Today I met an Aries girl who happened to be a super fan of Agatha Christie. Since there are seldom people around me known this great writer, the following information could be a convenient way to get into the world of the famous lady.
P.S.: The following information is from Wikipedia.com
Dame Agatha Christie
Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller, Lady Mallowan, DBE (15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976), commonly known as Agatha Christie, was an English crime writer of novels, short stories and plays. She also wrote romances under the name Mary Westmacott, but is best remembered for her 80 detective novels and her successful West End theatre plays. Her works, particularly featuring detectives Hercule Poirot or Miss Jane Marple, have given her the title the ‘Queen of Crime’ and made her one of the most important and innovative writers in the development of the genre.
Christie has been called — by the Guinness Book of World Records, among others — the best-selling writer of books of all time and the best-selling writer of any kind, along with William Shakespeare. Only the Bible is known to have outsold her collected sales of roughly four billion copies of novels. UNESCO states that she is currently the most translated individual author in the world with only the collective corporate works of Walt Disney Productions surpassing her.
Christie’s books were translated into (at least) 56 languages: African, Albanian, Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, Basque, Bengal, Bokmål (Norwegian dialect), Bulgarian, Burmese, Catalan, Chinese, Czech, Croatian, Dannish, Dutch, English, Esperanto, Estonian, Farsi (Persian), Finnish, French, Galician, Georgian, German, Greek (modern), Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Kalaallisut (Western Greenlandic), Kazakh, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Malayalam, Moldavian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Serbo-Croatian, Sinhalese, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian and Urdu.
Her stage play, The Mousetrap, holds the record for the longest initial run in the world, opening at the Ambassadors Theatre in London on 25 November 1952, and as of 2008 is still running after more than 23,000 performances. In 1955, Christie was the first recipient of the Mystery Writers of America‘s highest honor, the Grand Master Award, and in the same year, Witness for the Prosecution was given an Edgar Award by the MWA, for Best Play. Most of her books and short stories have been filmed, some many times over (Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile and 4.50 From Paddington for instance), and many have been adapted for television, radio, video games and comics.
In 1998, the control of the rights to most of the literary works of Agatha Christie passed to the company Chorion, when it purchased a majority 64% share in Agatha Christie Limited.
Agatha Christie was born as Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller in Torquay, Devon, in Great Britain. Her parents were Frederick Alvah Miller, a rich American stockbroker, and Clarissa Margaret Boehmer, the English daughter of a British army captain. She never claimed United States citizenship. Christie had a sister, Margaret Frary Miller (1879 – 1950), called Madge, eleven years her senior, and a brother, Louis Montant Miller (1880 – 1929), called Monty, ten years older than Christie. Her father died when she was eleven years old. Her mother taught her at home, encouraging her to write at a very young age. At the age of 16, she went to Mrs Dryden’s finishing school in Paris to study singing and piano.
Her first marriage, an unhappy one, was in 1914 to Colonel Archibald Christie, an aviator in the Royal Flying Corps. The couple had one daughter, Rosalind Hicks. They divorced in 1928, two years after Agatha discovered her husband was having an affair. It was during this marriage that she published her first novel in 1920, The Mysterious Affair at Styles.
She was eventually found at the Harrogate Hydro hotel, staying under the name of Teresa Neele. Her husband had recently admitted to having an affair with a Nancy Neele. She had suffered the death of her mother and her husband’s infidelity which may have caused a nervous breakdown. She could not recount any information as to her disappearance due to amnesia. Opinions are still divided as to whether this was a publicity stunt. Other suggestions, largely speculation, suggest she was trying to make people believe her husband had killed her in order to get him back for his infidelity. Public sentiment at the time was negative, with many feeling that an alleged publicity stunt had cost the taxpayers a substantial amount of money.
Second marriage and later life
In 1930, Christie married the archaeologist Sir Max Mallowan. Mallowan was 14 years younger than Christie, and a Roman Catholic, while she was of the Anglican faith. Their marriage was happy in the early years, and endured despite Mallowan’s many affairs in later life, notably with Barbara Parker, whom he married in 1977, the year after Christie’s death.
