L.M. Montgomery's secret dark side revealed in republished, uncensored journals

Mary Rubio, a retired professor from the University of Guelph who’s done extensive work on Lucy Maud Montgomery’s life, is currently working on publishing the complete versions of Montgomery's journals.

In total, Montgomery wrote 10 personal journals, which talk about her life in P.E.I. and Ontario

A retired U of G professor is working to publish the complete versions of all of L.M. Montgomery's journals. Mary Rubio was in Leaskdale, Ont., on July 5 for the launch of the new additions. (University of Guelph)

The author behind the heartwarming tale of Anne of Green Gables books tells a much darker story in her personal journals — one that was kept under wraps to all but a select few, until recently. 

In total, Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote 10 journals based on her life in P.E.I, her home province, and her adult life in Ontario, where she reveals the many struggles she faced when she arrived.

Mary Rubio, a retired professor from the University of Guelph who's done extensive work on Montgomery's life, is currently working on publishing the complete, uncensored, versions of those journals.

One historian said the greatest character that she ever created was not Anne, but was her self.- Mary Rubio

Between 1985 and 2004, Rubio and Elizabeth Waterston published five highly-edited versions of Montgomery's 10 journals.

"We had to cut over 50 per cent of the material in [the journals] because the publisher wasn't sure they would be as popular," Rubio told CBC's Craig Norris in The Morning Edition on Monday.

"It just seemed logical ... to publish the complete journals, put in everything that was taken out, put in the pictures and let the world hear her own story as she tells it with nothing cut out."

So far, four of Montgomery's complete journals have been published. Rubio was in Leaskdale, Ont., where Montgomery lived, on July 5 for the launch of the newest additions, The Ontario Years 1918-1921 and The Ontario Years 1926-1929. 

All 10 original journals have been stored at U of G's McLaughlin Library archives since the 1980s.

Montgomery's struggles

In her Ontario journals, written between 1911 and 1942, Montgomery walks the reader through her life in the early 20th century as she talks about some of her struggles during World War I, women getting the vote and discovering that her husband had a form of mental illness.

"He was manic depressive, but mostly depressive," said Rubio. "He was a minister so they had to conceal the fact that he had depression and mental problems."

"As a minister's wife she couldn't tell people what she really thought," she adds.

Despite all that, Rubio said Montgomery was very involved in her community and was remembered by others as a "happy, cheerful person."

Montgomery used the journals to cope with her unhappy life, said Rubio. She believes Montgomery wouldn't have been able to write the happy tale of Anne of Green Gables if it weren't for her journals.

"You'll have an awfully good read," Rubio said about the journals. "One historian said the greatest character that she ever created was not Anne, but was her self."


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