Montgomery, L.M.

L.M. (Lucy Maud) Montgormery

L.M. Montgomery (1874-1942) produced one of the sunniest characters in children’s literature, Anne Shirley of Anne of Green Gables, while her own life was filled with cares, including nearly lifelong depression. When she was born her mother died and her father abandoned her, leaving her to be raised by her grandparents. And she shared her identity as an orphan with the character Anne Shirley; the fact that she created one of the most cheerful characters in children’s literature is somewhat ironic.

Before becoming published she worked as a teacher and then as a proofreader copy editor for the Halifax Journal. When she began writing short stories and poems she was mostly met with rejection, but at the age of 21 she sold her first short story for five dollars and never looked back.  Her stories’ blend of nostalgia and realism have captivated readers for generations. Lucy Maud Montgomery kept copious journals, and the theme that emerges from her reflections was that despite her personal troubles, she viewed her writing as a vehicle for bringing joy to others. 

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L.M Montgomery Quotes

“It’s not what the world holds for you. It is what you bring to it.” (Anne of Green Gables, 1908)

“I hate to lend a book I love…it never seems quite the same when it comes back to me…”

“The body grows slowly and steadily but the soul grows by leaps and bounds…” (Rilla of Ingleside, 1921)

“When you’ve learned to laugh at the things that should be laughed at, and not to laugh at those that shouldn’t, you’ve got wisdom and understanding.” (Anne of the Island, 1915)

“Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.” (The Story Girl, 1911)

“We should regret our mistakes and learn from them, but never carry them forward into the future with us.”

“I am simply a ‘book drunkard.’ Books have the same irresistible temptation for me that liquor has for its devotee. I cannot withstand them.”

“Now, it used to be at home that I thought undisturbed solitude was necessary that the fire of genius might burn. I must be alone and the room must be quiet. It would have been the last thing to enter my imagination to suppose that I could ever write anything at all, much less anything of value, in a newspaper office…I would have laughed at the idea…Every morning here I write and not bad stuff either. I have grown accustomed to stopping in the midst of a paragraph to interview a prowling caller…” (From her journal, entry dated January, 1910)

“Oh, it’s delightful to have ambitions. I’m so glad I have such a lot. And there never seems to be any end to them– that’s the best of it. Just as soon as you attain to one ambition you see another one glittering higher up still. It does make life so interesting.” (Anne of Green Gables, 1908)

“You may tire of reality but you never tire of dreams.” (The Road to Yesterday, 1974)

“Life is worth living as long as there’s laugh in it.” (Anne of Green Gables, 1908)

“Humor is the spiciest condiment in the feast of existence. Laugh at your mistakes but learn from them, joke over your troubles but gather strength from them, make a jest of your difficulties but overcome them.”

“You were never poor as long as you had something to love.”

“Last night I sat down and computed the number of dollars I have made by my pen since that day in Halifax twenty-five  years ago when I got my first check — five dollars for a story. The result totals up to about one hundred thousand dollars. Not such a bad total, considering the equipment I started out with — my pen and a knack of expression. If Pages [her publisher] had not been rogues I should have had at least fifty thousand more. But it’s no so bad. It’s a pity it doesn’t mean happiness. But perhaps my children will reap the happiness fron it that I cannot have. And perhaps they would be better off, and more ambitious and successful if they had to scramble along and struggle as I did. That seems often to be the way in this mad world.” (From her journal, entry dated February, 1921)

“The moment we see our first darling brain-child in black type is never to be forgotten.”

“Well, we all make mistakes, dear, so just put it behind you. We should regret our mistakes and learn from them, but never carry them forward into the future with us.” (Anne of Avonlea, 1909)

“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”

“Oh, it’s delightful to have ambitions. I’m so glad I have such a lot. And there never seems to be any end to them — that’s the best of it. Just as soon as you attain to one ambition you see another one glittering higher up still. It does make life so interesting.” (Anne of Green Gables, 1908)

“Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive–it’s such an interesting world. It wouldn’t be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it? There’d be no scope for imagination then, would there?” (Anne of Green Gables, 1908)

“It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you makeup your mind firmly that it will.” (Anne of Green Gables, 1908)

“At first I used to feel dreadfully hurt when a story or poem over which I had laboured and agonized came back, with one of those icy little rejection slips. Tears of disappointment would come in spite of myself, as I crept away to hide the poor, crimpled manuscript in the depths of my trunk. But after awhile I got hardened to it and did not mind. I only set my teeth and said, “I will succeed.” I believe in myself and I struggled on alone, in secrecy and silence. I never told my ambitions and efforts and failures to any one. Down, deep down, under all discouragements and rebuff I know I would “arrive” some day.” (The Alpine Path, 1917)

“People laugh at me because I use big words. But if you have big ideas, you have to use big words to express them, haven’t you?” (Anne of Green Gables, 1908)

“All life lessons are not learned at college,’she thought. Life teaches them everywhere.” (Anne of the Island, 1915)

“You were never poor as long as you had something to love.”

