Plagiarism, L. M. Montgomery, and the Author Multiverse

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L. M. Montgomery frequently borrowed from other authors, sometimes in problematic ways. Does she still deserve her spot in the literary canon? Here’s my take on the matter.

Collage of red cliffs of Prince Edward Island and book covers of Emily of New Moon, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, and Anne of Green Gables

Shared Fictional Universes in Literature

I love shared universes in literature, where separate books or short stories by the same author are linked by mutual characters, locations, or background lore. One of my earliest experiences of this was when I discovered, to my delight and excitement, that characters from Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time series were also referenced in her Austin Family Chronicles. These were separate series, but because of the crossovers, clearly existed in the same universe.

Off the top of my head, here are a few other examples of shared literary universes:

  • H. P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, laced across multiple short stories and novellas
  • Ray Bradbury’s Green Town novels
  • Wendell Berry’s Port William novels
  • William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County novels
  • Agatha Christie’s mystery novels (numerous crossover characters and references throughout her corpus)

As a reader, it’s very satisfying and fun to make these connections between an author’s standalone works. And it must be fun for the author to drop “Easter eggs,” or to flesh out an imaginary space where all their characters and places exist together.

The Author Multiverse

The more books I’ve read the more I’ve come to envision that there’s an overarching multiverse that all authors participate in, sometimes unwittingly, sometimes knowingly–usually a combination of both.

The author multiverse is the millennia-old web of stories that all authors contribute to, with every short story, poem, and novel they write. It’s the idea that there is “nothing new under the sun,” that every writer builds on the writers that came before them, and that they will in turn influence and inspire future authors.

Just like it’s fun to explore a single author’s shared universe among their works, it’s fascinating to trace the influence of different authors across different works. Knowing that Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins were close friends, I enjoy speculating how Dickens’s works were shaped by Collins’s style and thematic elements, and vice versa.

Charlotte Brontë was clearly influenced by romantic poets such as Byron, Shelley, and Wordsworth. In turn, her novel Jane Eyre became a touchstone for future gothic and romantic novels, with conscious homages or subversions in famous works like The Turn of the Screw by Henry James and Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.

The works of C. S. Lewis echo (sometimes quite strongly) so many of the authors he loved and respected: George Macdonald, J. R. R. Tolkien, Edith Nesbit, H. G. Wells, and Charles Williams, to name a handful.

More recently, you’ve got books like J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, which takes inspiration from Roald Dahl as well as Ursula K. Le Guin’s wizarding school in A Wizard of Earthsea.

Was L. M. Montgomery a Plagiarist?

Much as I love seeing the connections between different authors and their books, I had a very different and shocking experience when I discovered that one my favourite authors, Lucy Maud Montgomery, in fact seemed to have crossed the line into plagiarism of another author’s work.

When I first read Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin, I was incensed that Wiggin had so blatantly copied Montgomery’s novels. How unoriginal and lazy! But a quick check proved it was the other away around. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm was published in 1903. Anne of Green Gables, Montgomery’s first novel, was published in 1908.

The two novels bear many similarities to each other, starting with their titles. Both books are about young, precocious girls who go to live with staid, elderly adults. Both heroines enter their new worlds via a carriage ride where they chatter incessantly to a polite listener (an elderly man who becomes their confidant and develops a soft spot for the heroine). Both girls get into scrapes, make a loyal best friend next door (who doesn’t match them for imagination), meet a lady teacher-cum-mentor, and eventually navigate high school. There are even specific pieces of dialogue and phrases in Anne of Green Gables that are almost a match for quotes in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.

So there’s all that. But perhaps this is all just par for the course for the girls’ fiction genre that was coming of age at the turn of the century? Perhaps. But the fatal blow comes when you compare Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm with Montgomery’s Emily trilogy (published 1923, 25, and 27). These stories are even more closely cognated than Anne.

While Rebecca and Anne have similar personalities, dark-haired, mysterious-eyed Emily Starr is a physical replica of Rebecca. Their living situation is even more the same: they both live with two maiden aunts from their mother’s side of the family, who resent the heroine’s father. One aunt is sweet and sympathetic but lacks backbone, the other is strict and carries emotional baggage.

At one point, both Rebecca and Emily decide to run away, and find refuge with a sympathetic older friend (it’s Mr. Cobb for Rebecca, Cousin Jimmy for Emily), who cheer them up with a good talk and give them cookies and doughnuts, respectively. Both girls find that they have trouble remaining angry while eating baked goodies, and decide to return home.

