Visit with a Friend
By: Phyllis Staton Campbell
Taken from Hobbies and Such
Edgar Guest said it, old friends are best, and although this isn’t strictly true, there is certainly something in it. There’s nothing like a visit with friends that you know so intimately, that you can predict exactly what is going to happen next in their lives. We can ignore these friends for years, yet when we go back to them, they’re waiting, warm, thought provoking, sometimes inspiring, just as they were the day we met them. They are always there at our beck and call; they ask nothing of us; they never judge us, they never change.
Recently, I visited one of those old friends. I first got to know her when I was about ten-years-old when confined to the school infirmary with some childhood plague, possibly measles. Anyhow, she marched in via a Braille volume, that seemed almost as big as I, and a lifelong friendship was forged.
Her name was Anne Shirley (always spell with an E., please) and she lives in a book called “Anne of Green Gables. Yes, these wonderful friends are books.
I hadn’t visited Anne for a long time, hadn’t even thought about the poor thing, I regret to say, until she marched into my office one morning in a somewhat unusual way. Many of you share my delight in the Amazon Echo, that little marvel that seems to do a little bit of everything, including reading some formats of books. For the month of April Amazon was giving away a free read of, you’ve guessed it, Anne of Green Gables.
This was the Audible edition of the book. Audible presents recorded material for a fee, the amount depending on the plan one subscribes to. Now, most of you know how, shall we say frugal, I am, so it will come as no surprise that I don’t subscribe to a paid program when I have NLS, and am already a Book Share subscriber. But something free! You’d better bet I took them up on it. I started to read, and instantly, I was back on Prince Edward Island with Anne, Diana, Gilbert and all the rest. I cried with her when she thought she would be returned to the orphanage, although I knew exactly what was going to happen. I regret to say, that I couldn’t find it in my evil little heart to cry along with her when she accidentally dyed her hated red hair green. Oh what fun we had! Two kids together.
The creator of all this joy and sorrow is Lucy Maud Montgomery, who was born November 30, 1874, Clifton, now New London, in Prince Edward Island, which was to become the setting of many of her novels.
Her mother died of tuberculosis when she was only twenty-one months old. Her father was so completely engulfed in grief that apparently he gave little attention to little Lucy Maud leaving her raising to her maternal grandparents, Alexander Macneil, and Lucy Woolner Macneil.
Although there were many relatives living nearby, her childhood was a lonely one, although the reason for this isn’t quite clear. For whatever reason, she spent much time alone, creating friends and worlds that were hers, and hers alone. This period doubtless developed the creativity that later would develop the writer, who still lives today in the hearts of millions.
At that time the Maritimes were mainly Protestant, and it was only natural that Lucy Maud would be guided by the values of the Protestant work ethic, emphasizing thrift, modesty and hard work. These values are prominent in the characters of Marilla and Matthew, who adopt Anne.
Montgomery knew at an early age that she wanted to be a writer. Below is a passage taken directly from her diary when she had submitted a poem for consideration, at the age of thirteen. "I saw myself the wonder of my schoolmates-a little local celebrity". Upon rejection, Montgomery wrote "Tears of disappointment would come in spite of myself, as I crept away to hid the poor crumpled manuscript in the depths of my trunk",
This sounds so much like the way Anne would express it that I find myself wondering how much of herself Montgomery expresses in the lonely Anne Shirley.
Later, again, in true Anne voice she wrote, “down deep down under all the discouragement and rebuff I knew I would “arrive, some day”. (note I have copied directly including punctuation)
Her first publication, a poem appeared in November of 1890 in the Charlottetown paper, The Daily Patriot.
Like Anne, Lucy Maud taught in various Prince Edward schools. Unlike Anne, she did not especially like teaching. She did like the fact that it eneabled to do the thing she loved, writing. Beginning in 1897, she began to have her short stories published in newspapers and magazines. She had over a hundred stories published during the period of 1897 to 1907. In 1908 Montgomery published “Anne of Green Gables” her first book, and as it turned out it would be her most famous. It was an immediate success, and established her career. Although she wrote numerous sequels, and other unrelated books, short story collections and poetry, it is this first book that comes to mind when one hears the name Lucy Maud Montgomery.
Below is a list of her books available in the NLS collection available in your regional library. Some are sequels to Green Gables, and others appear to be in other series are as stand alone titles.
Anne of Avonlea DB14907
Anne of Green Gables DB56114
Anne of Green Gables DB14670
Anne of Green Gables: three volumes in one DB50475
Anne of Ingleside DB23851
Anne of the island DB14226
Anne of the island DB14226
Anne’s house of dreams DB23805
Emily climbs / DB31703
Emily of New Moon DB28996
Emily’s quest / DB31718
Further chronicles of Avonlea / DB31606
Jane of Lantern Hill DB40703
Rilla of Ingleside DB34118
There are several biographies of Lucy Maud Montgomery available from NLS.
Friend and Fellow Author Phyllis Staton Campbell Loses Battle With Cancer
As many of you may remember, in August 2020, Phyllis had a biopsy, and it showed Uterine Cancer.
On Monday August 24, 2020, she had surgery and afterward, follow up treatment at Augusta Health.
Sadly, Phyllis passed away at approximately 8 AM, January 13, 2021.
To see her obituary please visit: https://www.bearfuneralhome.com/obituaries/Phyllis-S-Campbell?obId=19613464#/obituaryInfo
For information on her books, you may visit: PhyllisStatonCampbellAuthor.com
Also, some of her works are available from the National Library Services for the Blind and Print Disabled site and their download information is listed below.
Phyllis will be deeply missed by all those who knew and loved her.
Patty L. Fletcher