We must admit to an embarrassment of riches when it comes to access to Montgomery’s short stories. Her 500 or so published stories are not in some archive in manuscript form, simply waiting to be published. Montgomery’s work is scattered among dozens of magazines and periodicals over a period of 50 years. Thus, our short-story richness has come with the time and commitment of hard-working Montgomery readers and editors over the past generation.
Of Montgomery’s work in her lifetime, we have Chronicles of Avonlea (1912), followed by the illicit Further Chronicles of Avonlea (1920)–initially published without Montgomery’s permission and the subject of a legal drama. Finally, we now have The Blythes Are Quoted, edited by Benjamin Lefebvre in 2009, which is the complete version of the 1974 Road to Yesterday collection.
Through the late ’80s into the ’90s, Rea Wilmshurst carefully provided us 8 thematic collections that follow a similar editorial design as The Doctor’s Sweetheart and Other Stories (1979), edited by Catherine McLay.
- Akin to Anne: Tales of Other Orphans (1988)
- Along the Shore: Tales by the Sea (1989)
- Among the Shadows: Tales from the Darker Side (1990)
- After Many Days: Tales of Time Passed (1991)
- Against the Odds: Tales of Achievement (1993)
- At the Altar: Matrimonial Tales (1994)
- Across the Miles: Tales of Correspondence (1995)
- Christmas with Anne and Other Holiday Stories (1995)
Hidden behind these lovely volumes are hundreds of hours of detective work, discovery, transcription, editorial revision, administrative tasks, correspondence, and collection–work carried on by Rea Wilmshurst and many invisible hands. In 1986, Ruth Weber Russell, D.W. Russell, and Rea Wilmshurst published Lucy Maud Montgomery: A Preliminary Bibliography–which is hard to find but available in research libraries. Carrying on the attention to detail of Rea Wilmshurst and others, Carolyn Strom Collins has compiled and edited materials for eager readers, both published in 2016 by the L.M. Montgomery Institute:
- An Annotated Bibliography of L.M. Montgomery’s Stories and Poems (which specifically extends Wilmshurst’s 1986 bibliography)
- A Guide to L.M. Montgomery’s Story and Poem Scrapbooks 1890–1940: Stories and Poems Published in Periodicals and Preserved by L.M. Montgomery in Twelve Scrapbooks
With all of this good work of story collecting, editing and anthologizing–including individual pieces published in places like Fr. Bolger’s The Years Before Anne (1974, reprinted in 1991), there are still fewer than 200 stories in print.
It is always a treat, then, when we hear about a new collection. Ben Lefebvre’s LMMIOnline web resource notes that a 9th volume of 17 stories selected by Rea Wilmshurst will appear in May 2022, Around the Hearth: Tales of Home and Family, edited by Joanne Lebold. In their years of commitment, Carolyn Strom Collins and the late Christy Woster have each found dozens of Montgomery stories that might have been lost, or they have succeeded in finding the original publications of those stories later published in anthologies.
In 2017, they also edited and published a new Montgomery story collection, After Many Years: Twenty-one “Long-Lost” Stories. After Many Years is an anthology of rediscovered short stories by L.M. Montgomery–21 pieces originally published in periodicals between 1900 and 1939 that Collins and Woster came across in their research. The volume has a preface and notes by Collins and Woster, as well as a foreword by Kate Macdonald Butler, one of Montgomery’s grandchildern. After Many Years is published by Nimbus and available in paperback, as a Kindle e-book, and in an audiobook reading by Elva Mai Hoover.
As you might expect of Montgomery in this mode, the stories are full of charm and grace. In the warp and weft of something like fate or providence, families shatter, hearts break, and lovely things are lost. But in that same movement of the weaver’s tale, there is space for discovery, healing, and life-after-brokenness. Children are faced with terrible decisions that, in the moment, are so intimate and life-changing that the characters almost lose themselves in the choosing. Lovers have a chance to find their way back to lost loves–or the chance to turn with bitterness toward the future. Neighbours chase and peck and quarrel, but there is every opportunity for neighbourliness to return in the end. Cats inspire adventure and lead the way home. Ghosts shake the root of injustice while fair houses haunt the lonely and mirrors speak more than the truth. More than one good soul dies too young, and more than one old soul lives long enough to laugh at themselves.
Since Montgomery’s copyright has expired on much of her work–though it still continues in the US for another 15 years or so for many pieces–the stories have been collected into chronological bundles and released as inexpensive Kindle books and read on Librivox–at least up to 1922 (check out Librivox’s volunteer-read Montgomery story collections here).
In a note of sadness, After Many Years book is dedicated to the memory of co-editor Christy Woster, who died in April 2016 as the book was moving toward print. One of my favourite collections of Montgomery’s short stories to date, After Many Years is a fitting tribute to the work of these longsuffering literary detectives and Christy Woster’s memory.
Besides the treasures, the bibliographies, and this collection of stories, Carolyn Strom Collins is also the editor of Anne of Green Gables: The Original Manuscript–a never-before-published version of the original text of Montgomery’s most famous manuscript. This recent publication of the Anne of Green Gables manuscript provides readers with a rare chance to peek in on Montgomery’s creative process, allowing us to see the author’s scribbled notes, additions and deletions, and other editorial details and marginalia.
I have read Anne of Green Gables in my old Seal paperback, and I have listened to the story read by professional and amateur audio readers. Each time the book becomes brighter and better for me. However, reading this original manuscript edition resulted in my most fruitful and fun summer reading of Anne yet. With restrained and professional editorial comments, critical notes, and photocopies of Montgomery’s handwriting, Carolyn Strom Collins has done a superb job editing this version, providing us insight into Montgomery’s writing process and allowing us a way to read this classic text anew.
As host and founding producer of the MaudCast, I was privileged to sit down with Carolyn Strom Collins for an interview about her work. In the episode (which you can find here or on Spotify), we discuss Carolyn’s editorial work and we focus in on her work in the archive and her final manuscript publication. I hope you enjoy this resource–as well as the wealth of resources for reading Lucy Maud Montgomery’s short stories.
*if anyone locally needs a copy of Fr. Bolger’s The Years Before Anne, I have an extra that I would part with