Christie’s travels with Mallowan contributed background to several of her novels set in the Middle East. Other novels (such as And Then There Were None) were set in and around Torquay, Devon, where she was born. Christie’s 1934 novel, Murder on the Orient Express was written in the Hotel Pera Palace in Istanbul, Turkey, the southern terminus of the railway. The hotel maintains Christie’s room as a memorial to the author. The Greenway Estate in Devon, acquired by the couple as a summer residence in 1938, is now in the care of the National Trust. Christie often stayed at Abney Hall in Cheshire, which was owned by her brother-in-law, James Watts. She based at least two of her stories on the hall: The short story The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding, which is in the story collection of the same name, and the novel After the Funeral. "Abney became Agatha’s greatest inspiration for country-house life, with all the servants and grandeur which have been woven into her plots. The descriptions of the fictional Styles, Chimneys, Stoneygates and the other houses in her stories are mostly Abney in various forms."
Agatha Christie’s room at the Hotel Pera Palace, where she wrote Murder on the Orient Express.
In 1971 she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
Agatha Christie died on 12 January 1976, at age 85, from natural causes, at Winterbrook House in the north of Cholsey parish, adjoining Wallingford in Oxfordshire (formerly Berkshire). She is buried in the nearby St. Mary’s Churchyard in Cholsey.
Christie’s only child, Rosalind Hicks, died on 28 October 2004, also aged 85, from natural causes. Christie’s grandson, Mathew Prichard, was heir to the copyright to some of his grandmother’s literary work (including The Mousetrap) and is still associated with Agatha Christie Limited.
Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple
Agatha Christie’s first novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles was published in 1920 and introduced the long-running character detective Hercule Poirot, who appeared in 33 of Christie’s novels and 54 short stories.
During World War II, Christie wrote two novels intended as the last cases of these two great detectives, Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple, respectively. They were Curtain and Sleeping Murder. Both books were sealed in a bank vault for over thirty years, and were released for publication by Christie only at the end of her life, when she realised that she could not write any more novels. These publications came on the heels of the success of the film version of Murder on the Orient Express in 1974.
Like Arthur Conan Doyle with Sherlock Holmes, Christie was to become increasingly tired of her detective, Poirot. In fact, by the end of the 1930s, Christie confided to her diary that she was finding Poirot “insufferable," and by the 1960s she felt that he was "an ego-centric creep." However, unlike Conan Doyle, Christie resisted the temptation to kill her detective off while he was still popular. She saw herself as an entertainer whose job was to produce what the public liked, and what the public liked was Poirot.
In contrast, Christie was fond of Miss Marple. However it is interesting to note that the Belgian detective’s titles outnumber the Marple titles by more than two to one. This is largely because Christie wrote numerous Poirot novels early in her career, while The Murder at the Vicarage remained the sole Marple novel until the 1940s.
Christie never wrote a novel or short story featuring both Poirot and Miss Marple.
Poirot is the only fictional character to have been given an obituary in The New York Times, following the publication of Curtain in 1975.
Following the great success of Curtain, Christie gave permission for the release of Sleeping Murder sometime in 1976, but died in January 1976 before the book could be released. This may explain some of the inconsistencies compared to the rest of the Marple series — for example, Colonel Arthur Bantry, husband of Miss Marple’s friend, Dolly, is still alive and well in Sleeping Murder (which, like Curtain, was written in the 1940s) despite the fact he is noted as having died in books published earlier. It may be that Christie simply did not have time to revise the manuscript before she died. Miss Marple fared better than Poirot, since after solving the mystery in Sleeping Murder she returns home to her regular life in St. Mary Mead.
On an edition of Desert Island Discs in 2007, Brian Aldiss recounted how Agatha Christie told him that she wrote her books up to the last chapter, and then decided who the most unlikely suspect was. She would then go back and make the necessary changes to "frame" that person.
Almost all of Christie’s detective stories are whodunits, situated in the English middle or upper class. Usually, an important person is murdered, and a detective (Poirot or Miss Maple) is called on the crime scene. As the plot evolves, all the people involved are interrogated, revealing the circumstances of the murder and possible motives. Often a second and even third murder occurs, typically on a member of staff who has witnessed something about the murder, and who tried to blackmail the murderer. Finally, all suspects are gathered in a meeting, and the detective reveals the logic behind the investigation and eventually the name of the murderer. Often, some ingenious trick is involved.
Agatha Christie was revered as a master of suspense, plotting and characterisation by most of her contemporaries and, even today, her stories have received glowing reviews in most literary circles. Fellow crime writer Anthony Berkeley Cox was an admitted fan of her work, once saying that nobody can write an Agatha Christie novel but the authoress herself.
