Agatha Christie

Summary

Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie DBE, born Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller; (Torquay, September 15, 1890 – Wallingford, January 12, 1976), popularly known as Agatha Christie, was a British writer who worked as a novelist, short story writer, playwright and poet. She distinguished herself in the detective novel subgenre, having earned the popular nickname “QueenLady of Crime” in her lifetime. During her career, she published more than eighty books, some under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott.

According to the Guinness Book of Records, Christie is the most successful novelist in the history of world popular literature in terms of total number of books sold, as her works together have sold about four billion copies over the 20th and 21st centuries, whose total numbers are second only to the works sold by the playwright and poet William Shakespeare and the Bible. According to the organization Index Translationum, Agatha Christie”s works have, in a recent survey, been translated into more than 100 languages worldwide. Her bestselling book Ten Little Niggers (published in Brazil as E Não Sobre Nenhum, or O Caso dos Dez Negrinhos, and in Portugal as Convite para a Morte, or As Dez Figuras Negras) from 1939 is also, with about 100 million copies sold around the globe, the bestselling detective novel in history, as well as being on the list of bestselling books of all time, regardless of its genre.

In 1971, she was decorated by the Queen of the United Kingdom, Elizabeth II, with the title of Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, an honor consisting of the female equivalent of the sir. In total, she has written more than 100 books. She is constantly referred to for her iconic characters, including the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot and the elderly amateur sleuth Miss Marple.

Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born on September 15, 1890, on the Devon coast in the town of Torquay, being the third daughter of a wealthy American. Her books have sold hundreds of millions of copies in English, plus a few hundred million more in foreign languages, totaling more than 4 billion copies. She is the most published author of all time in any language, surpassed only by the Bible and Shakespeare. Christie is the author of 80 detective novels and short story compilations. 19 plays and six novels written under the name Mary Westmacott. Agatha Christie was a pioneer in making the endings of her books extremely impressive and unexpected, making it almost impossible for the reader to figure out who the murderer is.

Early Years

Agatha”s father, Frederick, was American and spent most of his time traveling; her mother, Clara, was a very shy woman, from whom Agatha inherited much of her personality. The couple had two other children, Madge and Monty, both older than the future writer. In 1896, she moved with her family to France. Although Madge and Monty received a formal education, her mother decided that her youngest daughter should start school before the age of eight. When fourteen years old, Agatha was practically only educated at home, having several tutors and private teachers. When she was only 11, her father Frederick died, and from then on Agatha began to travel to various places in the world with her mother. At 16, she went to a finishing school in Paris, where she excelled as a singer and pianist.

She met Colonel Archibald Christie, a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps in 1912, and had a stormy romance with him. They married on December 24, 1914. While her husband was in World War I, Agatha worked in a hospital and a pharmacy, jobs that influenced her work: many of the murders in her books were committed with the use of poison. In 1919, she had her first and only child, Rosalind, with Archibald. In 1926, Agatha”s mother, Clara, died. That same year the author divorces her husband and disappears for several days. Agatha”s older sister Madge died in 1950, and her brother Monty died in 1929.

Beginning in literature

He began writing The Mysterious Affair at Styles in 1916, and the book was published in 1920 by Bodley Head publishing selling about 2,000 copies, after being rejected by 6 publishers. Next came The Secret Adversary, The Murder on the Links, The Man in the Brown Suit, Poirot Investigates and The Secret of Chimneys. But success came in 1926 with the publication of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, which sold 5,000 copies. The book caused controversy, because Agatha went against the rules of detective novels.

Disappearance

On December 3, 1926, her husband Archie reveals that he is in love with another woman, Nancy Neele, and wants a divorce. So he leaves his wife, to spend a weekend with his mistress and some friends in Godalming, Surrey. After arriving home and not finding her husband, Agatha left the house in Styles around 9:45 that night with a small suitcase. On the morning of December 4 her car was found in a ravine at Silent Pool in Newlands Corner with its headlights on. Inside the green Morris Cowley were left a fur coat, her purse and an expired driver”s license. The author”s disappearance became news in Surrey when the local police published a missing persons report, and an offer of £100 was made to anyone with any information about the author. Planes, divers, and scouts searched for Agatha – in all, 15,000 volunteers helped in the search.