In their preteens, both girls attract the attention of a young (but grown) man, who notes the girls’ Elvin features, showers them with gifts, and hopes to marry them one day.

There are many other similar scenes, phrases, and situations that blur the two stories together.

Black and white photographs of Kate Douglas Wiggin and L. M. Montgomery as young women
Left: Kate Douglas Wiggin, Right: Lucy Maud Montgomery

In spite of these obvious appropriations, I can find no evidence that anyone accused Montgomery of plagiarism. And it’s not as if Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm was unknown; in fact, it was a runaway bestseller. When Anne was published, reviewers did remark on the similarities, but it seems in only a positive way, praising Anne as a “Canadian companion picture to Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.” (Rebecca is set in Maine.)

I don’t know what Wiggins’s thoughts were. She died a few months before the first Emily book was published, and I wonder if perhaps her surviving relatives never read the complete Emily series. (The Rebecca-Emily likeness is played out across the whole Emily trilogy, and doesn’t all appear in the first book.)

At any rate, the correspondence between Wiggins’s work and Montgomery’s baffles me, and it’s the top thing I’d like to ask Montgomery about if I could have tea with her. (Closely followed by asking why she practically ignores Shirley Blythe. Of all of Anne’s children, Shirley never gets the page time afforded to the others!)

Other Instances Where Montgomery Borrowed from Literature

The Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm connection is the most blatant parallel to Montgomery’s work, but I’ve found others as well, thankfully in more modest doses. I have to admit, it is rather fun to be reading a book and come across something that Montgomery took from it–discovering that I’m reading the exact same thing she read! From what I can find, not much has been said or written about Montgomery’s practice of borrowing, so part of my purpose here is to put my findings out there for future researchers. Here are some other books where it appears L. M. Montgomery found material for her stories. (I don’t say that she was plagiarizing from these novels, it just demonstrates that she wasn’t a stranger to borrowing.)

Little Women (1868) and other novels by Louisa May Alcott

This is not a surprise, since Alcott almost single-handedly invented the modern girls-coming-of-age novel as we know it. And today, most readers who love Little Women and Jo March invariably love Anne of Green Gables and the equally spunky, equally writerly Anne Shirley. Both novels include playacting, schoolroom humiliation, crusty aunts, hair cutting, and other touchpoints.

In Anne of the Island, Montgomery gives Anne and Gilbert a very similar proposal scene to the Jo-Laurie climax. Both heroines find it distressing when their best male friend proposes to them. They turn him down and beg him to be content with the friend zone. In addition, one of Anne’s famous phrases that she is “in the depths of despair” may be taken from Alcott’s An Old-Fashioned Girl, where a character uses this exact phrase.

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell (1853)

In the quaint, Avonlea-style village of Cranford, an eccentric woman makes her visitors walk along a newspaper path to avoid messing up her floors, a comical scene that Montgomery copies in Anne of Avonlea. The climax of Cranford throws one of the main characters into crisis when all their savings are lost due to the failure of a local bank, to which they have been overly loyal. The same scenario is also the climax and turning point in Anne of Green Gables.

Middlemarch by George Eliot (1871)

The whole section about Mr. Featherstone’s estate and will bears resemblance to the central plot of Montgomery’s A Tangled Web. Both involve a bevy of eccentric relatives who must pay court to the crotchety head of the family, who enjoys watching their relatives squirm. The reading of the will brings surprises and throws everyone into a tizzy. George Eliot’s treatment and caricatures of the relatives certainly seems to find an echo in Montgomery’s character sketches and motivations.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1852)

The character Topsy, who often gets into scrapes, confesses to a theft she didn’t actually commit, because her guardian–an elderly spinster who’s attempting to raise her as a Christian–expects her to. Montgomery uses this set up in the famous amethyst broach episode in Anne of Green Gables.

The Country of the Pointed Firs by Sarah Orne Jewett (1896)

This book is set in another Avonlea-style town on the coast of Maine, and like Anne of Green Gables, is made up of episodic-style chapters. Several characters bear resemblance to Montgomery’s creations. The soft-spoken and shy William Blackett is a lot like Matthew Cuthbert, Almira Todd has similarities to Cornelia Bryant from Anne’s House of Dreams, and Captain Littlepage may be partial inspiration for Captain Jim, also from Anne’s House of Dreams. In addition, Montgomery’s iconic term “kindred spirit” may be inspired by Jewett’s use of the phrase.

