Conference to Celebrate Life of L.M. Montgomery

September 29, 2008 - News Release

It's been 100 years since Anne Shirley first peeked out of the pages of Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables. An immediate success, the book would become one of the most-read and best-loved stories in the world. A century later, the University of Guelph is hosting a conference that will celebrate Montgomery's life and her influence on Canada and the world.

Running Oct. 23 to 25, “From Canada to the World: the Cultural Influence of Lucy Maud Montgomery” will bring some of this country's foremost Montgomery scholars and biographers to campus. The conference will feature a unique combination of lectures, performances, films, music, tours and exhibitions.

“L.M. Montgomery has enchanted millions of readers around the world, but she also had a tremendous effect on other writers and helped shape Canadian culture,” said Sue Bennett, director of University and community relations and one of the conference organizers.

“The themes Montgomery wrote about so adeptly and vividly were often drawn from her own experiences,” added Bennett. “She led a very complex life, and here at U of G, we've been lucky enough to glimpse some of her experiences through our L.M. Montgomery Collection. So it's very fitting that we are hosting this important event.”

U of G has the largest collection of Montgomery memorabilia in Canada, including her handwritten journals, scrapbooks, handiwork, photo albums, legal and business papers, letters and the Order of the British Empire medal she received in 1935. It also contains original typescripts of some of her works, including Rilla of Ingleside. Montgomery wrote 22 novels during her lifetime and kept extensive journals from the time she was 14.

Guelph has also long been the academic home to two of the most pre-eminent Montgomery experts in the world — retired English professors Mary Rubio and Elizabeth Waterston. In the 1980s, they were asked by Montgomery's son, Dr. Stuart Macdonald, to edit his mother's personal journals. The works were published in five volumes of The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery.

Rubio has also written a biography about Montgomery, The Gift of Wings, which will be in bookstores next month. On Oct. 25, she will read from the biography and talk about the process of writing it.

Waterston will also speak, discussing Rilla of Ingleside as one of the few women's war novels about the First World War. She also has a new book about Montgomery coming out this fall, Magic Island. Each chapter discusses a different Montgomery book, and Waterston draws parallels between Montgomery's internal "island" - her personal life, her professional career - and the characters in her novels.

Other Saturday speakers include chief librarian and CIO Mike Ridley, who will explain the importance of the Montgomery collection to the University. In addition, Helen Salmon, associate chief librarian, and Lorne Bruce, head of archives and special collections, will talk about the collection and launch the L.M. Montgomery research centre website, which includes digitized images of the collection that make it visible and easily accessible.

Saturday will also feature a luncheon based on recipes from Montgomery's personal cookbook. Food writer Liz Driver will discuss the cookbook as an artifact.

That evening, U of G chancellor Pamela Wallin will give a keynote address to conference participants.

Other conference highlights include a film screening and panel discussion at The Bookshelf Oct. 23 at 7 p.m.

A complete schedule and conference registration is available online.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338/, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982/

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1