Several pieces of information have been added to the story of the author”s disappearance in The World of Agatha Christie. Martin Fido says that in the week of her disappearance Agatha left a letter for Carlo Fisher, her secretary, asking her to cancel an accommodation in Yorkshire. According to Martin, the author also wrote a letter to her husband giving him harsh criticism. Also on Saturday, before the discovery of the author”s car, she had written a letter to Campbell Christie in London saying she was going to Yorkshire, but the letter was lost before Campbell could read it. A note was also written to the Deputy Chief Constable of Surrey (even before Agatha”s car was found), informing him that Archie feared for his safety.

Agatha Christie had been missing for 11 days, since her car was found in Silent Pool Lake, and was being searched for by airplane (it was the first time that airplanes were used to search for someone missing in England), when the police learned that she was staying at the Hydropathic Hotel (now the Old Swan Hotel) in Harrogate. Agatha arrived there by cab on December 4 carrying only one suitcase.

The author was staying under the name Teresa Neele (the same last name as her husband”s mistress), claiming to be from Cape Town, and explaining that she was a mother grieving the death of her son. At the hotel, Agatha was seen dancing, playing bridge, doing crossword puzzles, and reading newspapers. Interestingly, the author left an ad in The Times saying that Teresa Neele was looking for relatives and friends from South Africa; interestingly, Agatha”s sister Madge died in 1923 after returning from the African country. The author was recognized at the hotel by musician Bob Sanders Tappin, who claimed the £100 reward. Sanders said that he addressed the author as “Mrs. Christie” and that she answered him, but said she was suffering from amnesia. Agatha was found by police on December 19.

Several theories have been created to explain the author”s false disappearance, some people argue that the scandal was a publicity stunt to increase sales of one of her books (The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, released weeks before the disappearance, was still on the best-seller list), others that the author”s intention was just to get back at Archibald by faking her death so that her husband could be accused of murdering her, and finally there are those who say that the author actually suffered a car accident and lost her memory.

Although in her autobiographical books there is almost no information about the episode of her disappearance, it is believed that in The Portrait, published under the name Mary Westmacott, Agatha tells much of her story through the character Celia, who thinks of suicide after being abandoned by her husband.

The second marriage and return to literature

In 1927 Agatha returned to writing, with the publication of The Big Four, starring Hercule Poirot. Even after the scandal of his disappearance, Agatha only separated from Archibald in 1928, two years after the incident. In the fall of the same year, British archaeologist Leonard Woolley invited Agatha to the Middle East, where he was in charge of excavations in Ur. The following year Agatha returned to Ur, where she met Woolley”s young assistant Max Mallowan (14 years younger than Agatha), whom she married in 1930. The author kept her name as Agatha Christie because that was how she was celebrated among her readers, but in her private life she was called Mrs. Mallowan. With her husband, Agatha traveled all over the world, doing excavations and taking knowledge of archaeology, and wrote a book about the experience, Come, Tell Me How You Live. Her marriage to Mallowan would last until the writer”s death. Her only daughter, Rosalind married at the beginning of World War II, and in 1943 she had a son, Mathew Prichard, Agatha Christie”s only grandson.

In 1934, Agatha Christie reached the peak of her career, with one of her most famous books, Murder on the Orient Express, adapted for film, theater, and TV on countless occasions, the most famous being the 1974 version of the novel, which earned Ingrid Bergman an Oscar, and three BAFTA awards. In the year of the film”s release alone, the original novel sold 3 million copies.

