Tag Archives: Lucy Maud Montgomery

The Glass Walls of Anne’s House of Dreams

©Copyright 2014 Amy Driedger, Ryerson University.


Montgomery, Lucy Maud. Anne's House of Dreams. M. L. Kirk, 1917. Print. Children's Literature Archive, Ryerson University.
Original cover art of Anne’s House of Dreams.


On March 11, 1919, Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote in her journal, “I began work on my tenth novel today. It is to be another ‘Anne’ story – and I fervently hope the last – dealing with her sons and daughters during the years of war. That will end Anne – and properly. For she belongs in the green untroubled pastures and still waters of the world before the war.” (Tector 72). Montgomery was not talking about Anne’s House of Dreams, but this quote sums up her thoughts on writing about her red-headed creation, Anne Shirley.

In looking at a book published during the war that’s content has nothing to do with the war opens the path for where to look and what to follow to connect this book to children’s books and war. There’s a focus on the context surrounding our author, Lucy Maud Montgomery. I am interested in the decision made by Montgomery to produce another Anne story during the Great War.

It’s important to look to the past, as we hear so often, because the past can teach us a lot about where we are going and can, hopefully, help us learn from past mistakes. Children learn about the past through reading stories portraying times that cannot be lived through ever again. There will also be a look at how important this war and how it was portrayed or not portrayed has affected the identity of Canada.


Summary of Anne’s House of Dreams

Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe as portrayed in the most recent film series.


In the beginning of our story, the newlyweds move to a town called Four Winds Point because Gilbert decided to take over his uncle’s medical practice. Anne makes herself at home, quickly becoming fond of her mysterious and tortured neighbour, Leslie Moore. Leslie’s story is one of tragic circumstances – she lost her father and brother early in her life and was forced by her mother to marry a man at the age of 16. The man whom she married, Dick Moore, went on a voyage out to sea and went missing. As Leslie was beginning to feel free of her ties to him, he was rescued and brought back with severe brain damage.


As the book goes on, Anne and Leslie become closer to each other, as Anne goes through losing an infant and Leslie begins to fall for Owen Ford, a man boarding with her. As the two fall deeper in love, the

realization that Leslie is trapped within a loveless marriage

hits them both and Owen leaves her.


Gilbert is fixated on helping Dick Moore and believes he can perform a surgery to fix his damaged brain. The surgery is a success and “Dick” realizes he is George, the real Dick Moore’s cousin. In light of this realization, Leslie is free from the bonds of her marriage, Owen returns, and the two become engaged. Throughout the story, Anne and Gilbert’s family grows and, reaching into reader’s nostalgia, names her children after important people in her life.

A free online version of this book can be found here .

Production & Reception

L M Montgomery
L. M. Montgomery.


What do you get when you add another, arguably, “escapist” novel to a best-selling series that thrives because of the protagonist’s vivid imagination? Well, another best-seller, of course! As shown in The Globe’s “Books of the Day” article, high praise was given to Montogmery “nine years after the original Anne of Green Gables” came out (Garvin). John Garvin, the reviewer, goes on to boast about the old friends/characters being reason enough to read the new addition to the series, as well as the “original, colourful, new characters”.



Anne Shirley: A Reflection of Montgomery’s Self-Fantasy?

As Anne’s House of Dreams‘ content has nothing to do with the war, a lot of digging into Lucy Maud Montgomery’s life had to be done to see the connections between the characters and storyline created and why this was an important book for children during the war.


On September 27, 2008, in an article in the Globe and Mail, Kate Macdonald Butler, Montgomery’s grandchild, admitted that her grandmother had, in fact, committed suicide, in an attempt to open the discussion on depression and to help take away the stigma of this illness. (Cowger 188) Within this article, there is claim to Anne Shirley being, at least sort of, an autobiographical character, and as such, she is looked at differently in light of the new information that was given on Montgomery from her grand daughter and about her depression. (Cowger 188) There are quite a few similarities between Montgomery and her creation. Montgomery’s upbringing was similar to Anne, her mother died and her father couldn’t take care of her, so she was raised by her grandparents. (Cowger 189)

Cowger goes on to explain how the longer the story of Anne goes on, the more disenchanted she becomes (196). This is most evident, arguably, in Anne’s House of Dreams, as the storylines and subploys focus on depression, deaths, suicides, and unfulfilled lives. For example, even before the time period in the book, Leslie’s father kills himself (Montgomery 72). Further on, as was previously mentioned, Anne’s first child dies as an infant and even when she repairs her broken heart, she is laced with a seemingly new “grim shape of fear [that] shadows and darkens her vision” (Montgomery 165).

