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Prince Edward Island’s breathtaking landscapes and rural community life have inspired numerous authors to great achievement and recognition in poetry and prose. The most famous of these writers is undoubtedly Lucy Maud Montgomery. But Islanders are also proud of having shared an Island home with the likes of Sir Andrew Macphail, Milton Acorn, and many lesser-known but perhaps equally talented authors. They are, among many others: Boyde Beck, F. W. P. Bolger, Lesley Anne Bourne, E. E. Cran, Michael Hennessey, Deirdre Kessler, Frank Ledwell, Ed MacDonald, Hugh MacDonald, Joe Sherman, J. J. Steinfeld, Robert C. Tuck, David Weale, and Wayne Wright. The Island’s most popular writers today include historians, folklorists and storytellers, academics, editors, poets, playwrights, novelists, and journalists.

L. M. Montgomery was born in 1874 in Clifton (New London), Prince Edward Island. Montgomery spent most of her early life at her Cavendish home and, later, in the communities of Bideford, Belmont, and Bedeque, where she taught school. She was educated at Prince of Wales College in Charlottetown and Dalhousie College in Halifax. She also spent a year working at Halifax’s Daily Echo. Young Maud was first published in 1890 when her narrative poem “On Cape Leforce” was printed in a Charlottetown newspaper. In 1904, she began writing her most famous work. She received four rejections before L. C. Page of Boston agreed to publish Anne of Green Gables. Released in 1908, the novel went through six editions and sold 19,000 copies in the first five months. It was during this period that Montgomery also wrote “The Island Hymn,” Prince Edward Island’s provincial anthem that was originally sung to the tune of “God Save the King.” Three years later, Montgomery married Rev. Ewan Macdonald and moved to Ontario, where she lived the rest of her days. Through her years of marriage and motherhood, as she had done since childhood, Montgomery continued to write—diary entries, letters, poems, stories, and novels for children and adults. Today, Montgomery has become a subject of study and numerous books and articles have been published about the author and her work. The L. M. Montgomery Institute on the University of Prince Edward Island campus encourages scholarly research that expands understanding of this Island author and her legacy.

Works of L. M. Montgomery

To listen to “The Island Hymn” click on icon: Music Clef

Sir Andrew Macphail was born in 1864 in Orwell, Prince Edward Island. He was educated in Arts and Medicine at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, and became an important English-Canadian intellectual figure during the period prior to World War I. He was the first editor of the Canadian Sir Andrew MacphailMedical Association Journal and was a well-recognized lecturer, author, social critic, and editor. In his writings and lectures, Macphail denounced Canada’s transformation from rural agrarian societies to urban industrialism. He deplored the disintegration of the family and increasing materialism, class inequality and tension, squalor and unhealthiness of urban slums. His novel The Master’s Wife reveals Macphail’s social philosophy as well as a picture of life in a nineteenth-century Island Scottish-Protestant settlement. It is widely recognized that Macphail’s social criticism stems from his upbringing in Prince Edward Island.

Milton Acorn, “The People’s Poet,” was born in Charlottetown in 1923. He served briefly in World War II, returning home after an injury and was to become one of Canada’s greatest poets,Milton Acorn credited with bringing poetry into the streets. At age 58, after spending most of his writing years in Montreal, Vancouver, and Toronto, Acorn returned to Prince Edward Island, home of his youth and inspiration for his art. He stayed here for the remainder of his life. The passion in his short poems and sonnets reveal Acorn’s love of nature and humanity. His most successful books were I’ve Tasted My Blood (1969, Ryerson), More Poems for People (1972, NC Press), and The Island Means Minago (1975, NC Press) which earned him the Governor Generals Award. In 1970, he received the Canadian Poet’s Award. And, in the year before his death in 1986, Acorn was given a Life Membership to the Canadian Poetry Association and was elected Life Member of the League of Canadian Poets.

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