Last Years

The last book starring Hercule Poirot, Curtain (written in the 1940s), was published in December 1975, because Agatha no longer felt willing to write. The author died one month later, on January 12, 1976, of natural causes (pneumonia). She is buried in St Mary Churchyard, Cholsey, Oxfordshire in England. Miss Marple”s last book, Sleeping Murder (also written in the 1940s) was published in October 1976. Her husband Max Mallowan died in 1978.

Unlike her siblings, Agatha never had the chance to attend public school, and was educated by her mother in an almost reclusive environment where Agatha became interested in classical music and dreamed of being a lyric singer. Agatha even studied music in Paris. In her childhood, also through her mother, she had the first contact with literature.

In her 56-year career Agatha Christie wrote more than 80 books, in addition to the many plays and film and television adaptations of her works, starring Hercule Poirot, the Belgian detective made popular by the use of his “gray cells,” and Miss Marple, the spinster who, by observing human nature, can solve the most obscure mysteries.

Guinness

Agatha was one of the world”s most prolific authors. She is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world”s best-selling author: her books have sold more than 4 billion copies in 103 languages, and the royalties generated by her works are $4 million a year. The author also holds a place in Guinnes for the world”s longest-running play: The Mousetrap opened on November 25, 1952 at the Ambassadors Theatre in London, on March 25, 1974 it went to the St. Martin”s Theatre, and is still there today.

Another Agatha Christie record is that of the world”s thickest book, measuring over 30 cm, with 4,032 pages in which are included all 12 novels and 20 short stories starring Miss Marple. The Complete Miss Marple is one of the rarest books by the writer. Published by Cedric & Chivers Period Bookbinding, the book is mostly leather, with gold in some parts, and sixteen handmade pages. Only 500 volumes were produced, and the book sells for £1,000. The book also has a map of St. Mary Mead, the fictional village where Miss Marple lived, drawn up by Nicolette Caven (based on the description given by Agatha in A Body in the Library, and additional details provided by Agatha”s other novels), an introduction by Kate Mosse, telling how Agatha “discovered” Miss Marple, and a foreword by Mathew Prichard, Agatha”s grandson.

Agatha Christie in Popular Culture

One of the main representations of Christie in popular culture, is in the British science fiction television series, Doctor Who, in the fourth season episode, The Unicorn and the Wasp, which contains elements from several of her books such as Death in the Clouds, The Body in the Library, and The Murder at the Vicarage, to actual events such as her disappearance. In the episode, it is up to Agatha (played by Fennela Wolgar), the Doctor and Donna to investigate deaths that occur in a house in 1926 England that are committed by a vespiform alien, even with Agatha being reluctant and saying that she is not a detective and only a writer. The episode was the highest rated of the entire season.

Sales list of the first editions of Agatha”s books, according to Agatha Christie Ltd.

Life in Devon

Agatha spent her childhood and adolescence in Devon, which was also the setting for 15 of her novels. Young Agatha lived in a large Ashfield mansion in the Tower District. As a child, Agatha loved rollerblading at Princess Pier, and bathing at Meadfoot Beach and Beacon Cove, a ladies-only beach, which was, however, home to the Royal Torbay Yacht Club – even visited by Frederick, Agatha”s father, who often played whist there. Another interesting habit of Agatha”s childhood was to attend small theatrical productions in the homes of eminent families in the area. She took part in numerous plays at the Oldway Mansion in Paignton, and at the Imperial Hotel in Torquay, which incorporated three of her novels, The Body in the Library, Peril at End House, and Sleeping Murder. The author also attended concerts at Torquay”s Pavilion. It was after a concert that Agatha received her second marriage proposal (the first being to Reggie Lucy on a Torquay golf course), from the underling Archibald Christie, whom she had met three months earlier at a ball at Ugbrooke House near Exeter. She rejected the proposal, since she was in love with Reggie, but two years later, on Christmas Eve 1914, she married Archibald.

