PEI

New online exhibit offers close-up look at original Anne of Green Gables manuscript

Thanks to a new digital exhibition launched Thursday by the Confederation Centre of the Arts, people have a chance to dive deeper into L.M. Montgomery’s original Anne of Green Gables manuscript. 

'Every pen stroke and scribble, every edit and revision'

A manuscript on display behind glass.
The original Anne of Green Gables manuscript is typically displayed only a few pages at a time, but it will now be entirely accessible online. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

Thanks to a new digital exhibit launched Thursday by the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown, people have a chance to dive deeper into L.M. Montgomery's original Anne of Green Gables manuscript. 

The interactive website allows people to explore the original text, including what was written on the backs of pages and revisions of famous moments in the novel. 

The website also features material never seen before online, like Montgomery's original publishing contract, said Emily Woster, who curated the exhibition. 

"From your first moment entering the site, you'll be invited to explore every intriguing detail of the digitized manuscript. Every pen stroke and scribble, every edit and revision and every intriguing mystery or lingering question," Woster said.

A woman stands in an art gallery, smiling at the camera.
Emily Woster, an L.M. Montgomery scholar, says she was honoured to be a part of the online project, which took over two years to put together. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

The project has been more than two years in the making, said Woster, who is also an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota Duluth and a researcher with the L.M. Montgomery Institute at the University of Prince Edward Island. 

The exhibit is co-presented by the institute, the Confederation Centre, and UPEI's Robertson Library, with funding from Digital Museums Canada. 

Working alongside a team made up of more than a dozen people, Woster said she spent hundreds of hours annotating pages of the manuscript with text, images and helpful commentary. 

"It really was a huge effort but I think the final product is really worth it," she said. 

A screenshot of the Anne of Green Gables online manuscript, showing the page of the manuscript with annotations.
A look at one of the pages of the manuscript, which includes annotations of text, photo, video and notes by L.M. Montgomery. (Confederation Centre of the Arts)

The 1,142-page manuscript has been entirely digitized, and people can scroll through the pages, which are accompanied with photos, videos and audio annotations. 

There are also 24 articles written by authors from 15 different countries, exploring everything from the book's international impact to the history of the Island that inspired the beloved series. 

The original manuscript is housed at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Charlottetown, but Woster said typically only a few pages are displayed at a time. 

Woster said it's rare to have a manuscript from the early 1900s completely digitized online, especially with such a wide variety of archival content alongside it. 

"This is one of its kind, which is really exciting," she said. 

A man stands in the hallway of an art gallery, smiling at the camera.
Philip Smith, chair of the L.M. Montgomery Institute, says the online exhibit will give people a chance to learn more about and celebrate the famous Island author. (Stacey Janzer/CBC)

There are still some mysteries that remain, like the meaning of several numbers visible on the manuscript, or even pinning down the exact date the manuscript was written, Woster said. 

"There's always something new to find or learn about Montgomery or about Anne." 

This project is the perfect example of the main goals of the L.M. Montgomery Institute, said Philip Smith, chair of the institute, which helped present the exhibit. 

The institute is motivated to promote research into the life and work of Montgomery, and celebrate her life — both of which are done with the digital exhibit, said Smith. 

"People across the world have an opportunity to delve into the manuscript and to really get a better understanding of Montgomery's writing process, [and] the details of how she approached the work," he said.

Smith said the project builds on decades of scholarship into Montgomery's life, and is a chance for scholars, fans and even people new to Montgomery's work to further explore the process behind Anne of Green Gables

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story said the manuscript was from the 1800s. It is from the early 1900s.
    Jan 20, 2023 5:54 PM AT

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Safiyah Marhnouj is a reporter with CBC P.E.I. She is a 2022 Joan Donaldson scholar and recently graduated from Carleton University’s journalism program. You can reach her at safiyah.marhnouj@cbc.ca.

With files from Stacey Janzer

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now