Of course, there are many other authors and books that inspired Montgomery, not all of which she copied so specifically. She was an avid reader of Sir Walter Scott, but other than Ivanhoe I haven’t read anything by him so I can’t point out specific links (except perhaps for characters named Walter in Montgomery’s novels). Montgomery also loved poetry, inspired by Robert Browning, the Romantic poets, and poetic language from the Bible (see chapter 23 of Jane of Lantern Hill). A project was recently begun to catalogue the books that Montgomery read. It will be fascinating to learn about other possible inspirations as more titles are added!

Was Montgomery Still a Good Writer?

Interesting as it may be to make these connections, I can say honestly that as a lifelong Montgomery fan with great respect for the author, it was also truly a blow to discover her penchant for “borrowing,” especially in the case of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. I am still trying to reconcile myself to this.

But upon interrogating myself I’ve also discovered that I still love her, she’s still one of my all-time favourite authors, and it still brings me great joy to read her books.

L. M. Montgomery has a distinct voice; there is an alchemy in her prose and imagery that turns the prosaic into the sublime. Her books have endured because they connect deeply with readers’ hearts; they enchant the world with beauty and imagination. I’d guess that Anne of Green Gables is more widely read today than Middlemarch or Cranford, certainly more than Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. Her status as a beloved author isn’t going to disappear.

In addition to how her books make readers feel, a closer look shows that Montgomery also possesses a keen insight into human nature, painting it with a subtle, satiric skill akin to Jane Austen. People who have only a superficial familiarity with Montgomery may think that she merely writes “feel good” stories, when in fact the numerous happy endings in her works are almost always bought with a bitter price. Many of her characters (both major and very minor) live through long years of self-inflicted pain or are stymied by their pride or mishandled grief. Montgomery uses omniscient narrator perspective, character dialogue, and other characters’ gossip to lay bare the hearts of the locals, in all their faults and virtues.

Just as Montgomery displayed realistic shades of gray in her Islanders, learning about her own shades of gray as a writer made her more real to me, more human. It took her off the pedestal and prompted me to think more about her journey as a writer. Writing was a love for her, but it was also a financial and career consideration as she learned she could write what would sell well. I’m reminded of Mary Elizabeth Braddon, who didn’t choose between craft and profit. She wrote prolifically to support her large family, but at the same time displayed her literary skill as she modified and probed the tropes of the sensation genre. Montgomery cracked the code on bestselling girls’ fiction, but within that “brand” she never failed to take herself seriously as a writer.

Although Montgomery was a serial borrower or recycler, she invariably brings something fresh to every story she writes. All of her novel heroines share similarities, but each is a clearly distinct person, with demonstrably different personalities and motivations. And in every instance I listed above where Montgomery took from another book, she makes it her own, translating it to her world of Prince Edward Island, overlaying it with her own experiences, and modifying it to perhaps make what she saw were improvements. For instance, it’s interesting to see how she takes the problematic older man/young lady relationship as seen with Adam Ladd and Rebecca and plays the scenario out with Dean and Emily. Or how the spurned lover situation with Jo and Laurie takes a different turn with Gilbert and Anne. Montgomery even does this adjusting and retelling with her own work. If you read the first couple Anne books and then the Emily books back to back, it’s interesting how Montgomery takes several of Anne’s imaginings (like sleeping in the hay under the stars) and makes them reality for Emily.

Lucy Maud Montgomery is much more than just a collector of pieces from other people’s books. Her books are a distillation of her own life; the many, many books and poems she read; and her own brand of fancy, imagination, wish fulfillment, and hope. Conceivably, she even saw her borrowings as homages to the other women authors she admired. Everything she wrote drew on a thick tapestry of inseparable threads, that is perhaps only a little easier for us to pick apart now because we have the perspective of time and the insight of her own journals.

Montgomery’s work is ultimately a unique creation that also converses with the authors of the past, with her present and future readers, and with her own memories and experience of life.

I do believe that Anne of Green Gables still belongs on my 101 best classics list. All of the books on that list contribute to the canon. There is great originality, for sure, but there is also a lot of conversation between these classics. No one but the original Word creates in a void. All of the authors we read and revere are building on each other, giving and taking, adding to the great conversations.

