Agatha Christie

by Michael from Pennsylvania

Agatha Christie (
Agatha Christie (

Agatha May Clarissa Miller was born in Torquay, England. Agatha,though having two other siblings, grew up essentially an only child (her brother and sister were much older). Her parents feared that she was mentally challenged because she was severely shy, but this was soon dismissed when she displayed how curious she really was.

In 1906, Agatha was sent to a finishing school in Paris, and was a very promising musician. This idea soon faded, though she still loved music. She eventually volunteered in a local hospital and worked in a poison dispensary. This was the source of information for so many poisonings that happened in her novels. She also based her book, THE PALE HORSE, on an experience she had at this poison dispensary.

Many men proposed marriage to her, but she politely declined all of them, until 1912. The next year she met Colonel Archibald Christie and had to write her former fiance, cancelling their wedding. They lived happily and he always encouraged her writing (her first book, THE MYSTERIOUS AFFAIR AT STYLES, had been written at the poison dispensary out of boredom, then rejected by six publishers, and kept in the hands of a seventh for six years, until he decided to publish it; it only sold 2,500 copies). She dedicated her novel, THE MURDER ON THE LINKS, to him.

Eventually, relations between herself and her husband became tense. They were almost always away, but not together. Shortly after her mother's death, Archibald Christie asked Agatha for a divorce. The next thing to happen is still a mystery to this day. Agatha disappeared for eleven days, and was found in a hotel in Harrogate, registered under her husband's lover's name. She claimed amnesia, but some conspiracy theorists say that this was a concerted effort to embarrass her husband.

Agatha considered the divorce a test for her friends. She dedicated her novel, THE MYSTERY OF THE BLUE TRAIN, to the Order of Faithful Dogs, her most loyal friends. Agatha met her next husband during one of her trips to the Middle East. On September 11, 1930, Agatha and the brilliant archaeologist, Max Mallowan, were married, and were almost inseparable for the rest of their lives. Her publishers would not allow her to adopt the name of Mallowan for professional purposes.

Agatha was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1956. She made her final public appearance at the premiere of the movie based on her book, MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS. During WWII, she had written her final novel for her great detective, Hercule Poirot, and her elderly sleuth, Miss Jane Marple. She instructed that these were to be published at the end of her career. CURTAIN was published in 1975, and SLEEPING MURDER in 1976, the year Agatha died. She had a small funeral, at her request. And there, in Cholsey, Berkshire lies the greatest mystery writer of all time, her simple tombstone inscribed with words from Edmund Spenser's THE FAERIE QUEEN:

Sleepe after toyle, port after stormy seas,
Ease after warre, death after life, does greatly please.

Agatha Christie is most likely the greatest mystery writer alive. She created some of the most unlikely sleuths ever, constantly using their abilities in cases that has the readers baffled and turning the pages as quickly as they can read them.

Recommended are all of her books, but especially: THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD, PERIL AT END HOUSE, THIRTEEN AT DINNER, MURDER AT THE VICARAGE,DEATH ON THE NILE, THE SECRET OF CHIMNEYS, ORDEAL BY INNOCENCE, CROOKED HOUSE, THE PALE HORSE, A MURDER IS ANNOUNCED, A POCKET FULL OF RYE, SLEEPING MURDER, and, perhaps her two greatest triumphs, MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS and AND THEN THERE WERE NONE. A wonderful introduction to her writing can be found in THE THIRTEEN PROBLEMS, previously published as THE TUESDAY CLUB MURDERS, and through all of the Miss Marple novels.

Agatha Christie wrote 76 novels, 158 short stories, and 15 plays, all marked with her ingenuity and literary flair. Her novels constantly broke the rules of the Mystery, her detectives broke away from the stereotypes created by Sherlock Holmes and Auguste Dupin, she shattered boundaries no one dared, or even thought of crossing. She did what, perhaps no writer before her could do: she re-invented the Detective Novel. She is, indubitably, the Queen of Mystery.

Page created on 9/4/2011 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 10/25/2019 8:36:11 PM

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