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Agatha Christie

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AgathaChristiePlaque

Image of Agatha Christie from a plaque in Torquay, England.

Agatha Christie (September 15, 1890 – January 12, 1976) was a prolific author. She wrote romantic novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott but is better known as a writer of mysteries. Her works include short stories, plays and eighty detective novels. Many of her detective stories feature either the character Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Agatha Christie is the best selling novelist of all time and, jointly with William Shakespeare, she is the best selling writer of any kind of all time. Roughly 4,000,000,000 copies of her books have been sold. Agatha Christie is the most translated author of all time, her works have been translated into 103 different languages.

There have been several movies based on Christie's novels and short stories. There have also been television specials and series, radio plays, comic books and video games based on her works.

Biography

Agatha Christie as a child No 1

Undated photograph of Agatha Christie as a child.

Christie was born Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller in Torquay, Devon, England on September 15, 1890. She was the youngest of three children of Margaret Boehmer, the daughter of a British Army captain, and Frederick Alvah Miller, an American from New York. She never attended school but was educated by her parents and a nanny who could only speak French. Although her mother did not believe that children should learn to read before the age of eight, the young Agatha Miller taught herself to read at the age of four. She began to make up stories and invent complex imaginary worlds at an early age.

On December 24 1914 she married Archibald "Archie" Christie, an aviator with the Royal Flying Corps. The two had one child, a daughter Rosalind (later Rosalind Hicks). They divorced in 1928, two years after Christie learned that her husband had been having an affair.

Christie's first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles which introduced the character of Hercule Poirot, was published in 1920. During her marriage to Archibald Christie, seven books by Agatha Christie, six novels and a collection of short stories, were published. Several short stories by Christie also appeared in magazines.

Christie at Hydro

The discovery of Agatha Christie alive and well is reported in the London Daily Herald from December 15, 1926.

On December 8, 1926 Archibald Christie announced that he was in love with another woman, Nancy Neele, and wanted a divorce. Following an argument, Archibald Christie left the house. After he left, Agatha Christie wrote a note which said she was going away from her home in Berkshire to visit Yorkshire. Christie then disappeared and was unheard of for eleven days.Christie was already a best-selling novelist and her disappearance was a matter of great public concern. A nationwide manhunt was launched to find her. On December 19, 1926 a guest at a hotel in Harrogate, Yorkshire, who had called herself Mrs. Teresa Neele from South Africa, was identified as Christie. Many people were angered when Christie was found again, believing that her disappearance had been a publicity stunt or an attempt to make people believe that her husband had murdered her. Christie refused to speak about what she had done during the previous eleven days. She remained silent about those missing days for the rest of her life.

In 1930 Agatha Christie married archaeologist Max Mallowman (who became Sir Max Mallowman in 1968). the two remained together until Christie's death in 1976. Christie accompanied Mallowman on archaeological digs to the Middle East and would use those locations as settings for her novels.

Agatha2

Agatha Christie in old age. Photograph taken some time in the 1970s.

During the Second World War Christie worked in the pharmacy at University College Hospital. As a result of her work at the pharmacy, Christie acquired a good knowledge of poisons. Her knowledge was put to use in many of her post-war novels, in which poison is often used as a murder weapon.

Christie was made a Commander of the British Empire in 1956 and a Dame Commander of the British Empire (the female equivalent of a knighthood) in 1971. Christies health began to fail in 1971 but she continued writing. Textual analysis of her later novels by Canadian researchers suggest that she was suffering from Alzheimer's disease or another form of dementia.

Agatha Christie died at the age of 85 on January 12, 1976. Her daughter Rosalind Hicks died in 2004. Copyright on some of Christie's works is currently held by her grandson Matthew Prichard.

Selected works

Hercule Poirot mysteries

  • Death on the Nile
  • Elephants Can Remember
  • Murder in Mesopotamia
  • The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
  • Murder on the Orient Express

Miss Marple mysteries

  • At Bertram's Hotel
  • The Body in the Library
  • The Mirror Crack'd
  • Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories
  • The Murder at the Vicarage

Other mysteries

  • Crooked House
  • The Man in the Brown Suit
  • Murder is Easy
  • The Pale Horse
  • The Seven Dials Mystery
  • They Came to Baghdad

Plays

Agatha Christie and the Eleven Missing Days by Jared Cade is a book about Agatha Christie's mysterious disappearance.

External links

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