The Grand Hotel on the waterfront was the site of the author”s honeymoon, and is where the Agatha Christie Trail begins, which visits many of the landmarks of the author”s life in the area. In 1938 she bought the Greenway Estate near Brixham to live on with her second husband Max Mallowan, where she led an active life in the community, even donating from the proceeds of one of her books and a stained glass window to Churston Church, run by Lord and Lady Churston. She wrote several times about Devon, its towns, and the English Riviera coast to Dartmouth and Salcombe, and using the setting of Burgh Island for the novels And Then There Were None and Evil Under the Sun, and the Moorland Hotel in Haytor, Dartmoor in her first book, The Mysterious Affair at Styles.

Agatha often spent vacations, weekends and holidays at Greenway Estate, which inspired her to write Dead Man”s Folly and Five Little Pigs, and there is even a boat where Marlene Tucker”s body was found. As a child, Agatha saw and admired the Greenway house, telling her mother that it was the most beautiful house in the world. Agatha bought it for the sum of 6,000 pounds. Upon buying the house, the author hired an architect who revealed the Georgian heirlooms. In 1942, the house was requisitioned by the Admiralty and occupied by agents of an American troop who painted the frieze blue in honor of their war exploits. Even after the war, Agatha chose to keep the frieze. In 2000 Agatha”s family donated the house to the National Trust, which after raising £5,400,000, in 2009 opened the house to the public. The drawing room of the property, one of the main public viewing points, is where Agatha read one of her novels before it was even published, to her family, who were trying to guess who the murderer was, but only her husband Max could get it right.

Life in London

Agatha lived in London for many years, she moved to the city in 1918 and lived at 5 Northwick Terrace in St John”s Wood for the final months of the war. She later moved to Kensington, before that living in Chelsea, where at 48 Swan Court, she wrote The Witness for the Prosecution and Crooked House, Chelsea was also the setting for One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, and was the place where Agatha lived the longest. The author lived in no less than nine houses in London, and at 58 Sheffiel Terrace, the author was given a plaque in her honor, which marks the house in which she lived. London is also the strong landmark of her works, besides being the home of Hercule Poirot in At Bertram”s Hotel, the hotel in question is based on the Brown Hotel just off Piccadilly, where she claims to have been once.

Travel

Agatha”s first trip was to France, and then to Cairo, but one of her most interesting trips was to Baghdad on the Orient Express in 1928. It was in Baghdad, by the way, that Leonard Wooley introduced her to Max Mallowan, her future husband, and who would change Agatha”s life completely: for the next 30 years she would travel the world on archeological missions, and would no longer have a fixed abode. The inspiration for Murder on the Orient Express came in 1931, when Agatha was stranded with other passengers on the Simplon-Orient Express on her way back from Nineveh – the book was published in 1934 and bases the plot on exactly that: a group of people stranded on a train because of snow.

During archaeological excavations, in addition to helping her husband restore and clean ancient objects, Agatha also wrote. And it was her discoveries about past civilizations that led her to become interested in life in the deserts of the Middle East. The actual disposition of the SS Karnak ship on the Nile that inspired her to write Death on the Nile. The excavations in Ur, for Murder in Mesopotamia; visits to Petra for Appointment with Death; and an experience in southern Mesopotamia for They Came to Baghdad.

Order of the British Empire

Agatha Christie became a Dame-Commendatrix of the Order of the British Empire in 1971 – Queen Elizabeth II is a big fan of her books. She died in 1976, and since then several of her books have been published post-mortem: the hit novel Sleeping Murder appeared later that year, followed by her autobiography and the short story collection Miss Marple”s Final Cases and Two Other Stories, Problem at Pollensa Bay and While the Light Lasts and Other Stories. In 1998, Black Coffee was the first of her plays to be adapted for the theater by another author, Charles Osborne.

Agatha Christie, despite not liking to speak in public, in her Autobiography, talks a lot about her writing style, the author had a vast collection of books by Charles Dickens, PG Wodehouse and Lewis Carroll. Agatha also gained fame creating mystery books satirizing children”s works, as was the case of Five Little Pigs. In her works, the author often used as space small English towns or villages, another common point, is that most of her works had a doctor.

