Something about Agatha Christie…

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

Born
15 September 1890(1890-09-15)
Torquay, Devon, England

Died
12 January 1976 (aged 85)
Wallingford, Oxfordshire, England

Occupation
Novelist

Genres
Murder mystery, Thriller, Crime fiction

Literary movement
Golden Age of Detective Fiction

Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller, Lady Mallowan, DBE (15 September 189012 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.

Biography

A plaque from the Agatha Christie Mile at Torre Abbey in Torquay.

A plaque from the Agatha Christie Mile at Torre Abbey in Torquay.

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.

During World War I she worked at a hospital and then a pharmacy, a job that influenced her work. Many of the murders in her books are carried out with poison.

Disappearance

On 8 December 1926, while living in Sunningdale in Berkshire, Agatha disappeared for eleven days, causing great interest in the press. Her car was found in a chalk pit in Newland’s Corner, Surrey.

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.

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.

Her other well known character, Miss Marple, was introduced in The Murder at the Vicarage in 1930, and was based on Christie’s grandmother.

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.

Formula

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.

Critical reception

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

List of works

Novels

Year published
Title
Detectives

1920
The Mysterious Affair at Styles
Hercule Poirot
Arthur Hastings
Chief Inspector Japp

1922
The Secret Adversary
Tommy and Tuppence

1923
The Murder on the Links
Hercule Poirot
Arthur Hastings

1924
The Man in the Brown Suit
Anne Beddingfeld
Colonel Race

1925
The Secret of Chimneys
Superintendent Battle

1926
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
Hercule Poirot

1927
The Big Four
Hercule Poirot
Arthur Hastings
Chief Inspector Japp

1928
The Mystery of the Blue Train
Hercule Poirot

1929
The Seven Dials Mystery
Bill Eversleigh
Superintendent Battle

1930
The Murder at the Vicarage
Miss Marple

1931
The Sittaford Mystery
also Murder at Hazelmoor
Inspector Narracott

1932
Peril at End House
Hercule Poirot
Arthur Hastings
Chief Inspector Japp

1933
Lord Edgware Dies
also Thirteen at Dinner
Hercule Poirot
Arthur Hastings
Chief Inspector Japp

1934
Murder on the Orient Express
also Murder in the Calais Coach
Hercule Poirot

1934
Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?
also The Boomerang Clue
Bobby Jones

1935
Three Act Tragedy
also Murder in Three Acts
Hercule Poirot

1935
Death in the Clouds
also Death in the Air
Hercule Poirot
Chief Inspector Japp

1936
The A.B.C. Murders
also The Alphabet Murders
Hercule Poirot
Arthur Hastings
Chief Inspector Japp

1936
Murder in Mesopotamia
Hercule Poirot

1936
Cards on the Table
Hercule Poirot
Colonel Race
Superintendent Battle
Ariadne Oliver

1937
Dumb Witness
also Poirot Loses a Client
Hercule Poirot
Arthur Hastings

1937
Death on the Nile
Hercule Poirot
Colonel Race

1938
Appointment with Death
Hercule Poirot

1938
Hercule Poirot’s Christmas
also Murder for Christmas
also A Holiday for Murder
Hercule Poirot

1939
Murder is Easy
also Easy to Kill
Superintendent Battle

1939
And Then There Were None
also Ten Little Indians
also Ten Little Niggers

1940
Sad Cypress
Hercule Poirot

1940
One, Two, Buckle My Shoe
also An Overdose of Death
also The Patriotic Murders
Hercule Poirot
Chief Inspector Japp

1941
Evil Under the Sun
Hercule Poirot

1941
N or M?
Tommy and Tuppence

1942
The Body in the Library
Miss Marple

1942
Five Little Pigs
also Murder in Retrospect
Hercule Poirot

1942
The Moving Finger
also The Case of the Moving Finger
Miss Marple

1944
Towards Zero
Superintendent Battle
Inspector James Leach

1944
Death Comes as the End

1945
Sparkling Cyanide
also Remembered Death
Colonel Race

1946
The Hollow
also Murder After Hours
Hercule Poirot

1948
Taken at the Flood
also There is a Tide…
Hercule Poirot

1949
Crooked House
Charles Hayward

1950
A Murder is Announced
Miss Marple

1951
They Came to Baghdad
Victoria Jones

1952
Mrs McGinty’s Dead
also Blood Will Tell
Hercule Poirot
Ariadne Oliver

1952
They Do It with Mirrors
also Murder with Mirrors
Miss Marple

1953
After the Funeral
also Funerals are Fatal
also Murder at the Gallop
Hercule Poirot

1953
A Pocket Full of Rye
Miss Marple

1954
Destination Unknown
also So Many Steps to Death

1955
Hickory Dickory Dock
also Hickory Dickory Death
Hercule Poirot

1956
Dead Man’s Folly
Hercule Poirot
Ariadne Oliver

1957
4.50 from Paddington
also What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw!
also Murder She Said
Miss Marple

1958
Ordeal by Innocence

1959
Cat Among the Pigeons
Hercule Poirot

1961
The Pale Horse
Inspector Lejeune
Ariadne Oliver

1962
The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side
also The Mirror Crack’d
Miss Marple

1963
The Clocks
Hercule Poirot

1964
A Caribbean Mystery
Miss Marple

1965
At Bertram’s Hotel
Miss Marple

1966
Third Girl
Hercule Poirot
Ariadne Oliver

1967
Endless Night

1968
By the Pricking of My Thumbs
Tommy and Tuppence

1969
Hallowe’en Party
Hercule Poirot
Ariadne Oliver

1970
Passenger to Frankfurt

1971
Nemesis
Miss Marple

1972
Elephants Can Remember
Hercule Poirot
Ariadne Oliver

1973
Postern of Fate
final Tommy and Tuppence
last novel Christie wrote
Tommy and Tuppence

1975
Curtain
Poirot’s last case, written four decades earlier
Hercule Poirot
Arthur Hastings

1976
Sleeping Murder
Miss Marple’s last case, written four decades earlier
Miss Marple

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:

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.

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About thomaszhu

"In the designs of Providence. There are no mere coincidences."
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2 Responses to Something about Agatha Christie…

  1. 大居士说道:

    不过,我觉得这个老太太的戏真的很无聊也。

  2. lin说道:

    en,其实很多人都知道她的一些作品,只是不知道是她写的,像尼罗河上的惨案,东方快车谋杀案等等。 很多产,而且并不是重复克隆。可惜,她没有写的更多一点,基本上全都读完了。还好科南有三四百集可以看:D

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