Life of Agatha Christie
Familiarization with the biography and works (novel "Curtain") of Agatha Christie, which was one of the most creative writers of the 20th-century, had become a prolific writer of murder, mystery and suspense, and also best-selling novelist of all time.
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Often billed as 'The Queen of Crime' Agatha Christie was one of the most creative writers of the 20th-century. She was born in Torquay on 15 September 1890, the daughter of Frederick and Clarissa Miller, she was christened Agatha Mary Clarissa. Frederick, an easy going, independently wealthy American stockbroker, and Clara, an Englishwoman, raised their three children - Margaret, Monty, and Agatha - in an Italian-style stucco mansion complete with servants.
Like many children of the times, her early education took place at home and at the age of 16 she was sent to a school in Paris to complete her education. Amongst other subjects, she studied singing and the piano. She had always enjoyed writing, from an early age her mother had encouraged her in the use of her extraordinary vivid imagination.
Her father was often ill, suffering from a series of heart attacks, and in November 1901 he died, aged 55. His death left the family devastated, and in an uncertain economic situation. Clara and Agatha continued to live together in their Torquay home; Madge had moved to the nearby Cheadle Hall with her new husband and Monty had joined the army and been sent to South Africa to fight in the Boer War. Agatha would later claim that her father's death, occurring when she was 11 years old, marked the end of her childhood for her.
For high school, Agatha went to a finishing school in Paris where her mother hoped her daughter would become an opera singer. Although good at singing, Agatha's stage fright once again prevented her from publicly performing. After her graduation, she and her mother traveled to Egypt, which would inspire her writing.
In 1914, the sweet, shy, 24-year-old Agatha met 25-year-old Archibald Christie, an aviator, who was in complete contrast to her personality. Five years later in 1919, a daughter Rosalind was born. By this time Agatha had become a prolific writer of murder, mystery and suspense. Christie had long been a fan of detective novels, having enjoyed Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White and The Moonstone as well as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's early Sherlock Holmes stories. She wrote her own detective novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles, featuring Hercule Poirot. This novel was published in 1920. This launched her literary career.
By 1924, Agatha Christie had published six novels. After Christie's mother died of bronchitis in 1926, Archibald, who was having an affair, asked Christie for a divorce. Christie left her home on December 3, 1926; her car was found abandoned and Christie was missing. Archibald was immediately suspected. After a police hunt for 11 days, Christie turned up at the Harrogate Hotel, using a name patterned after Archibald's mistress, and saying she had amnesia. Some suspected that she actually had a nervous breakdown, others suspected that she wanted to upset her husband, and the police suspected that she wanted to sell more books. Archibald and Christie divorced April 1, 1928.
Needing to get away, Agatha Christie boarded the Orient Express in 1930 from France to the Middle East. On tour at a dig site in Ur she met an archeologist named Max Mallowan, a big fan of hers. Fourteen years his senior, Christie enjoyed his company, finding out that they both worked in the business of uncovering “clues.” After they married on September 11, 1930, Christie often accompanied him, living and writing from Mallowan's archeological sites, further inspiring her novels' settings. During the Second World War, Christie worked in the pharmacy at University College Hospital, London, where she acquired a knowledge of poisons that she put to good use in her post-war crime novels. For example, the use of thallium as a poison was suggested to her by UCH Chief Pharmacist Harold Davis (later appointed Chief Pharmacist at the UK Ministry of Health), and in The Pale Horse, published in 1961, she employed it to dispatch a series of victims, the first clue to the murder method coming from the victims' loss of hair. So accurate was her description of thallium poisoning that on at least one occasion it helped solve a case that was baffling doctors. The couple remained happily married for 45 years, until Agatha Christie's death.
In October 1941, Agatha Christie wrote a play titled Black Coffee. After writing several more plays, Christie wrote The Mousetrap in July 1951 for Queen Mary's 80th birthday; the play became the longest continuously running play in the West End of London, since 1952. Christie received the Edgar Grand Master Award in 1955.
In 1957, when Christie became ill living at the archeological digs, Mallowan decided to retire from Nimrud in northern Iraq. The couple returned to England where they busied themselves with writing projects. In 1968, Mallowan was knighted for his contributions to archaeology. In 1971, Christie was appointed Dame Commander of the British Empire, the equivalent of knighthood, for her services to literature.
On January 12, 1976, Agatha Christie died at home in Oxfordshire at the age of 85 of natural causes. Her body was interred at Cholsey Churchyard, Cholsey, Oxfordshire, England. Her autobiography was published posthumously in 1977.
Christie write 82 detective novels, but she also wrote an autobiography, a series of six romance novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott, and 19 plays, including The Mousetrap, the world's longest running theatrical play in London.
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.
Well-known Miss Marple was introduced in The Thirteen Problems in 1927 and was based on Christie's grandmother and her "Ealing cronies". Both Jane and Gran "always expected the worst of everyone and everything, and was, with almost frightening accuracy, usually proved right." Miss Marple appeared in 12 of Christie's novels.
During the Second World War, Christie wrote two novels, Curtain, and Sleeping Murder, intended as the last cases of these two great detectives, Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple. 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 Sir 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 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 the public liked Poirot. Feeling tied down, stuck with a love interest, she did marry off Hastings in an attempt to trim her cast commitments. In contrast, Christie was fond of Miss Marple. However, the Belgian detective's titles outnumber the Marple titles 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. In a recording discovered and released in 2008, Christie revealed the reason for this: "Hercule Poirot, a complete egoist, would not like being taught his business or having suggestions made to him by an elderly spinster lady". agatha christie novelist murder
Poirot is the only fictional character to have been given an obituary in The New York Times, following the publication of Curtain. It appeared on the front page of the paper on 6 August 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 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.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Christie is the best-selling novelist of all time. Her novels have sold roughly 4 billion copies, and her estate claims that her works rank third, after those of William Shakespeare and the Bible, as the world's most-widely published books.
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