For 30 years she has been researching the long-lost stories of L.M. Montgomery.
“At first, we had no clue where to find them,” says Collins, a perennial presenter at the L.M. Montgomery Institute Symposium that is held at UPEI.
But instead of digging through dusty stacks at libraries, thumbing through pages and pages magazines and newspapers, she searched the internet.
“I was fortunate that several websites have digitized some of the early periodicals so I didn’t have nearly as much dust as I thought, just late nights on the internet,” says Collins, who is thrilled to be part of a team of researchers who several years ago discovered 21 stories penned by Montgomery.
“If I were a gold miner, I would compare it to finding gold nuggets. When you’re on the hunt for something, any time you find a treasure, it’s so satisfying and rewarding that the hours and hours you spend not finding something disappears in the excitement of it,” says the Park Corner summer resident and one of the driving forces behind a new book featuring Montgomery’s work.
Along with Christy Woster, Collins has selected and edited the pieces for “After Many Years: Twenty-one Long Lost Stories.”
Published by Nimbus, the collection brings together “rare pieces originally published between 1900 and 1939 that haven’t appeared in print since their initial periodicals,” states the front flyleaf.
“The first stories in the book were written for young children and teenagers. But, as Montgomery developed her style, she took on more adult characters and themes, like romances. You’ll see these later in the book,” says Collins.
The new stories range from “The Chivers Light”, about a boy abandoning his duties as a lighthouse keeper and facing the consequences, and “Elvie’s Necklace”, a tale of lost jewelry and a hired boy who gets blamed, to “For the Good of Anthony” a romance story and “Our Neighbours at the Tansy Patch”, a comical story about different types of neighbours, both written for adults.
Collins says she’s excited that most of the stories are set on P.E.I.
“It’s also exciting to know that readers of L.M. Montgomery will have something to read after all these years,” says the author, who is holding a book-signing event at UPEI’s Robertson Library July 27, 6-7 p.m. (All proceeds will go to the L.M. Montgomery Institute.)
Collins’ quest began in 1986, shortly after L.M. Montgomery’s bibliography was published. The author, Rea Wilmshurst, had been looking for Montgomery’s stories ever since she spotted them in scrapbooks at Montgomery’s birthplace in Clifton, whenever she visited, and began compiling a list of stories and poems.
Before her death in 1996, Wilmhurst had found the sources for 400 of her stories. But there were 75 more to find.
“It intrigued some of us who had bought her bibliography to ask, ‘Where are those 75 titles?’ What happened to them? So that’s when I started my quest,” says Collins, who found the first one, “The Mirror” in 2000. “It’s a supernatural story.”
Then as other researchers found missing stories they sent them to Collins who was working on another bibliography, building on Wilmhurst’s work.
Soon she had a collection of 21 stories.
And there were more to find.
“After this book went to press I discovered another. It’s called “In the Home of Her Mother”. I’m pretty sure it was set in the Macneill Family Homestead in Cavendish.”
- What: Book signing for “After Many Years”.
- When and where: July 27, 6-7 p.m., UPEI’s Robertson Library, Charlottetown
- Authors: Selected and edited by Carolyn Strom Collins and Christy Woster.
- Dedication: Christy Woster, who also researched and discovered a Montgomery story, died on April 29, 1916. The book is dedicated to her memory.
- Fundraiser: All proceeds will go to the L.M. Montgomery Institute.