byrd Starr in the "Emily of New Moon" trilogy, and also served as the basis for her descriptions of Anne Shirley's sense of emotional communion with nature. In 1905, Montgomery wrote in her journal, "amid the commonplaces of life, I was very near to a kingdom of ideal beauty. Between it and me hung only a thin veil. I could never quite draw it aside, but sometimes a wind fluttered it and I seemed to catch a glimpse of the enchanting realm beyond—only a glimpse—but those glimpses have always made life worthwhile." A deeply spiritual woman, Montgomery found the moments when she experienced "the flash" some of the most beautiful, moving and intense of her life.Montgomery completed the two-year teaching program in Charlottetown in one year. In 1895 and 1896, she studied literature at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Writing career, romantic interests, and family life
Published books and suitors
Upon leaving Dalhousie, Montgomery worked as a teacher in various Prince Edward Island schools. Though she did not enjoy teaching, it afforded her time to write. Beginning in 1897, her short stories were published in magazines and newspapers. A prolific writer, Montgomery published over 100 stories between 1897 and 1907.
During her teaching years, Montgomery had numerous love interests. As a highly fashionable young woman, she had "slim, good looks" and won the attention of several young men. In 1889, at 14, Montgomery began a relationship with a Cavendish boy, Nate Lockhart. To her, the relationship was merely a humorous and witty friendship. It ended abruptly when Montgomery refused his marriage proposal.The early 1890s brought unwelcome advances from John A. Mustard and Will Pritchard. Mustard, her teacher, quickly became her suitor; he tried to impress her with his knowledge of religious matters. His best topics of conversation were his thoughts on predestination and "other dry points of theology," which held little appeal for Montgomery. During the period when Mustard's interest became more pronounced, Montgomery found a new interest in Pritchard, the brother of her friend Laura Pritchard. This friendship was more amiable, but he too felt more for Montgomery than she did for him. When Pritchard sought to take their friendship further, Montgomery resisted. She refused both marriage proposals; Mustard was too narrow-minded, and she considered Pritchard merely a good chum. She ended the period of flirtation when she moved to Prince Edward Island. She and Pritchard continued to correspond for over six years, until he died of influenza in 1897.
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