As presumptuous as it may seem to say Montgomery was projecting herself into Anne, that also didn’t stop and hasn’t stopped her fan base. In reality, the fact that reviews and profiles of her in newspapers gave the same qualities they found in Anne, to Montgomery – wholesome, modest, youthful, rural environment – helped her become one of, if not the most, renown authors in Canadian literature (Hammill 652). If you think about it, Anne Shirley has more fame or more of a namesake than Lucy Maud Montgomery but Montgomery’s name has stuck because of the association with Anne’s name (Hammill 652). As a child, I always wanted to go to Anne’s house in Prince Edward Island, not Montgomery’s and when you enter Prince Edward Island, some of the licence plates read “Home of Anne of Green Gables”, with no mention of Montgomery.


A More Personal Look at The Production of Anne’s House of Dreams

The question must come up after finding out so much about Montgomery’s thoughts and perceptions about the world in general – again, why write just another Anne story? Something to remember is that nostalgia was very important to young and old Canadians, alike. Anne was a familiar, charming character, and to see her in a world where war still didn’t exist was comforting and, some would argue, needed.


All the same, Montgomery wanted to write about things deeper than another story about the ongoing life of her beloved and idealistic heroine, Anne. She longed to write about current events and give more than just an escape. She felt constrained by her novels about Anne because, as much as she knew what she wanted to write about, she felt trapped by her audience and publishers, knowing they wanted more Anne (Tector 72). Later on, Montgomery would fulfill the need she felt, when she wrote Rilla of Ingleside (1921), a book in which she could write about war within the world of Anne, but separate from Anne. So, during the war years, she continued to write nostalgically.


A seemingly unimportant task, such as writing about the same red-head going through the same emotions, finding more kindred spirits, becomes one of the most important tools for humans trying to cope during a traumatic time, such as the first world war (Cook). “The Great War was Canada’s coming-of-age event.” For the nation, to take part in these four years changed the country, as a whole, as it did for the rest of the world, as well (Cook).

Canada Finds Its Own Identity

It has been said that the first world war was the time when Canada really grew into its own country, choosing to fight not under but alongside Britain, and demanding to be recognized as a separate country – a country that had a significant impact on the results of the first world war.

Canada’s decisive role in the last 100 days of the war alone, and the innumerable contributions and sacrifices made at home were the divisions caused by conscription, the persecution of ethnic minorities and political dissenters, the manipulation of the voting system, and nearly a quarter million Canadians killed or wounded and countless others psychologically scarred for the rest of their lives (Blake 166).

At the time of the inter-war years, no other author had the same amount of power as Montgomery had then and as she has still, a century later (Hammill 653). Montgomery is partially responsible for exporting Canadian literature and culture about the world and during the war this could be seen through the popularity of her novels (Hammill 653).


Montgomery played a pivotal role in shaping our Canadian identity. Her impact may not, yet, be realized, but she has helped shape our culture, which can be seen though the memorable characters she creates, such as Anne, who has the ability to change her world through the power of the word, as she is a well-known bookworm and loves to write (Tector 82). Although Anne’s House of Dreams was seemingly “just another Anne book”, the series remained an important staple in the lives of Canadian children because it offered a safe escape to a familiar land. Montgomery is a fascinating woman, who struggled with her own demons but put them on the shelf, or rather, wrote through them, creating story lines and characters that resonated with a hungry audience. The book’s production is important to look at, as well as the context surrounding the production, to see what was in demand during the first world war. Montgomery, always faithful to her audience, gave what was asked and used her skills to create a sense of nostalgia that was high in demand.

Further Viewing

Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story . This film re-imagined what Anne’s world would have been like if the war was present in the last books in Montgomery’s series.

Works Cited

Blake, Raymond et al. Narrating a Nation: Canadian History Post-Confederation. Toronto: McGRaw-Hill Ryerson Ltd., 2011. Print.

Cook, Tim. “Quill and Canon: Writing the Great War in Canada.” American Review of Canadian Studies 35.3 (2005): 503–530. Print.

Cowger, Ashley. “From ‘Pretty Nearly Perfectly Happy’ to ‘the Depths of Despair’: Mania and Depression in L. M. Montgomery’s Anne Series.” Lion & the Unicorn 34.2 (2010): 188–199. JSTOR. Web. 09 Feb. 2014.

