Agatha Christie has been called the best-selling novelist of all time. “The Guiness Book of World Records” states that her popularity ranks third with the general public, topped only by the Bible and William Shakespeare. She is best known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections that were written under her own name. The author also wrote six successful romance novels under the name of Mary Westmacott. Two billion copies of her works have been sold, with one billion written in English, and another billion translated into 103 foreign languages.
Agatha Christie - Wikimedia
Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born in 1890 in the town of Torquay in Devon, which is in the southwestern part of England. She was the youngest child, having an older brother and an older sister. She was educated at home by her mother who encouraged Agatha in her writing. Her mother was British and her father, an American, died when Agatha was only ten years old. When she was 16, Agatha was sent to Paris to study voice and piano, a lifelong interest of hers.
Her First Marriage
Agatha Christie’s first husband was Colonel Archibald Christie, a Royal Air Force Pilot, whom she married in 1914. She worked as a nurse during World War I. The couple enjoyed surfing, a sport which women did not usually undertake. They visited several countries including Australia, South Africa and Hawaii in order to indulge their sport. Agatha and Archie had one daughter, Rosalind. During the Second World War, Agatha worked in a hospital pharmacy in London where she learned a lot about poisons and used that knowledge in her crime novels thereafter.
Archibald Christie - Wikimedia
Her First Publication - With Hercule Poirot
In 1920, she was able to publish her first novel “The Mysterious Affair at Styles” where she introduced one of her most famous characters, the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. When Hercule Poirot died, the New York Times published his obituary on the front page. It was the only time a fictional character’s obituary received such an honor.
Miss Jane Marple
Agatha Christie’s other famous character, Miss Jane Marple, debuted in the novel “Murder at the Vicarage” in 1930. The character was portrayed on film by Angela Lansbury, Margaret Rutherford and Helen Hayes. The author claimed that she patterned Miss Marple after her maternal grandmother.
David Suchet (Hercule Poirot) Wikimedia
The End of Their Marriage
In 1926, Agatha’s mother died, and her sorrow was compounded by the fact that her husband Archie revealed that same year that he was in love with another woman, Nancy Neele. Agatha disappeared mysteriously after her husband’s confession and was missing for 11 days. The police organized fifteen thousand volunteers to search the surrounding countryside. She was eventually found at a hotel in Yorkshire where she had registered under the name of Miss Teresa Neele, using her husband’s lover’s surname. She attributed her aberration to amnesia, which could not be proven. Agatha and Archie divorced in 1928. Agatha received custody of their daughter Rosalind and also the right to use the name Christie as the author of her books.
The year 1926 saw the publication of “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” which is regarded as the single greatest whodunit ever written. It is one of the author’s fans’ all-time favorites and features Hercule Poirot as the detective.
Agatha and Max Mallowan - Wikimedia
Agatha and Max
In 1930, Agatha Christie married archeologist Max Mallowan and traveled with him on his many expeditions, helping with the digging and cataloging of the finds on their trips. He was fifteen years younger than she. She chronicled her travels with Max in the Middle East in her 1946 book "Come, Tell Me How You Live." They were happily married and the marriage lasted until Agatha’s death in 1976. It is interesting, however, that Max married his assistant, Barbara Hastings Parker, a year after Agatha died.
Mousetrap - Wikimedia
Agatha’s play “The Mousetrap” holds the record for the longest unbroken run of a production in a London theater. It originally opened at the Ambassador Theater in 1952 and has had almost 9000 showings in the past 64 years and is still running. The play is based on her short story entitled “Three Blind Mice.”
In 1939, Agatha Christie released her novel “And Then There Were None,” which is the best-selling crime novel of all time. It was adapted as a play in 1943, and is also called “Ten Little Indians.”
Most Popular Novels
Agatha Christie’s novels which have become TV movies are too numerous to mention. The most notable one was “Murder on the Orient Express,” adapted for the screen in 1974. Her novels which are considered the most popular include the following: “And Then There Were None,” “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd,” “Murder on the Orient Express,” “Death on the Nile,” “A Murder is Announced,” “Sad Cypress,” “Curtain” “Five Little Pigs,” “Evil Under the Sun,” “Crooked House,” “Murder in Mesopotamia,” “The Hollow,” “The A.B.C. Murders,” “The Mystery of the Blue Train,” and “Peril at End House.”
Dame Agatha Christie
In 197, Agatha received England’s highest honor, the Order of the British Empire, Dame Commander, which entitles her to be referred to as Dame Agatha Christie. Her success as the author of detective stories has gained for her the titles of “Queen of Crime,” and “Queen of Mystery.” Five of her books have been turned into computer games.
Moorlands House - Where Agatha Christie wrote her first crime novel - Wikimedia
Her Romance Novels
She should not be forgotten as the author of six romance novels under the pseudonym of Mary Westmacott. They are: “Absent in the Spring,” “The Burden,” “Unfinished Portrait,” “A Daughter's A Daughter,” “The Rose and the Yew,” and “Giant's Bread.”
The End of Her Career
The last two novels that were published were “Curtain” (chronicling Hercule Poirot’s last case), and “Sleeping Murder” (the last Miss Marple novel). She wrote both books in the 1940s and then locked them in a safe deposit box. “Sleeping Murder” was published posthumously, and “Curtain” was published shortly before her death. The last novel that she wrote and published in her lifetime was “Postern of Fate,” released in 1973.
The author made her last public appearance in 1974 for the opening night of the play version of “Murder on the Orient Express.” She has been one of my favorite writers for decades and the reason why I navigate towards murder mysteries for entertainment.
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