Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Happy Birthday Agatha Christie!

Agatha Christie's works are still as fresh and page-turning as they were when she first started writing almost one hundred years ago.  I recently re-read The Mirror Cracked and try as I would, I could not figure out who dunnit until the big reveal.  She was, quite simply, a genius.  Happy Birthday Agatha!  

Born September 15th, 1890
Wrote 80 crime novels and short story collections, 2 autobiographies and 8 novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott
UK’s best loved crime author according to Costa Coffee national book survey 2008
8th most borrowed author in UK libraries
Has sold more than 2 billion books worldwide
Best selling female author in the world – second only to Shakespeare and The Bible
Most translated author

Official Bio from www.Agathachristie.com
Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born on 15 September 1890 in Torquay, Devon, South West England. Agatha loved to read English poetry and began writing poems when she was a child. 
In 1912 Agatha met Archie Christie, a qualified aviator who had applied to join the Royal Flying Corps, they soon married. It was war time and Agatha became a nurse at the Red Cross Hospital in Torquay. When the Hospital opened a dispensary, she accepted an offer to work there and completed the examination of the Society of Apothecaries. Thus began her life long interest in the use of poisons. From this came her first novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles.  The method of death in this novel is poison and was so well described that Agatha received an unprecedented honour for a writer of fiction - a review in the Pharmaceutical Journal. 
During the First World War there were Belgian refugees in most parts of the English countryside, Torquay being no exception.  Although he was not based on any particular person, Agatha thought that a Belgian refugee, a former great Belgian policeman, would make an excellent detective for The Mysterious Affair at Styles.  Hercule Poirot was born.
1919 was a momentous year for Agatha.  With the end of the war, Archie had found a job in the City and they had just enough to rent a flat in London and later that year on the 5th August, Agatha gave birth to their daughter, Rosalind.  Also that year the publisher, John Lane, who had liked The Mysterious Affair at Styles contracted Agatha to produce five more books. She went on to be one of the first authors Penguin ever published, with fantastic results. 
Following the war Agatha continued to write and to travel with Archie, though sadly they were later to divorce and Agatha would remarry, Max Mallowan, the world famous archaeologist - a marriage that would last forty-six years. 
By 1930, having written several novels and short stories, Agatha created a new character to act as sleuth.  Miss Jane Marple was an amalgam of several old ladies Agatha used to meet in villages she visited as a kid. When she created Miss Marple, Agatha did not expect her to become Poirot's rival, but with The Murder at the Vicarage, Miss Marple’s first outing, it appeared she had produced another popular and enduring character.
One of Agatha’s lifelong ambitions had been to travel on the Orient Express; her first journey took place in 1928. The atmosphere of the Middle East was not lost on Agatha, as can be recognised in books such as Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile, Murder in Mesopotamia, Appointment With Death and They Came to Baghdad as well as many short stories.
After a hugely successful career and a very happy life Agatha died peacefully on 12 January 1976.

Great Agatha Christie Quotes:

“Very few of us are what we seem.”

“Every murderer is probably someone’s old friend.”

“An archaeologist is the best husband a woman can have.  The older she gets the more interested he is in her.”

“Crime is terribly revealing.  Try and vary your methods as you will, your tastes, your habits, your attitude of mind, and your soul is revealed by your actions.”


  1. Great post, Lydia! I am going to add The Mirror Cracked onto my TBR pile.

  2. The Mirror Cracked is great, Penelope. Agatha was one witty lady!

  3. “Every murderer is probably someone’s old friend.” I like this quote. Thanks for sharing!!