‘LIKE FIND­ING GOLD NUGGETS’

Af­ter three decades of re­search, 21 short sto­ries by L.M. Mont­gomery have been dis­cov­ered and are now in a new book

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY SALLY COLE

Af­ter three decades of re­search, 21 short sto­ries by L.M. Mont­gomery have been dis­cov­ered and are now in a new book, which is be­ing launched this week

Carolyn Strom Collins is on a quest.

For 30 years she has been re­search­ing the long-lost sto­ries of L.M. Mont­gomery.

“At first, we had no clue where to find them,” says Collins, a peren­nial pre­sen­ter at the L.M. Mont­gomery In­sti­tute Sym­po­sium that is held at UPEI.

But in­stead of dig­ging through dusty stacks at li­braries, thumb­ing through pages and pages mag­a­zines and news­pa­pers, she searched the in­ter­net.

“I was for­tu­nate that sev­eral web­sites have dig­i­tized some of the early pe­ri­od­i­cals so I didn’t have nearly as much dust as I thought, just late nights on the in­ter­net,” says Collins, who is thrilled to be part of a team of re­searchers who sev­eral years ago dis­cov­ered 21 sto­ries penned by Mont­gomery.

“If I were a gold miner, I would com­pare it to find­ing gold nuggets. When you’re on the hunt for some­thing, any time you find a trea­sure, it’s so sat­is­fy­ing and re­ward­ing that the hours and hours you spend not find­ing some­thing disappears in the ex­cite­ment of it,” says the Park Cor­ner sum­mer res­i­dent and one of the driv­ing forces be­hind a new book fea­tur­ing Mont­gomery’s work.

Along with Christy Woster, Collins has se­lected and edited the pieces for “Af­ter Many Years: Twenty-one Long Lost Sto­ries.”

Pub­lished by Nim­bus, the col­lec­tion brings to­gether “rare pieces orig­i­nally pub­lished be­tween 1900 and 1939 that haven’t ap­peared in print since their ini­tial pe­ri­od­i­cals,” states the front fly­leaf.

“The first sto­ries in the book were writ­ten for young chil­dren and teenagers. But, as Mont­gomery de­vel­oped her style, she took on more adult char­ac­ters and themes, like ro­mances. You’ll see th­ese later in the book,” says Collins.

The new sto­ries range from “The Chivers Light”, about a boy aban­don­ing his du­ties as a light­house keeper and fac­ing the con­se­quences, and “Elvie’s Neck­lace”, a tale of lost jew­elry and a hired boy who gets blamed, to “For the Good of An­thony” a ro­mance story and “Our Neigh­bours at the Tansy Patch”, a com­i­cal story about dif­fer­ent types of neigh­bours, both writ­ten for adults.

Collins says she’s ex­cited that most of the sto­ries are set on P.E.I.

“It’s also ex­cit­ing to know that read­ers of L.M. Mont­gomery will have some­thing to read af­ter all th­ese years,” says the au­thor, who is hold­ing a book­sign­ing event at UPEI’s Robert­son Li­brary July 27, 6-7 p.m. (All pro­ceeds will go to the L.M. Mont­gomery In­sti­tute.)

Collins’ quest be­gan in 1986, shortly af­ter L.M. Mont­gomery’s bib­li­og­ra­phy was pub­lished. The au­thor, Rea Wilmshurst, had been look­ing for Mont­gomery’s sto­ries ever since she spot­ted them in scrap­books at Mont­gomery’s birth­place in Clifton, when­ever she vis­ited, and be­gan com­pil­ing a list of sto­ries and po­ems.

Be­fore her death in 1996, Wilmhurst had found the sources for 400 of her sto­ries. But there were 75 more to find.

“It in­trigued some of us who had bought her bib­li­og­ra­phy to ask, ‘Where are those 75 ti­tles?’ What hap­pened to them? So that’s when I started my quest,” says Collins, who found the first one, “The Mir­ror” in 2000. “It’s a su­per­nat­u­ral story.”

Then as other re­searchers found miss­ing sto­ries they sent them to Collins who was work­ing on an­other bib­li­og­ra­phy, build­ing on Wilmhurst’s work.

Soon she had a col­lec­tion of 21 sto­ries.

And there were more to find. “Af­ter this book went to press I dis­cov­ered an­other. It’s called “In the Home of Her Mother”. I’m pretty sure it was set in the Mac­neill Fam­ily Home­stead in Cavendish.”

SALLY COLE/THE GUARDIAN

Co-edi­tor Carolyn Strom Collins holds a copy of “Af­ter Many Years”. Pub­lished by Nim­bus, it con­tains 21 re-dis­cov­ered sto­ries by L.M. Mont­gomery. A book sign­ing is planned for July 27, 6-7 p.m. at UPEI’s Robert­son Li­brary.

UNIVER­SITY OF GUELPH LI­BRARY/MONT­GOMERY COL­LEC­TION/ SUBMITTED PHOTO

This is L.M. Mont­gomery in 1922. At the time, she was 48 years old.

UNIVER­SITY OF GUELPH LI­BRARY/MONT­GOMERY COL­LEC­TION/ SUBMITTED PHOTO

The photo, which was taken in 1911, shows L.M Mont­gomery at age 36.

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