Ryerson University

The Intimate Life of L.M. Montgomery

Edited by Irene Gammel
Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005.


"This is a groundbreaking, first-rate collection of particular interest to scholars of life writing and the history of women in Canada."
The Canadian Historical Review


Who ultimately is L.M. Montgomery, and why was there such an obsession with secrecy, hiding, and encoding in her life and fiction?

Delving into the hidden life of Canada's most enigmatic writer, The Intimate Life of L.M. Montgomery answers those questions. The eleven essays illuminate Montgomery's personal writings and photographic self-portraits and probe the ways in which she actively shaped her life as a work of art. This is the first book to investigate Montgomery's personal writings, which filled thousands of pages in journals, and a memoir, correspondence, scrapbooks, and photography.

Using theories of autobiography and life writing, the essays probe the author's flair for the dramatic and her exuberance in costuming, while also probing the personal facts behind some of her fiction, including the beloved Anne of Green Gables. Focussing on topics such as sexuality, depression, marriage, aging, illness, and writing, the essays strip away the layers of art and artifice that disguised Montgomery's most intensely guarded secrets, including details of her affair with Herman Leard, her marriage with Ewen Macdonald, and her friendship with Nora Lefurgey. The book also includes over 40 rare photographs taken by Montgomery and others, many of which have not previously appeared in print.

One of the highlights of The Intimate Life of L.M. Montgomery is the inclusion of a secret diary that Montgomery wrote with Lefurgey in 1903. This hilarious document is a rare find, for Montgomery's teasing banter presents us with a new voice that is distinct from the sombre tone of her journals. Published here for the first time, more than 100 years after its composition, this diary is virtually unknown to readers and scholars, and is a welcome addition to the literature on this important figure.

This volume fills in many of the blanks surrounding Montgomery's personal life. Engaging and erudite, it is a boon for scholars and Montgomery fans alike.

Image Gallery

Read Irene Gammel's introduction to The Intimate Life of L.M. Montgomery


Praise and Reviews

Portrait of the artist as a young lady... Gammel and her fellow contributors point out that Montgomery continually revised her life story in her journals, omitting key events and rewriting others... Discerning the true feelings of ‘Canada’s most enigmatic literary icon,’ it turns out, is no easy task.
Maclean’s Magazine


"This is a groundbreaking, first-rate collection of particular interest to scholars of life writing and the history of women in Canada."
— Heidi Macdonald, The Canadian Historical Review


An engaging read [and] a major contribution...
— Margaret Conrad, Canada Research Chair in Atlantic Canada Studies


The collaborative diary of L. M. Montgomery and Nora Lefurgey is a fascinating and entertaining read. It reveals a witty, flirtatious, irreverent Montgomery, and is an important counterbalance to the record of introspection, pain and depression found in her private journal for the same period.
— Faye Hammill, Editor, British Journal of Canadian Studies


I really enjoyed reading Irene Gammel's The Intimate Life of L.M. Montgomery. I was intrigued by the idea of searching for the 'real' Maud Montgomery through the masks she wore, and I loved the Montgomery- Lefurgey diary. I find myself surprisingly touched by it...
— Janet Lunn, Governor General’s Award winner for The Hollow Tree and author of Maud’s House of Dreams


A beautiful and fascinating book. It will add immeasurably to what we know about Montgomery.
— Wendy Barry, Co-editor of The Annotated Anne of Green Gables


The welcome publication of this diary (and accompanying criticism) enhances and complicates our understanding of Montgomery, confirming that the angst-ridden author of the Journals was just one of her textual personas. She was also the lively, imaginative Anne – and remained so well into her adult years.
— Carole Gerson, Author of Paddling her Own Canoe


Irene Gammel’s work on the author of Anne of Green Gables has deeply altered our understanding of one of Canada's most influential authors. The Intimate Life of L. M. Montgomery changes anyone's ideas about Montgomery's personal life and how sexuality and depression shaped her writing.
— Sherrie Inness, Author of Delinquents and Debutantes and editor of Action Chicks


The Intimate Life of L. M. Montgomery is fascinating—Nora is quite the little minx; and the photos are wonderful... The book unpacks the complicated performance of female subjectivity at work in Montgomery’s published and unpublished writings.
— Peter Dickinson, Author of Here is Queer: Nationalism, Sexualities and the Literature of Canada


I really enjoyed the Nora and Maud journal—gooseberrying and all—and I was also quite taken with the essay about her long-time correspondent. The book was inspirational on many levels.
— Marcy Jarvis, Author of A Broad in Swabia

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