And do you know what we do as readers? We join that conversation when we read, talk about, or teach those books, or write our own. We enter the literary multiverse. We’ll find things we disagree with–with the author’s views, a character portrayal, or the way the author went about their craft. And we find things to emulate–again, with the author’s perspective, a character, or the craft. We’re drawn into this four dimensional space that encompasses book characters and worlds, their authors, and the readers (us). There’s so much more to it than material paper and ink.

And I suppose engaging in this literary multiverse is why I started Tea and Ink in the first place!

I know there are so many devoted Montgomery fans here at Tea and Ink, so please help me out: what do you make of Montgomery’s borrowings? Have you noticed any other examples? What do you think makes her a great writer, still? Join the conversation!

My other blog posts on L. M. Montgomery and Anne

Plagiarism, L. M. Montgomery, and the Author Multiverse
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27 Comments

  1. Hello Elsie! It’s been quite a while since my last comment here! As usual, though, anything about L.Maud Montgomery catches my attention. I understand your worry about the possibility that your1 beloved author was guilty of plagiarism! I agree with your conclusions here. I had never thought of the similarities as plagiarism. I thought of the similarities as just the way it is for certain genres.
    I readily admit that L.Maud Montgomery is my favorite author, but like you, I do not have her on a pedestal. I am always interested in the faith of anyone I admire. L.Maud was a moral person, a church goer, indeed, a minister’s wife, but I don’t know what she truly put her faith in. Religion or “relationship”? I know from reading about her that she was fascinated by the darker side of spirituality. I don’t know how far that went, but it shows up in some of her stories. I did finally acquire the collection of her stories, Among The Shadows. It was not quite as dark as I thought it might be, but she did go “there”. Could this have played a roll in the depression she experienced ( as well as her husband’s chronic issues with major depression)? There was a lot of sadness in her life, right up to the end. She did not enjoy a lot of peace. That makes me sad for her, but her melancholy, as with many artists, is what made her such a wonderful writer! So, while her stories’ structures and themes were much like others, she had a style of writing that felt/feels unique.

    1. My personal take on her general religious views are that she must’ve been a Christian. I think there were a lot of things she disagreed with regarding the theology or Christian culture of her particular setting. I think her perspective shows up in the mouths and minds of her characters, particularly children. I believe she also found a lot of spiritual solace in nature and in her vocation as a writer. I’m sure you’ve noticed these things as well! I think she was a sort of “There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio, / Than are dreamt of in your philosophy” type of person (to quote Hamlet). When I read her books, it truly seems like God was alive to her, and her faith was real. Perhaps her “style” of faith was another thing she treasured that her relatives or acquaintances didn’t understand, like the way her husband did not understand or regard her writing. There is indeed so much melancholy and sadness in her books, and I’ve learned a bit about what a difficult life she had in some ways, and her battle with depression. But her fiction is also so charged with hope! So many second chances, and pressing onward and upward. I think she had the gift of seeing beauty and transcendence in the ugly and the ordinary, and there is so much depth to her vision of this that I’m convinced it was also rooted in Truth.

  2. I notice you didn’t bother to address the Blue Castle/ The Ladies of Missalonghi controversy at all which is interesting because if there’s a case of plagiarism to be made it’s that one.

    1. I am aware of the controversy over Colleen Mccullough’s book, but I didn’t comment because I haven’t read it for myself! That could be an interesting topic for a future blog post, along with other authors and books who have potentially borrowed from LMM. As it is, this post was already getting rather long and I had to pick and choose how many new trains of thought to include.

  3. Well, I’m quite relieved that the grounds for plagiarism are no more serious than what you have described. I think it’s a simple matter of using common tropes and motifs. If Montgomery is guilty of this charge, Bill Watterson is far more so with Calvin and Hobbes, because he uses SO MANY themes and motifs in his comics, which makes them so much more universal.
    I think Montgomery is a better writer than Wiggins. If she did read Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, I can imagine her response: “Hold my tea.”
    Not only did she write better, she wrote more. The schoolgirl romance theme that was lost to Jo was triumphantly satisfying in Anne, and readers are happier for it. The bank failure in Cranford (which I am currently listening to) was surely not an isolated experience, though it is less common in literature than it probably was in life.
    May you be at peace loving Montgomery’s work with a higher appreciation of what she accomplished more beautifully than many of her peers or those who came before her.