Garvin, John W. “Books of the Day.” The Globe (1844-1936) 24 Aug. 1917. ProQuest. Web. 19 Feb. 2014.

Hammill, Faye. “‘A New and Exceedingly Brilliant Star’: L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables, and Mary Miles Minter.” Modern Language Review 101.3 (2006): 652–670. ProQuest. Web. 09 Feb. 2014.

Montgomery, L. M. Anne’s House of Dreams. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1917. Print.

—. My Dear Mr. M: Letters to G. B. Macmillan from L. M. Montgomery. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1992. Print.

Tector, Amy. “A Righteous War?: L. M. Montgomery’s Depiction of the First World War in Rilla of InglesideCanadian Literature 179 (2003): 72–86. Academic Search Premier. Web. 21 Feb. 2014.



Works Consulted

Epperly, Elizabeth, and Irene Gammel. L. M. Montgomery and Canadian Culture. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999. Print.

Lyons, Chris. “‘Children Who Read Good Books Usually Behave Better, and Have Good Manners’: The Founding of the Notre Dame de Grace Library for Boys and Girls, Montreal, 1943.” Library Trends 55.3 (2007): 597–608. ProQuest. Web. 21 Feb. 2014.



Rilla of Ingleside: An Account of Canadian Women and War

© Copyright 2014 Jennifer Spiteri, Ryerson University

<em>Rilla of Ingleside</em>


L.M. Montgomery’s Rilla of Ingleside published by Grosset and Dunlap in 1921, New York is held by the CLA collection at Ryerson University. Written for young women after World War I, this first edition is signed by the previous owner, Jennifer Bevan. The signature may be found on the front free endpaper of the novel, illustrated by Edward Sheldon. As the eighth and final book in the Anne of Green Gables series, this novel differs from the rest of its kind. Standing as one of few representations of Canadian war experience (Silvey 310), and offering a rare representation of Canadian women during WWI, it can be argued that this narrative is more than just a work for children. Montgomery’s novel provides an important voice to the battles fought by Canadian women on the home front. I set out to explore how this narrative was used by Montgomery to present a historical representation of women’s roles during WWI. In order to do so, I will discuss Montgomery’s depiction of Canadian females’ roles through the main character Rilla. I will then focus on the inclusion of Montgomery’s personal experience as a Canadian Woman during the war. Finally, I aim to analyze biased opinions that Montgomery included within her novel while representing  WWI.

Rilla of Ingleside Front Endpapers
Front endpapers of Rilla of Ingleside illustrated by Edward Sheldon and signed by previous owner Jennifer Bevan in the top, right corner.


Rilla of Ingleside is a story written from the point of view of Anne and Gilbert Blythe’s youngest daughter, Rilla Blythe. As a 15 year old Canadian girl, Rilla is simply concerned with her small world and is focused on going to her first dance, where she hopes to gain the attentions of Kenneth Ford. Rilla’s carefree personality and lack of ambition are expressed, in contrast with her wish to be considered a serious adult. Rilla’s world is turned upside down when the beginning of World War I is announced at the dance. She is forced to face the reality of war and the demand that it will have on her as a female. Rilla must suddenly endure many hardships including parting with loved ones such as her brother Jem, who immediately enlists, and Kenneth who eventually enlists. She must also act as a trustworthy confident to her brother Walter, who is fearful of war and thinks of himself as a coward for failing to enlist. Rilla feels as if she is responsible to contribute to the war efforts and starts the junior Red Cross in her area. The extent of Rilla’s maturity is tested when she finds a war baby whose mother has died and whose father is fighting at war. The child is placed into her care and the importance of her role as a female becomes greater. Rilla can be considered a guardian and hero, having saved a life. Her strength as a woman during WWI is further tested when her brother Walter enlists for the war and is killed. Rilla’s brother Shirley also enlists when he turns of age. The novel approaches an end when the duration of the war is over. It is clear that by the end of the war that Rilla’s life and position as a female has dramatically changed. She has lost her admired brother Walter, she turns over care of the war baby to its father, and her lover Kenneth returns home to her. Although Rilla undergoes extreme transformation, the war assists her in finding her place in the world. Through Rilla’s character, one may gather an understanding of the importance of women’s roles and contributions to Canadian society during the war.

Montgomery's Published Journals
The Lucy Maud Montgomery Society of Ontario presents Montgomery’s journals, published in five volumes and written between 1889-1942.