“There might be some hours of loneliness. But there was something wonderful even in loneliness. At least you belonged to yourself when you were lonely.” (Mistress Pat, 1935)

“Humor is the spiciest condiment in the feast of existence. Laugh at your mistakes but learn from them, joke over your troubles but gather strength from them, make a jest of your difficulties but overcome them.”

“I doubt if I shall ever have time to read the book again — there are too many new ones coming out all the time which I want to read. Yet an old book has something for me which no new book can ever have — for at every reading the memories and atmosphere of other readings come back and I am reading old years as well as an old book.” (The Selected Journals Of L.M. Montgomery, Vol. 3: 1921-1929; 1988)

“Next to trying and winning, the best thing is trying and failing.”

“I’d like to add some beauty to life,” said Anne dreamily. “I don’t exactly want to make people know more…though I know that is the noblest ambition…but I’d love to make them have a pleasanter time because of me…to have some little joy or happy thought that would neer have existed if I hadn’t been born.” (Anne of Avonlea, 1909)  

“I read an article in which the writer spoke of a book he had once hoped to write and never would. This set me thinking of the book I planned to write — but never did. There were several of them in my early teens, all carefully “thought out” and quite complete in my mental storehouse…many an evening I walked alone in the afterglow of autumnal sunsets — composing them and a jolly good time I had of it.
I did write a book whereof no record remaineth. It was back I think in ’99 or ’00. I intended it for a “Sunday School Library Book” — thinking that if I could get it accepted by one of the religious publishing houses I might make a few hundreds out of it…back it came. I never sent it out again. Probably if I had kept on I might have found a publisher. I am exceedingly thankful I did not. To have had that book accepted would have been the greatest misfortune that ever happened to “my literary career.” I could never risen above it; and it would probably have committed me to a lifetime of writing “series” similar to it.
But I did not realize my luck escape at the time. The cloud of disappointment seemed to have no silver lining and I cried myself to sleep for a week over the downfall of my humble little castle of dreams.” (From her journal, entry dated July, 1925)

“I have always kept a notebook in which I jotted down, as they occurred to me, ideas for plots, incidents, characters and descriptions. Two years ago in the spring of 1905 I was looking over this notebook in search of some suitable idea for a short serial I wanted to write for a certain Sunday School paper and I found a faded entry, written ten years before: — “Elderly couple apply to orphan asylum for a boy. By mistake a girl is sent them.” I thought this would do. I began to block out chapters, devise incidents and “brood up” my heroine. Somehow or other she seemed very real to me and I thought it rather a shame to waste her on an ephemeral little serial. Then the thought came, “Write a book about her.”
The result of this was “Anne of Green Gables.”…It was a labor of love. Nothing I have written gave me so much pleasure to write. I cast “moral” and “Sunday School” ideals to the winds and made my Anne a real human girl. Many of my own childhood experiences and dreams were worked up into its chapters…I typewrote it out on my old second-hand typewriter that never makes the capital plain and doesn’t print “w” at all.
[After three rejections] I put “Anne” away in an old hat box…resolving that some day when I had time I would cut her down to the seven chapters of my original idea and send her to the aforesaid Sunday School paper…I came across it during a rummage…”I’ll try it once more” I said and I sent it to the L.C. Page Co. They took it and asked me to write a sequel to it. The book may or may not sell well. I wrote it for love not money.” (From her journal, entry dated August, 1907)  

“One of the reviews says, “The book radiates happiness and optimism.” When I think of the conditions of worry and gloom and care under which it was written I wonder at this…I would not wish to darken any other life — I want instead to be a messenger of optimism and sunshine…It is a joy to feel that my long years of struggle and unaided effort have been crowned with success.” (From her journal, entry dated January, 1910)  

“To-day has been, as Anne herself would say, ‘an epoch in my life.’ My book came to-day…from the publishers. I candidly confess that it was to me a proud and wonderful and thrilling moment. There, in my hand, lay the material realization of all the dreams and hopes and ambitions and struggles of my whole conscious existence — my first book. Not a great book, but mine, mine, mine, something which I have created.” (The Alpine Path, 1917)

 

 

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