Elizabeth Rollins Epperly was born in 1951 on her mother’s birthday in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Her parents were passionate readers and read aloud for years to their children. A fascination with L.M. Montgomery’s writing led her to Prince Edward Island in Canada, where she became in 1969 the first student to register at the newly amalgamated University of Prince Edward Island.
She graduated with degrees in English literature (B.A., UPEI; M.A., Dalhousie University; Ph.D., University of London in England), specializing in 19th Century British novels and poetry. She taught at Memorial University of Newfoundland and UPEI. At UPEI, she founded the L.M. Montgomery Institute, served as UPEI’s first woman president, became a Professor Emerita of English, and was awarded an honorary doctorate.
She published two books on Anthony Trollope before daring, in 1992, to publish The Fragrance of Sweet-Grass, the first full-length critical study of all Montgomery’s novels. Since then, in addition to dozens of essays and book chapters, she has published books on Montgomery’s photography, scrapbooks, letters, and Canadian context.
She has served as curator for real-time and virtual Montgomery exhibitions and has pursued Montgomery research in Sweden, Japan, Spain, Scotland, and China as well as in the US and Canada.
The biennial international L. M. Montgomery Institute conferences, which she began in 1994, are credited with anchoring Montgomery studies.
Power Notes: Leadership by Analogy, a creative memoir describing her university presidency (published in 2017), is an invitation to consider power and story in new ways.