    1. Yes, I think I agree that Montgomery was a better writer than Wiggin–although as I’ve learned a little bit more about Wiggin I’ve come to appreciate her as a person and author. I certainly like Montgomery better, as a matter of personal preference! To me, the similarities between Montomgery’s work and Rebecca of Sunnybrook are more than just common tropes. If you look at any of the books on my “Books Like Anne of Green Gables” post, those share common tropes and motifs. The resemblance of Rebecca’s story to Anne’s and Emily’s go beyond that, to matching scenes and dialogue, as well as all the little plot circumstances that add up. But like you felt, I can’t help but get the sense that Montgomery must’ve read Wiggin’s book and thought “here’s something I can do better!”

  4. Great article!
    Have a loot at Sarah Orne Jewett’s “A Country Doctor,” (1884), which is about an imaginative orphan named Nan who is taken in by the hazel-eyed Dr. Leslie and his flinty housekeeper, Marilla, but loves nothing better than the outdoors, etc. etc
    And 1000% agree re: Shirley.

    1. Oh, fascinating! I haven’t read A Country Doctor, but I love Jewett so that’s on the list! I had no idea about Marilla and orphan Nan! And I’m glad someone else feels the same way about Shirley. That’s such a mystery to me. I know Shirley was perhaps closer`to Susan than to Anne, but that still doesn’t explain why Montgomery left him out!

  5. This is certainly an interesting topic. I was not aware of a lot of these parallels. I actually found a very interesting work several years back which I thought you might be interested in, it’s called “Anne’s Anthology: Following the footnote trail” and it’s a collection of all the poems referenced in the first Anne book. That might be something for you to look at. It’s certainly an interesting collection to have, and it was very fascinating to see all the hidden references in the book that early readers would likely have recognized. What made me think of it was the fact that there is a poem (I don’t remember title or author) that uses the phrase “kindred spirit”, which is something you referenced in your post.

    1. I would love to get my hands on a copy of that! Thank you for the recommendation! When I first read the Anne series I thought LMM must’ve made up the term kindred spirit, and was surprised when I learned (just a few years ago!) that that wasn’t the case! I know Jewett didn’t make it up, either, but since Montgomery was a fan of Jewett’s I thought maybe that’s where she got it from. But here’s something interesting: https://englishforstudents.quora.com/What-is-the-origin-of-the-term-kindred-spirit. So maybe it originated with Isaac Watts.

  6. I think you hit the nail on the head when you made the comment that “Although Montgomery was a serial borrower or recycler, she invariably brings something fresh to every story she writes.” The idea that a story has to be completely original or separate from its predecessors is actually fairly new in the literary world (a byproduct of the Romantic movement, or so I’ve heard). For more of history preceding that, authorial skill was not ranked on whether the writer came up with something new, but on how well they were able to reshape existing material. Take Tolkien, for instance. His “Hobbit,” lifts scenes directly from “Beowulf,” “Volusunga Saga,” “Hrolf Kraki’s Saga,” “The Ring of the Nibelung” opera, and The Poetic and Prose Eddas (as well as lifting several character names and even whole characters straight from them). And many of the most prominent and beloved authors, when you look closely enough, are less totally their own sources and more a creatively-reworked and developed collage of preexisting material. “Paradise Lost” is a mashup of the Bible and the Genesis A&B manuscripts, while Dante’s “Commedia” is an elaboration on Catholic doctrine with cameos by all the poet’s friends and enemies. I guess reading texts like that, where you expect and accept that the authors are borrowing so much, but still crafting their own unique approach to it, has made me less concerned when it comes to scenarios like this. Perhaps L.M. Montgomery took pieces of Wiggin’s work, but it wasn’t for the sake of replicating it, it was create something new. And since it seems that the similarities did not bother the readers at the time, but rather delighted them, I don’t particularly have a problem with it.

    Another thing that might be a factor is that Wiggin was writing for an American audience, while Montgomery was writing for a Canadian audience. I’m not sure how much readership overlap there would have been or how publishing/circulation operated at the time, but it could also be that readers of one author had limited access to the other, and so having someone more local who wrote a similar work to a popular preexisting series was as close as a reader might be able to get to the original.

    1. That’s very interesting, and something I would like to learn more about! In the instances you mentioned, because the authors were creating epics and mythology, I thought perhaps it was more of a given that they’d be reworking earlier source material–and that their audience was conscious of that and the authors acknowledged it themselves. It seems a little bit less of a “done” thing for a novel to synthesize and retell existing material, especially from another novel that only preceded it by a few years or a couple of decades! But, since Montgomery did take herself quite seriously as an author, perhaps she did also see herself as working with archetypes within the genres of girls’ fiction or regionalism? That seems like a bit of a stretch, but I’d like to excuse her because I love her books!