Agatha”s mother read her daughter many books, which was a distraction for both of them, among the authors read by her mother were Sir Walter Scott, Charles Dickens, John Milton, Alexandre Dumas, and Jane Austen, Agatha once said that her favorite author was Charles Dickens, and that her favorite work by the author was Bleak House. Agatha and her sister Madge were also very fond of detective stories, and the future writer read the first Sherlock Holmes story when she was only eight years old. Agatha also started reading the works of Edgar Allan Poe. At the time Agatha told her sister, Madge, that she could write a detective story, after they read Gaston Leroux”s The Mystery of the Yellow Room, her sister doubted, and in her biography Agatha said that then, the seed was planted, and that she had been struck by the determination to write detective stories.

Before she started writing, Agatha had to define her own style; according to her, it is difficult for a young writer to start her career without copying, even minimally, the style of her idols. She considered starting a work, as something frankly, difficult, and that many times, she spent hours staring at the typewriter and nibbling a pencil, waiting for an idea, which gave her the intention to give up, but the author said she was encouraged to continue by her husband Max Mallowan. Anywhere she went, Agatha was inspired to write. She had a notebook, which she always carried with her to jot down her ideas about plots, fatal poisons, or crimes she read about in the newspapers. On some occasions she even provoked her mind, saying that she would live with the work until it was finished. It was like this with The Murder of Roger Ackroyd; the writer was constantly adjusting the details of the plot. Agatha said she had similar feelings with Lord Edgware Dies, whose idea came to her mind after watching a Ruth Draper impersonation show.

Characters for the novels came about in the same way as the plots, the author claimed to create characters for herself, and to be able to choose anyone anywhere to serve as the basis for her fictional characters, but only once did she include a real person in one of her books. Ernest Belcher, a former teacher and also the boss of Archibald (Agatha”s first husband), had asked the author to include him in one of her books, which turned out to be The Man in the Brown Suit, using his house as the setting for the murder. The author denied the suggestion, but created Pedler, a character based on Ernest, with his mannerisms and phrases, the author said she didn”t consider she had done a good job, and so she never again included real people in her books. But Agatha also included some other real people in her books, such as Ariadne Oliver, Lady Nancy Astor (the first woman member of Parliament), Lady Westholme (in Appointment with Death) and Katherine Woolley (wife of Dr. Leonard Wooller, an archaeologist who worked with Max Mallowan) in Murder in Mesopotamia.

In her autobiography the author says that the great pleasure in writing detective stories is that there are several genres to choose from: “(…) the intricate detective story, with a complicated plot, which is technically interesting and requires a lot of work, but is always rewarding, and, also, what I can describe as the detective story against the background of a kind of passion: in this case, it is the passion that helps save innocence. Because it is innocence that matters, not guilt.(…)” In her autobiography Agatha also says she is frightened that people don”t care about the victims, but about the guilty, when they read a detective novel. She also says that she was able to completely satisfy herself with one story when she wrote And Then There Were None, which cost her a lot of planning as it was difficult to develop so many deaths in one book and not wanting the killer to be obvious, but that the idea had fascinated her deeply. Agatha also mentioned that she never thought seriously about crime, but that writing about it, led her to a more detailed study of criminology.

From the beginning Agatha counted with the help of her secretary, Charlotte Fisher, who wrote what the author dictated, according to her autobiography, Agatha felt insecure in the beginning, she couldn”t say complete sentences without hesitating, and that she spent more than an hour, trying to start the work, and that Charlotte herself, despite being a stenographer secretary was nervous, and afraid that Agatha would dictate too fast. When an interviewer visited Agatha Christie”s home, and asked her where she wrote, Agatha says it was difficult to answer, since she wrote anywhere. She wrote at the dining table, at the sink, and anywhere else. The author only required a sturdy desk and a typewriter when she was ready to write a novel, since until then she had handwritten the first chapters of her books. Even then she says she wrote between “magics and explosions,” as she never had a room or office set aside for writing (until her home on Sheffield Terrace in London).

