Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Happens to the Best of Us

As I mentioned in this post, I'm an L. M. Montgomery nut case. I own something like 32 books that she wrote (among them her mini-biography, The Alpine Path, several short story collections, and a first edition copy of Anne of Windy Poplars. Of course I own a more recent edition as well.

I also have a CD compilation with oodles of photos and other historical stuff about her. Oh, and a book covering her early career before the first Anne book came out, during which time she was noted for her poetry and short stories.

You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who would think that LMM was not successful in her literary career. Her work spawned several adaptations to stage and film (including at least two films in her lifetime, one during the silent era). Her books have been translated into dozens of languages. After her husband's forced retirement, she was the sole bread-winner for the family. More than sixty years after her death, readers around the world still clamor after her stories.

So it was with a good laugh that I came across a particular publishing tidbit in Volume V of The Selected Journals of L. M. Montgomery.

Yes, I own all five volumes. They're gold mines of information about her sad life and about history in general. The editors, Mary Rubio and Elizabeth Waterston of the University of Guelph, worked on the project for nearly twenty years. They did a remarkable job, especially in the annotated notes. The five volumes aren't counted in the 30-some-odd books of hers I mentioned before.

(Told you I'm obsessed.)

The following snippet is from her journal entry dated Monday, May 13, 1935. Keep in mind this is about seven years prior to her death, nearly thirty years after Anne of Green Gables was published, and while she was working on one of her last three books:

A letter from Miss Elmo [LMM's New York agent] said she had sold "I Wish You" to Good Housekeeping for $50. I wrote this poem all of five years ago and I thought it one of my best but it has been declined twenty-three times. Good Housekeeping declined it soon after I wrote it. And now it takes it because an agent offered it!

Great reminder about the often topsy-turvy, illogical world that publishing is!


Julie Wright said...

I cannot believe the politics of publishing were so wretched even back then. Poor woman.

Luisa Perkins said...

A timely post for me to read! Logging in the rejections....

Unknown said...

Good thing to blog about today, Annette. Very good thing. Thanks.

samiam said...

I need to look through your collection someday--especially the pictures. You really need to visit P.E.I.--only a true Anne-ite can appreciate seeing Gog and Magog and Cpt. Jim's lighthouse--much less frolicking in the Haunted Wood and down Lover's Lane.

Annette Lyon said...

I'd LOVE to go to PEI. My SIL went there on her honeymoon. JEALOUS!

Of course, I'm weird in another way--if I could only visit one area of Canada, it wouldn't be PEI. It would be the greater Toronto area--Norval, Leaskdale and Toronto itself, the places where she lived while writing most of her books (this because I'm more of an LMM freak than an Anne one). But PEI would be a close second.


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