In preparing my paper proposal for The L.M. Montgomery Institute’s Fourteenth Biennial Conference at the University of Prince Edward Island (25-28 June 2020; see my paper abstract here), I made a timeline of Montgomery as a WWI-era figure. In my Montgomery scholarship, as much as I love the first Anne of Green Gables and the later Emily books, I have chosen to focus on the trilogy of Anne books set in Glen St. Mary (New London, PE): Anne’s House of Dreams (1917), Rainbow Valley (1919), and Rilla of Ingleside (1920). Though there is only a hint of the storm on the horizon, the first world war haunts through these books, and Rilla is a brilliant account of WWI from the perspective of the women left at home. These are courageous books, full of pain and contrast, but also a sense of billowing goodness and light.
I think there is a great opportunity in focussing on a particular point in an author’s career, and you can see my WWI-era Montgomery Timeline here.
It is also a helpful exercise to look at what happens after an author has died with similarly concentrated tools. I talk a lot about archives as I love digging into the papers of my favourite authors. But certain kinds of archives are also great for telling the story of how authors’ books grow and how their work is received. The University of Prince Edward Island has collected a strong archive on Montgomery and studies on her work, and the Marion E. Wade Center compliments original papers and first editions with an academic library on their seven authors (C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Dorothy L. Sayers, Charles Williams, Owen Barfield, G.K. Chesterton, and George MacDonald). I have been growing in my interest in how these authors are read and talked about.
And timelines can be helpful in thinking about how authors are received. I have played with timelines in my relatively simple Montgomery WWI-era timeline and in my more interactive C.S. Lewis Major Talks timeline. UPEI has been doing similar work with L.M. Montgomery, including a “major dates” list and very cool Ryrie-Campbell Periodicals Timeline, logging Montgomery’s Short Stories–though I doubt they have captured all 500 published stories that Montgomery penned!
Now Heidi Hearing, a Student Research Assistant for the L.M. Montgomery Institute at UPEI has created a timeline that captures the history of the Institute and UPEI’s relationship with Montgomery studies. You can read the press release here, or spend some time in the interactive timeline here.
(Note: You can’t click on the picture, but this link here).