“I suppose it is because nearly all children go to school nowadays and have things arranged for them that they seem so forlornly unable to produce their own ideas.” ~Agatha Christie
Agatha Christie was born Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller on September 15, 1890. Her mother was the daughter of a British army captain, and her father was a wealthy New York stockbroker. Agatha was raised in Devon, England, and never sought American citizenship. She would grow up to be a prolific and popular British author and playwright best known for her work in the mystery genre. Her characters, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, have become icons of detective fiction.
Agatha was extremely shy, so she was homeschooled while her two older siblings, Madge and Monty, attended private school. Educated in mathematics by her father (http://www.nndb.com/people/583/000026505/), and “[t]aught at home by a governess and tutors, as a child Agatha Christie never attended school. She became adept at creating games to keep herself occupied at a very young age. A shy child, unable to adequately express her feelings, she first turned to music as a means of expression and, later in life, to writing.” (http://christie.mysterynet.com/)
Music and dance had always been an important part of Agatha’s curriculum. In her teenage years, Agatha was trained as a singer and classical pianist. Although talented, she was too nervous to perform in public. Agatha was an avid reader as well, and a great fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, especially his Sherlock Holmes mystery stories. Despite being a poor speller, Agatha’s interest in writing was nurtured by her mother and by neighboring novelist Eden Philpotts. (http://www.nndb.com/people/583/000026505/)
After graduating, Agatha went with her mother on a three month tour of Egypt, which was a fashionable winter vacation spot for the English society of that period. Agatha became intrigued by other cultures and great civilizations of the past. It was here where she developed a lifelong love of archaeology and found background material for a number of her later books.
In 1912, Agatha met an aviator in the Royal Flying Corps named Archibald Christie. They married on Christmas Eve 1914, with Archie heading off to the war in France on Boxing Day. During the First World War, 24-year-old Agatha volunteered as a nurse at a Red Cross hospital, calling nursing “one of the most rewarding professions that anyone can follow.” Three years later she took a post in the pharmacy. There she learned all about pharmaceutical drugs, their preparation and uses – including their lethal dosages, the knowledge of which greatly influenced her writing.
At the end of the war, Agatha wrote her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Despite being rejected by six publishers, it met with unparalleled success after its publication in 1920. The murder by poison was so well described that her book was featured in the official journal of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. The Mysterious Affair at Styles also marked the debut of the character Hercules Poirot, the most popular detective in crime fiction since Sherlock Holmes. Agatha Christie was destined to be known around the world as the “Queen of Crime.”
In a writing career that spanned more than half a century, Agatha Christie wrote eighty novels and short story collections. Her books have been translated into many different languages and have sold over two billion copies. Besides being the best-selling mystery writer of all time, Christie can lay claim to the largest number of published works in history right after Shakespeare and the Bible.
Agatha Christie is the only crime novelist to achieve equal and international fame as a dramatist. She wrote over a dozen plays including “The Mousetrap,” her most famous play of all, which was originally a birthday gift for Queen Mary and is now the longest running play in theatrical history. In addition, Agatha is the only female dramatist ever to have had three plays running simultaneously in London’s West End. Many of Christie’s works have been translated into film, most notably Murder on the Orient Express (1974). Her short stories, plays, and novels have also been adapted to television, radio, and at least one computer game (And Then There Were None, 2005).
Agatha’s most bizarre mystery of all happened in real life, complete with all the elements of a classic Christie story. In December 1926, Agatha’s husband told her that he was seeing someone else and wanted a divorce. After quarreling, Archie left the house and Agatha disappeared. Her abandoned car was found off the road and down a slope, and a massive manhunt was launched. Eleven days later, she was discovered in a spa hotel where she was staying under an assumed name. Christie never was able to explain how she ended up there or what she had been doing. It is thought that she was in a temporary state of amnesia induced by stress and depression, due to her husband’s infidelity and the fact that she had also recently lost her mother.
Christie slowly rebuilt her life, and in 1930 she visited Baghdad. There she discovered romance and adventure with archaeologist Max Mallowan, who proposed to her soon after they met. Their marriage was a happy and lasting one. They went on many archeological digs together, and Agatha’s archeological work also led to her become an expert photographer. All the while she continued to write, both at home and on field trips.
In 1955, Christie received the Mystery Writers of America’s Grand Master Award. In 1958, Agatha accepted the Presidency of the famous Detection Club on the strict understanding that she would never have to make a speech. To honor her many literary works, Agatha was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1971, three years after her husband had been knighted for his archeological work in 1968. They were one of few married couples where both partners were honored in this way.
In addition to her popular mysteries, Christie wrote some lesser known romantic novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott. Agatha Christie also wrote four non-fiction works including an autobiography and Come, Tell Me How You Live, which celebrates the many expeditions she shared with her archaeologist husband Sir Max Mallowan.
Agatha Christie wrote An Autobiography over a period of 15 years: 1950 - 1965. You can read her story in her own words and now you can also hear it in her own voice. A new release of Agatha Christie's autobiography includes a CD of the famous voice recordings she dictated forty years ago. Spread over fourteen tracks, the CD contains over an hour’s worth of material revealing the normally reclusive Agatha telling her own story.
After a hugely successful career, Agatha died peacefully on January 12, 1976. Christie had one child, Rosalind, named after Shakespeare’s heroine from “As You Like It.” Her grandson, Mathew Prichard, has described her as “a person who listened more than she talked, who saw more than she was seen.”
http://www.agathachristie.com - Site run by Agatha Christie's only grandchild. Contains information about the Agatha Christie Society, biography, books and plays, TV, films and film characters. Calendar of Agatha Christie activities and Chatroom.
http://christie.mysterynet.com - All about Agatha Christie, bio, pictures, links to books and movies.
http://www.nndb.com/people/583/000026505 - Agatha Christie biography.
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