Today I would like to tell you about Agatha Christie. You can probably tell I am a big fan by my username. And if you can't, you will know why I am called MissPoirot after reading this article!
Agatha Christie was a British writer who mainly wrote detective novels. She was out-sold only by the Bible and Shakespeare. She has written 66 detective novels, 14 short story collections, 6 romances and numerous plays. Her novels have sold roughly 2 billion copies and have been translated into at least 103 languages. Not only has she achieved all these amazing things, she was a very special woman too!
Agatha Christie was born on the 15th of September 1890 in Torquay. She herself said that she was very lucky to have had an idyllic childhood. Her mother supported her in everything she did. The bond with her father was also very good, but sadly he passed away when Agatha was 11 years old. Agatha loved reading, and read everything that was put in front of her. When she was a teenager and had the flu, her mother said to her 'if you finished reading everything, maybe you'd better write something'. She and her older sister had a bet, Madge said Agatha could never write a detective novel. Well, she sure proved her wrong!
Around 1912, Agatha was looking for a detective to write about. She was in Torquay one day when a bus with Belgian refugees arrived. Out of this bus came a funny little man with an egg-shaped head and a strange shaped moustache. 'There we are', Agatha said, 'that will be perfect'. And this is how Hercule Poirot was created. The first Poirot novel she wrote was 'The mysterious affair at Styles', 40 more novels and lots more short stories followed, a very well-known Poirot novel, is of course 'Murder on the Orient Express'. The solution is very original and involves morality as to whether Poirot shall let the killers off or not. By the 1940s Agatha was getting a bit sick of Poirot. Poirot is very arrogant and she herself described him as an irritating little man. So, Agatha decided to kill him off. She wrote 'Curtain' Poirot's last case but was persuaded by her publishers that it was a ridiculous idea to kill him off, so the book was put away in a safe and it was published after Agatha died. Poirot dies at the end of 'curtain' and he received a unique literary distinction, he had an obituary in the New York Times. Lots of movies and tv-series have been made based on the Poirot novels, and the actor to have portrayed Poirot best is probably David Suchet. I love the series, my favourite episodes are Five Little Pigs and Curtain. They are both really good and I suggest you guys check them out if you haven't already!
Agatha Christie was the only writer in the 20th century who created two world famous detectives. Miss Marple is a little old spinster lady who lives in a small English village and solves murders, mostly because with her life experience she knows a lot about human nature. She often compares new people she meets to people she knew earlier in her life and this is how she normally unmasks the murderer. These books are completely different than the Poirot novels, but I also enjoy them very much. The Miss Marple books are much sweeter and calmer but with equally brilliant solutions. I think the best actress to have portrayed Miss Marple is Joan Hickson.
Agatha was a nurse in the first world war and during this time she met the soldier Archibald Christie, fell in love with him and married him. She had a daughter with him, Rosalind, named after one of Shakespeare's heroines. When Archie got a job as a financial advisor, Agatha travelled all around the world with him. This was the highpoint of their marriage but when they got home, Agatha started working on her books a lot and Archie spent his days playing golf. At the golf club he met a young woman and he fell in love with her and eventually left Agatha. At around the same time, Agatha's mother passed away. These two events were what lead to the biggest mystery of all surrounding Agatha Christie. Namely, her 11 day disappearance. Agatha Christie disappeared on the 3rd of December in 1926. At the time, she suffered from a mental condition, a form of amnesia, which means that she temporarily forgot who she was. This was caused by stress and sadness. It was in this period that her masterpiece came out, namely 'The murder of Roger Ackroyd'.
Because family was so important to Agatha, she wanted to recreate a family after her husband left her and her mother passed away. She still had her daughter Rosalind of course and a couple of years later she met Max, an archaeologist. This is where a new phase of her life began. Again, she travelled a lot. Especially to the middle East. In this period she stopped writing books with domestic settings and started writing a lot of books that where set in the middle East. 'Murder in Mesopotamia', for example. Agatha really came to love this part of the world and its inhabitants. In her autobiography she wrote: "For I love that gentle fertile country and its simple people, who know how to laugh and how to enjoy life, who are idle and gay, and who have dignity, good manners, and a great sense of humour, and to whom death is not terrible. Inshallah, I shall go there again, and the things that I love shall not have perished from this earth..."
Agatha and Max were both very dedicated to their careers and they lived a happy life together with Rosalind. Their relationship was very loving, it is touching to read the letters she wrote to him. Agatha knew how to play the piano but was too shy to perform, even in front of her family. The only person she dared to play in front of, is Max. Isn't that sweet?
When Rosalind grew up, she had a son, Mathew Prichard, the grandson of Agatha Christie. Agatha was a very private person, she always said 'I am a writer, not a performer.' She didn't think of herself as famous, she simply thought of herself as a writer. Agatha had a home in Devonshire, called Greenway. This is where she spent her holidays, Agatha called it the loveliest place on earth. She came here to read, not to write. She spent a lot of time with her family here, and read her newest books to her family in the library after dinner.
Agatha Christie wrote 6 romances under the name of Mary Westmacott. She wanted to write something other than detective novels and didn't want them to become popular just because of her name. These 6 books received excellent reviews. The book she was most pleased with, is 'Absent in the spring'. Agatha wrote this book in 3 days time. It was the book she had always wanted to write, it was one of her own favourites and she was very proud of it. The book was written about a middle-aged woman who goes off on a trip to visit her daughter and finds herself isolated somewhere near Baghdad. This woman had a very clear image of herself and then when she is all alone her whole life is told little by little through her thoughts. The novel is written lightly but with a building up tension towards the end.
'Absent in the spring', is an amazing and very touching book. Other novels I recommend are 'And then there were none', 'Sleeping murder', 'The murder of Roger Ackroyd' and 'Peril at End house'. I haven't read all of her novels yet, so there are lots of new ones for me to discover as well, yay!
I visited the Agatha Christie festival in Torquay this year and it was amazing! I learned so much about her, I visited two exhibitions, saw an amazing play (And then there were none) and even managed to visit Greenway by steamtrain. It was so special to be there and Torquay is lovely! If you are a Christie fan I really recommend you visit the festival! It is being held every year in September. This is the official website: http://www.agathachristie.com/
I hope you enjoyed learning more about this incredible writer, I know I enjoyed writing about her! Have you read any of her novels or are you planning to now? Let me know in the comments!