Montgomery compiled Rilla of Ingleside in an attempt to share the experiences of Canadian women and the importance of their roles during WWI. She wished to write a serious novel differing from her previous stories. Despite her wish, the demand from her audience and editors for more Anne of Green Gables books pressured Montgomery (DeGagne 2-3; Tector). Montgomery knew that her writing had to provide an income, and a new novel, outside of her famous series, would not be as widely accepted or as successful (DeGagne 6). Despite her dissatisfaction with the continuation of the series, she produced Rilla of Ingleside. Though this novel is a part of the series, it is somehow different from the others as it contains important representations of the roles of women during WWI. Montgomery had found a way to give her fan base what they wanted, while still writing the serious novel she had dreamed of. Tector explains that Montgomery described it as her only purposeful novel. Much of the content from the novel was inspired by her personal journals (Silvey 310). Having been somewhat based on Montgomery’s first hand experience, the novel revealed dark insight into Canadian life during the war. In her personal journal, Montgomery explains that an early publisher, Stokes and Company, suggested she lighten the contents of the novel1 (qtd. in Webb 66), but Montgomery refused to provide a false representation of war to her readers. Montgomery’s publisher also believed she should have included more recognition of the US (DeGagne 8). Once again, Montgomery rejected this suggestion, due to her decision to focus on bringing recognition to patriotic Canadians at war (8).

Rilla of Ingleside Title Page
On the title page, Sheard is quoted in commemoration of sacrificed youth.


Despite the gloomy subject of war New York Times reviewed the novel, in relation to the Anne of Green Gables series, as a “captivating sunny story” (Webb 66). On the other hand, Globe and Mail discussed the novel in contrast to the rest of the series, highlighting that it focused more on the reality of war than the character of Rilla (“Life and Letters”). Despite the positive reviews, the novel also received some criticism. In Montgomery’s journal2 she discusses an Australian pacifist who viewed the novel as a, “‘beastly book’  because it ‘glorifies war’” (qtd. in Webb 67). The novel was also viewed as an essential account of History and the Canadian war experience. In response to the novel’s release, a Canadian librarian explained that the book would stand as an important part of Canada’s history and the war (67). The novel was an overall success and by the year 1924 an impressive 12,000 copies had been purchased (67).

Analysis in Relation to Theme via Critical Approach

Representation of Canadian Female’s Roles During WWI Through Rilla 

Through the character of Rilla, Montgomery exemplifies the contributions of Canadian females during war. Although males are highlighted as heros, Montgomery proves that women held equally important positions in supporting their country. The novel reflects drastic changes in the roles of women within a patriarchal society during WWI. Women, unlike men, did not have the sole expectation of fulfilling one role, as they were unable to become soldiers (Coates 67). Females were then left without direct guidance and were expected to create their own roles (67). Rilla exemplifies this through her longing to help which leads to her formation of a junior Red Cross group. Through Rilla, the feelings of stress and anxiety that women experienced are made clear. Rilla is left unsure of whether or not her lover or brothers will return, which also reflects what women were left to worry about on the home front in Canada. Women were expected to care for their children by themselves, and remained unsure of their fate as well as their children’s. Single mother responsibility in situations where fathers left home to fight in the war are displayed. This is evident within the case of the war baby, James. Through Rilla, the roles that single mothers had to play are made clear, as she cares for the child without the present support of its father.

Red Cross Poster from WWI
A Canadian Red Cross poster from WWI encourages those on the home front to contribute to the war effort (Designer and Printer Unknown).

The Inclusion of Montgomery’s Personal War Experience Through Rilla

In her novel, Montgomery included many of her personal experiences and views of the war, which she wrote about in her journals (DeGagne 16). Montgomery herself contributed to the war efforts and was a member of the Red Cross (18). This was reflected in Rilla’s decision to begin a junior Red Cross group in her own community. During her work towards supporting the war efforts, Montgomery witnessed particular women slandering the work of others (18). Montgomery believed these women did not deserve to be commemorated (18) and expressed their dishonorable characteristics in her novel through Irene Howard, a character who caused difficulty and disturbances in the Red Cross group. This character’s negative attitude stands as a contrast to highlight the honourable roles that women such as the heroine Rilla played.

