Welcome to Part 4 of The Complete Journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery, The PEI Years, 1889-1900.
Montgomery begins the year cozily snug with Tennyson and doughnuts, and gets interrupted by a boy, Lou, which she laments isn’t quite as good as a fireside curled up with Tennyson and doughnuts! I adore Montgomery and hope that we would’ve been friends.
As Montgomery continues her schoolmarm years (during 1895 and 1896), her publication credits begin to pile up.
In March 1895, she receives notice that a poem, “On the Gulf Shore” has been accepted by the Toronto Ladies Journal and later, a story “A Baking of Gingersnaps”, published by the same in July 1895; in February 1896, a short story, “Our Charivari” was sold to the Philadelphia magazine, Golden Days; an article commissioned by the editor of the Halifax Herald, entitled “A Girl’s Place at Dalhousie College”; and in March 1896, a poem called “Fisher Lassies” was published by The Youth’s Companion.
Golden Days went on to publish “Our Practical Joke” (July 1896) and “A Missing Pony” (September 1896). The Chicago Inter-Ocean published “In Spite of Myself” in July 1896. The American Agriculturist published “Home from Town” (November 1896) and “Riding to Church” (February 1897).
Maud had a tendency of submitting work under pseudonyms such as “Maud Eglinton”, “Maud Cavendish”, “M.L. Cavendish”, and once for a school contest, “Belinda Bluegrass”.
I have to wonder if Maud isn’t spinning a yarn with the reader of this journal. Apart from keeping track of her profuse writing, what I find remarkably frustrating about this point of Maud’s life, and perhaps a bit beyond belief, is how Maud casually goes around with so many boys who fancy her, and they all get their hearts broken. How much of this was fact and how much, the author’s own fancy? I’m not quite sure whether Maud is a reliable narrator in her own story and it’s keeping me on my toes.
As Maud concludes her time in Bideford, she journeys to Halifax where she is to attend college for a year taking advanced studies at the Ladies’ College and tries to go to the opera as often as she can. She adores Faust and unluckily, catches the measles. The college term over, Montgomery is to teach school at a town called Belmont where she writes journal entries (repeatedly) about the odd neighbors she encounters and the poor living conditions of her room, including, with one snowfall, drifts of snow falling through the window sash and coating her pillow!
Reading between the lines, she’s got a wonderful sense of humour and a lively mind. I’m trying not to idolize her as I’m writing but I can tell I’m gushing (a little).
Montgomery’s purple prose is enchanting and endears me evermore to her style of descriptive writing and the word choices and colours in which she paints her canvas of words in this literary journal.
“I refreshed my wearied senses drinking in the chaste beauty of the landscape. It was very calm and still and the declining sun cast chill pure tones of pink and heliotrope over the snow. There seemed to be an abundance — not of color but of the spirit of color. There was really nothing but pure white but you had the impression of fairy-like blendings of rose and violet, blue and opal and heliotrope” (258)
Isn’t that heavenly?
At the close of 1896, Maud is still teaching in Belmont and the icy conditions make it one of the worst boarding experiences she’s encountered yet. Will summer be here soon and what adventures will the new year hold? We shall see!
The Complete Journals of Lucy Maud Montgomery, The PEI Years, 1889-1900, edited by Mary Hensley Rubio and Elizabeth Hillman Waterston, Oxford University Press (published in Canada), 2012, hardcover, 484 pages.