      Along the lines of authors finding inspiration from each other, just the other day I was reading about Fitzgerald’s influences for Gatsby, and what he owes to Cather’s A Lost Lady and Wharton’s Glimpses of the Moon! I suppose it’s impossible to detangle all the threads of inspiration that make up a book! As a reader, it’s fascinating to take it all in and see what you can learn about these authors and the books they wrote that you love. And where that line is, if you can even draw it, between inspiration/homage and plagiarism/derivativeness.

  7. I am a huge fan of all things Montgomery, and found this article a very interesting read!
    Your blog never fails to give me something new to think about, and as a fellow lover of all things literature and, especially, Anne Shirley, I always leave feeling inspired by your Anne/L. M. Montgomery posts in particular!

    Keep up the good work:)

  8. Wow! This is FASCINATING, and I had no idea! I’m particularly fascinated by the fact that it was barely commented on at the time (and, when it was, it was a positive rather than a negative). I wonder if perhaps today’s readers are more attuned to plagiarism and similarities between texts – helped along by being able to Google and bring information to your fingertips at the tap of a button. That, and copyright legislation has informed a bit of a cultural shift in our view of intellectual property and ownership of ideas. I’m going to have to read and think more about this – thank you!

    1. I know, I can’t help but think there must’ve been some significant shifts in the way we regard plagiarism over the last century. But still, there have been lawsuits and controversies over plagiarism well before LMM’s time! Also, something I didn’t mention in the post but has since occurred to me is that maybe there wasn’t more of a “to-do” over this because Montgomery wasn’t (yet) taken very seriously as a writer. Critics would’ve acknowledged her as a bestseller, but the whole genre of “girls’ fiction” or “women’s fiction” she was writing in wasn’t given much literary credit by some folks. So it wouldn’t have been a big deal to those same people if her books looked similar to another in the same genre.

      On the flip side, my guess is that some Montgomery scholars today want to ignore the potential plagiarism because they feel like if they countenance it, Montgomery will lose some of the literary standing they’ve worked so hard to argue for her. I think she has a ton of literary merit regardless of the Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm connection, and that scholars shouldn’t be afraid to explore even the problematic aspects of her books. I think she can handle it(:

  9. Oh my goodness…. this is EXACTLY the topic we discuss in our upcoming episode of The Gibson Girl Review podcast (which was recorded just a couple days before you shared this post!) — we review Rebecca and discuss the shocking similarities found in LMM. The episode releases on May 30th, if you’d care to listen! We’re on all streaming services. 🤓📚❤️

  10. I settled stumbled down the dark wormhole of Montgomery likely being a plagiarist myself about a year ago when I read “The Indifference of Juliet” by Grace S Richmond. The plot of the novel was strikingly similar to two of Montgomery’s short stories, “The Bride is Waiting” and “Miss Sally’s Letter,” and I was absolutely convinced that Richmond knocked off Montgomery (my childhood literary idol) until the publication dates made it apparent that it was the other way around. As you wrote, Montgomery did put her own stamp on what she borrowed and was undoubtedly an excellent writer, so it is a pity that she resorted to borrowing from others.

    1. Oh, thank you for those additions! I will have to read that novel and LMM’s stories. I have read very few of LMM’s short stories at this point, so that is a whole realm I’m unfamiliar with, content-wise.

  11. A lot of her short stories were later repurposed for her novels (and vice versa). The example I mentioned above was the first time I ever noticed a plot being lifted from somewhere else, but then again, I have only read a small amount of turn of the century romance novels that she could have possibly drawn inspiration from.

  12. I had no idea there were so many similarities between Montgomery’s work and other authors! I had recognized the Jo-Laurie vs. Anne-Gilbert proposal as being oddly the same. My only exposure to the Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm storyline was the Shirley Temple movie watched once as a child. I’ll have to read the book! I have read the Emily books a couple of times and enjoyed them. But Anne has been a kindred spirit for so long that for my part I frankly don’t care where LMM drew her inspiration. She made things her own!

    1. I haven’t seen the Shirley Temple movie, but from what I understand it is vastly different from the book! Rebecca of Sunnybrook is a good book in its own right, so definitely give it a read. It will forever be odd to me why LMM copied so closely and got away with it, but gosh–I’m still glad she wrote!

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