Using Rilla as a motif, Montgomery exemplifies the growth of herself, as a female author, as well as the roles of females, during the war. At first, Rilla is seen as childish and is not taken seriously. This can be viewed as a reflection on the reception of Montgomery’s earlier children’s works. It may also mirror the perceived unimportant roles of Canadian women prior to war. As the story evolves, Rilla is taken seriously which parallels the growth of Montgomery’s series, while also reflecting the growth of women’s roles and their importance during the war.

Bias and Support of War Through Rilla

Although Montgomery does attempt to offer a serious representation of war, her biased opinions are made clear throughout the novel. In Montgomery’s letters to Ephriam Weber3 her annoyance and negative opinions of pacifists are displayed (qtd. in Tector). Montgomery’s biased opinions are made clear in the novel when she frames pacifist characters, such as Josiah Pryor, as disliked, mischievous and unworthy of being considered a Canadian (Montgomery, 1996 219). Montgomery worked to show patriotic women in support of war in a positive light, using Rilla as the epitome of a respectable and patriotic Canadian (DeGagne 18). This is evident through Rilla’s pride when she sees her brother Jem in uniform and comments on the “splendid” idea of so many Canadian men immediately enlisting in honor of their country (Montgomery, 1996 43). Although Montgomery’s stance can be perceived as biased, one must take into consideration that supporting war and being patriotic were intertwined values at the time the novel was written (Webb 67). Even though the novel may be reinforcing Montgomery’s own personal values, it still reflects the views of many other Canadians during the war. It can then be argued that Montgomery’s biased opinions still illustrate the dominant views of the time.


Based on the above evidence it can be gathered that Rilla of Ingleside is and can be studied as more than a novel for children. Having provided insight into the roles of Canadian women during the war, Montgomery’s work contributes greatly to the history of Canada. Montgomery not only gives voice to the experiences of Canadian women, she also includes significant accounts of her own war efforts and involvement. Through her revelations, it is made clear that although women may have felt as if they could only sit at home and cry (Montgomery, 1996 35), the battles they fought on the home front were equally as heroic and deserving of being commemorated as those of Canadian male soldiers.

Link to Rilla of Ingleside in Ryerson’s CLA Catalouge

L.M. Montgomery Canadian Bookman January 1909

L.M Montgomery was recognized in The Canadian Bookman, in 1909 for having written the popular work Anne of Green Gables that spurred on her eight novel series, ending with Rilla of Ingleside.


1. Webb in reference to L.M Montgomery’s, The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery 

Volume II: 1910-1921, see page 404.

2. Webb in reference to L.M Montgomery’s, The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery 

Volume III: 1921-1929, see page 387.

3. Tector in reference to a letter written in 1916 from, L.M. Montgomery’s Letters to

Ephraim Weber 1916-1941.

  Works Cited

Coates, Donna. “The Best Soldiers of All: Unsung Heroines in Canadian Women’s Great

War Fictions”. Canadian Literature 151 (2011): 66-99. Web. 5 Feb. 2014.

DeGagne, Debra Childs. Women Worth Fighting For: Revaluing Gender and War in

‘Rilla of Ingleside’. Diss. Royal Military College of Canada, 2012. Ann Arbor: UMI, 2012.

ProQuest. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.

“LIFE AND LETTERS.” Rev. of Rilla of Ingleside, by L.M. Montgomery. Globe and Mail 1

October 1921: 19. ProQuest. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.

Montgomery, L.M. Rilla of Ingleside. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1921. Print.

—. Rilla of Ingleside. N.p. Seal Books, 1996. Print.

Silvey, Anita. “Montgomery, L.M.” The Essential Guide to Children’s Books and Their 

           Creators. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002. 309-310. Web. 4 Feb. 2014.

Tector, Amy. “A Righteous War?: L.M. Montgomery’s Depiction of the First World War in

Rilla of Ingleside.” Canadian Literature 179 (2003): 72–86. ProQuest. Web. 15 Feb. 2014

Webb, Peter. Occupants of Memory: War in Twentieth-Century Canadian Fiction. Diss. U

Ottawa, 2007. Ann Arbor: UMI, 2007. ProQuest. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.

Works Consulted

Montgomery, L.M. Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery. 5 Vols. Ed. Mary Rubio and

Elizabeth Waterston. Toronto: Oxford UP, 1985-2005.

Montgomery, L.M. L.M. Montgomery’s Letters to Ephraim Weber 1916-1941. Ed.

Paul Gerard Tiessen and Hildi Froese Tiessen. Waterloo, ON: MLR Editions Canada,