Book on L.M. Montgomery scrapbooks saved from going out of print

About a decade ago Elizabeth (Betsy) Epperly released a book chronicling the collections found in L.M. Montgomery's scrapbooks. Now she has reimagined Imagining Anne: The Island Scrapbooks of L.M. Montgomery. The book has been reissued.

Author refreshes book originally written in 2008

Elizabeth Epperly is the founder of the L.M. Montgomery Institute and says she will never forget the feeling she got when she first laid eyes on a Montgomery scrapbook in 1978. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC)

About a decade ago Elizabeth (Betsy) Epperly released a book chronicling the collections found in L.M. Montgomery's scrapbooks.

Now she has reimagined Imagining Anne: The Island Scrapbooks of LM Montgomery. The book has been reissued and was recently launched at UPEI.

"I didn't even know it was going out of print," Epperly said.

She asked the former publisher if she could get the remaining books, but was told they were all gone.

Epperly said she couldn't let the book go away and contacted Nimbus Publishing about reissuing the book.

"They were interested right away and we decided to pursue it immediately," she said.

Minor changes

Epperly did make some minor changes, "but we wanted the story to stay the same," she said.

Montgomery's scrapbooks were filled with collages. It was an outlet for her creativity and inspiration for her work, Epperly said.

The cover of the book is different from the orginal. (University of Prince Edward Island)

"This is a book you want people to pick up not so much with reverence, but appreciation, and to flip through — it's fun to look at these pages," she said.

The cover of the book is also new. "It's Montgomery's own red scrapbook cover," she said.

Scrapbooks were falling apart

The whole idea to preserve the scrapbooks came about before Epperly released her original book in 2008. She said back then those who studied Montgomery were worried the scrapbooks would fall apart.

"Every time you opened the cover some little puffs, a little fragment of cloth or of a dried flower would disappear," she said.

So, a photographer took a picture of each page and put them online. Then Epperly took those images and turned it into Imagining Anne.

Epperly said the Montgomery's scrapbooks are full of newspaper clippings, catalog clippings and magazines.

"You look through you see colourful advertisements, cartoons, things that appealed to her, poems that appeal to her and you see of course the puff sleeves — the puff sleeve ball gown she was going to give to Anne of Green Gables," Epperly said.

'Fragments of imagination'

The reason she calls the book Imagining Anne is because as people flip through the book, just like Montgomery did when she was writing Anne of Green Gables, readers can see Montgomery's imagination at work, Epperly said.

"You see the bright fragments of imagination as though they are coming together in a kind of kaleidoscope," Epperly said. "It is just a wonderful treat because you can see art being created on the page."

She said she still remembers the shock of first getting a glimpse of Montgomery's scrapbooks in 1978. "There was this puff of dust that came out of it, too. And [I] opened the cover and went, 'Oh my goodness, here it is.'"

More P.E.I. news

With files from Mainstreet P.E.I.


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