L.M. Montgomery studied English literature at Dalhousie University for one year, 1895-96, and then in 1901-2 she lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia again when she worked for the newspaper The Daily Echo. She mentions Halifax and its landmarks, especially beautiful Point Pleasant Park, many times in her journals, and she fictionalized the city as Kingsport, Nova Scotia, and Dalhousie as Redmond College when she wrote Anne of the Island, the third novel in the “Anne” series.
I first read Montgomery’s novels when I was a child living in Halifax, but I wasn’t very aware of the Nova Scotia connections. It wasn’t obvious to me at the time that the unnamed “park” in Anne of the Island was inspired by Point Pleasant, a place that was very familiar to me. And while my father taught (and still teaches) English literature at Dalhousie, I hadn’t yet read Montgomery’s journal entries about Dalhousie, I didn’t make the connection between Redmond and Dalhousie, and I didn’t know that when I grew up I would study English literature at Dalhousie myself. (I wrote a Ph.D. dissertation on Jane Austen and the classical and theological virtues – and an M.A. thesis on medieval marriage poetry.)
A few years ago I moved back home to Halifax to write full time, and I’ve been rediscovering the story of L.M. Montgomery in Nova Scotia. I’m fascinated by the way Montgomery writes about Halifax and Dalhousie – both places have the power to inspire her, but at the same time she experienced some very low moments when she lived here.
Here are the blog posts I’ve written about L.M. Montgomery and Nova Scotia:
A series of three posts on Anne of Green Gables and Point Pleasant Park:
Other posts on L.M. Montgomery:
A Passion for Dead Leaves: Jane Austen and the Penderwicks (“Oh, Marilla, I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it?”)
Birthday “Coincidences” in Emma and Anne of Green Gables (“Diana’s birthday is in February and mine is in March. Don’t you think that is a very strange coincidence?”)
The 2017 Emily Readalong, hosted by Naomi of Consumed by Ink:
In addition to Anne of the Island, here are some of the books and essays I’ve been reading in my exploration of L.M. Montgomery’s Nova Scotia connection.
The Complete Journals of L.M. Montgomery: The PEI Years, 1901-1911, edited by Mary Henley Rubio and Elizabeth Hillman Waterston (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013).
The Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery: Volume I: 1889-1910, edited by Mary Rubio and Elizabeth Waterston (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985).
The Lucy Maud Montgomery Album, compiled by Kevin McCabe, edited by Alexandra Heilbron (Toronto, ON: Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 1998). Includes sections on “Dalhousie University, 1895-96,” by Kevin McCabe and on “Halifax Days” by Carol Dobson.
Imagining Anne: The Island Scrapbooks of L.M. Montgomery, by Elizabeth Rollins Epperly (Toronto, ON: Penguin, 2008).
“L.M. Montgomery’s Halifax: The Real Life Inspiration for Anne of the Island,” by Sue Lange, The Shining Scroll (December 2011, Part 2).
“The Dalhousie Girls,” by Christy Woster, The Shining Scroll (December 2011, Part 2).
If you have suggestions about further reading on LMM in NS, please share in the comments below!