Agatha Christie the Dame of Mystery: Halloween Horror Month Part III
Ah, Agatha Christie, Her wildly popular murder mysteries have kept readers gleefully occupied on cold winter nights for decades. They kept me gleefully occupied for hours on end for decades with her eccentric, sometimes comical, fatally flawed characters and her logical, slightly ironic plot lines.
Agatha Christie, born Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller on September 15, 1890 in the quaint town of Torguay, England was one of the most important authors in the English speaking world, second only to Shakespeare himself in book sales. She sold upwards of 100 million books which were translated into 100 languages, and she had the longest running play in history. “The Mousetrap” was performed in London from 1952 to 2020 and was only halted in this present year due to the Covid 19 virus.
But Agatha Christie did have a rough spot in the road when her first 9 novels were rejected by the publishers However, with her breakthrough novel “The Mysterious Affair of Styles,” also came the advent of her two most endearing serial characters Hercules Poirot, the little fat detective with the huge mustache and the giant ego, and the busybody spinster sleuth, Miss Marple that soon followed. Her career then took off.
Christie herself got hands on experience with poisons and potions while working in a dispensary during WWI, thereby gaining the knowledge she needed to write her detective novels. And during her second marriage to her archaeologist husband Max Mallowan she went on the digs handling the ancient artifacts which gave her the inspiration for her stories set in the exotic countries of the Middle East. So, Agatha Christie was able transport her readers visually from the spooky Gothic manner houses of England in her book “And Then There Were None” to a fatal train ride through the exotica of the Oriental badlands in her book “Murder on the Orient Express”.
All in all, her entire body of work consisted of 66 detective books, 44 short story collections, and one play. She also wrote several romantic novels under the pen name Mary Westmacott, and she was declared to be a Dame of the British Empire in 1971.
As a side note: Agatha Christie created her own little personal mystery when she disappeared for two weeks prompted by her divorce from her first husband Archibald Christie, and rumor had it that she committed suicide when her abandoned car was found with no Agatha in it. But actually she was found vacationing in a luxury hotel in Yorkshire under the name of her ex-husband’s new bride.
This grand dame of detective novels died in 1976 at age 85 and now lies at rest at the Church of St. Mary in Cholsey, Oxfordshire, England.