In popular culture
- Christie has been portrayed on a number of occasions in film and television:
- By Vanessa Redgrave in the 1979 film Agatha
- By Hilda Gobbi in a 1980 Hungarian film, Kojak Budapesten
- By Peggy Ashcroft in a 1986 TV play, Murder by the Book
- By Esme Lambert in The Dead Zone episode "Unreasonable Doubt", transmitted on July 14, 2002.
- By Olivia Williams in a 2004 BBC television program entitled Agatha Christie: A Life in Pictures
- By Aya Sugimoto in a 2006 episode of a Japanese television series called Hyakunin no Ijin in 2006.
- By Fenella Woolgar in "The Unicorn and the Wasp", a 2008 episode of the BBC television series Doctor Who which puts a fanciful spin on her 1926 disappearance.
- By Michelle Trout in the film Lives and Deaths of the Poets (2009).
- The play Murder By Indecision parodies Christie with the character Agatha Crispy.
List of works
The Sittaford Mystery
also Murder at Hazelmoor
And Then There Were None
also Ten Little Indians
also Ten Little Niggers
They Came to Baghdad
also So Many Steps to Death
Collections of short stories
In addition to her novels Christie wrote and published 160 short stories in her career. Almost all of these were written for publication in fiction magazines with over half of them first appearing in the 1920s. They were then published in book form in various collections, some of which were identical in the UK and US (e.g., The Labours of Hercules) and others where publication took place in one market but not the other.
Twelve of the stories which were published in The Sketch magazine in 1924 under the sub-heading of The Man who was No. 4 were further joined into one continuous narrative in the novel The Big Four in 1927. Four further stories, The Submarine Plans (1923), Christmas Adventure (1923), The Mystery of the Baghdad Chest (1932) and The Second Gong (1932), were expanded into longer narratives by Christie (respectively The Incredible Theft, The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding, The Mystery of the Spanish Chest and Dead Man’s Mirror although the shorter versions of all four have also been published in the UK).
Only one short story remains unpublished in the UK in book form: Three Blind Mice (1948) on which a Christie placed a moratorium whilst the stage play based on the story, The Mousetrap, was still running in the West End.
In the US, the stories The Incredible Theft and Christmas Adventure have not been published in book form.
The main collections in both markets are:
- 1924 Poirot Investigates (short stories: eleven in the UK, fourteen in the US)
- 1929 Partners in Crime (fifteen short stories; featuring Tommy and Tuppence)
- 1930 The Mysterious Mr. Quin (twelve short stories; introducing Mr. Harley Quin)
- 1932 The Thirteen Problems (thirteen short stories; featuring Miss Marple, also known as The Tuesday Club Murders in the US)
- 1933 The Hound of Death (twelve short stories – UK only)
- 1934 The Listerdale Mystery (twelve short stories – UK only)
- 1934 Parker Pyne Investigates (twelve short stories; introducing Parker Pyne and Ariadne Oliver, also known as Mr. Parker Pyne, Detective in the US)
- 1937 Murder in the Mews (four novella-length stories; featuring Hercule Poirot, also known as Dead Man’s Mirror in the US)
- 1939 The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories (nine short stories – US only)
- 1947 The Labours of Hercules (twelve short stories; featuring Hercule Poirot)
- 1948 The Witness for the Prosecution and Other Stories (eleven short stories – US only)
- 1950 Three Blind Mice and Other Stories (nine short stories – US only)
- 1951 The Under Dog and Other Stories (nine short stories – US only)
- 1960 The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (six short stories – UK only)
- 1961 Double Sin and Other Stories (eight short stories – US only)
- 1971 The Golden Ball and Other Stories (fifteen short stories – US only)
- 1974 Poirot’s Early Cases (eighteen short stories, also known as Hercule Poirot’s Early Cases in the US)
- 1979 Miss Marple’s Final Cases and Two Other Stories (eight short stories – UK only)
- 1991 Problem at Pollensa Bay and Other Stories (eight short stories – UK only)
- 1997 The Harlequin Tea Set (nine short stories – US only)
- 1997 While the Light Lasts and Other Stories (nine short stories – UK only)
In addition, various collections have been published over the years which re-print short stories which have previously appeared in other collections e.g. Surprise, Surprise! (1965 in the US). On occasion, in among the reprinted material, these collections have sometimes contained the first book printing of an individual story e.g. The Market Basing Mystery in the UK version of Thirteen for Luck! (1966) which later appeared in the same market in Poirot’s Early Cases.