Picturing the bo(a)orders: graduating, in 1969, after three years at St. Catherine’s School for Girls in Richmond, Virginia, and composing a life between the lines.
In the summer of 1968, my mother and I made a pilgrimage to Prince Edward Island, Canada, the setting and inspiration for L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. PEI felt like home; I vowed to return. Secretly that fall, I applied to only one college: Prince of Wales College, L.M. Montgomery’s alma mater, in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. After our June 1969 graduation and much too late to apply anywhere else, I received a letter telling me PWC no longer existed but I could come to the newly amalgamated University of Prince Edward Island if I wished. Yikes! But of course I went and was so early that I was the very first student to register at the new school.
Except for the time I spent in England doing a Ph.D., I stayed in Canada and became a Canadian citizen; taught English literature for thirty years in two universities; founded a research institute in 1993 devoted to the study and informed celebration of Montgomery’s life, works, culture, and influence (www.lmmontgomery.ca); wrote books and articles on Anthony Trollope and on Montgomery; and eventually served as the first woman president of the University of Prince Edward Island (www.elizabethepperly.com). I became Professor Emerita of English in 2007 and received an honorary doctorate ten years later. That is the black-and-white snapshot. The colour version has warmth and a laugh track.
When I graduated from St. C., I thought I would be a writer of fiction and a geologist. I imagined I would live again in Virginia. I assumed I would probably get married and have children of my own. I am so glad life has surprised me again and again! I still love fiction and rocks, and my partner (of almost 30 thirty years) and my step children and step grandchildren remind me every day that Wordsworth was right: we do half create what we perceive. The other half is a gift.