Many of her books, were written while accompanying her husband Max on archaeological missions. She wrote Lord Edgware Dies, while she was with her husband on a dig in Nineveh, in northern Iraq, she said she could write anywhere as long as she had a sturdy desk and a typewriter, but the house she stayed in Nineveh did not have a desk, and when the author asked the head of the dig, Dr. Reginald Campbell Thompson, for a desk, he promptly refused, but Agatha would buy the desk one way or another. The Queen of Crime (as she was known), got to write a book in only 3 days, it was under the pseudonym “Mary Westmacott” that she wrote the novel Absent in the Spring, which she says was the only book that satisfied her completely, the book she always wanted to write, that was clear in her mind since the beginning, because she had been planning it for seven years. To write the book, she first made sure that she would not be interrupted, and wrote the first and the last chapter before the others, because she already knew her creative flow so well that she already knew she would be able to develop her story better. Agatha has also written two books at once, it was like this with the novella Miss Marple, The Body in the Library and N or M? This was in 1941 during the Second World War (the same time, by the way, that she wrote Curtain and Sleeping Murder, the last books of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, respectively), the author says in her autobiography that she had no problems writing during the war, because she only had to babble the characters” lines, and imagine them walking in the place she had created for them.

Detectives

Just before the Second World War broke out, Agatha started her literary career with The Mysterious Affair at Styles. One of her main difficulties was to create the detective, for that the young author was inspired by a Belgian who was staying in Torquay, and created Hercule Poirot a detective of 1,60 m, who solves his cases using grey cells, and who is often compared to Sherlock Holmes.

Poirot made his first appearance in The Mysterious Affair at Styles, called by his friend Arthur Hastings, he began his career as a bailiff, but went on to work as a private detective, and assist the police in complicated cases. The character has starred in several movies and has his own TV series, Agatha Christie”s Poirot where he is played by David Suchet.

In 2013, the Christie family gave its full support to the publication of a new Poirot story, The Monogram Murders, written by English author Sophie Hannah. Hannah later published a second story, Closed Casket, in 2016.

Miss Marple looks nothing like a detective, but for an old maid who has never left St. Mary Mead she is surprisingly astute. Jane Marple, solves her crimes in a very different way than other detectives, she doesn”t do interrogations, she doesn”t look for clues, she just uses her knowledge of human nature. To create Miss Marple, Agatha Christie drew on both real life and her own works, in real life because of her great interest in unmarried old women who, even though they lived in small villages, possessed an extraordinary knowledge of human behavior. In fiction, she used the spinster Caroline Sheppard, from The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, who assisted Hercule Poirot in solving the mystery in question. When The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was adapted for the theater by Michael Morton, he replaced Caroline Sheppard with a young woman, so Agatha decided to give the spinsters a voice, and created Miss Marple.

Miss Marple made her first appearance in The Tuesday Night Club, a short story published in The Sketch magazine in 1926, while her first appearance in a novel was in The Murder at the Vicarage. In literature Marple starred in 12 novels and 20 short stories, ranging from the picturesque rural England of The Body in the Library to the glamour of At Bertram”s Hotel and an island in A Caribbean Mystery. Many actresses have played Miss Marple on TV and film, Gracie Fields was the first, in the TV version of A Murder is Announced in 1956. Margaret Rutherford played Miss Marple in four MGM films loosely based on Agatha”s work, and also in The Murder Alphabet, alongside Tony Randall, who played Poirot. Helen Hayes, winner of two Oscars, played Marple in 1983”s A Caribbean Mystery and 1984”s They Do It with Mirrors. Joan Hickson was Miss Marple in the BBC adaptations in the 1990s. Joan had played a maid in Murder, she Said, which had Rutherford as Marple. Finally Geraldine McEwan played the detective in the ITV adaptations in 2004, being replaced by Julia McKenzie in 2009.

Only after the First World War, that the young men Tuppence Cowley and Tommy Beresford, create the “Young Adventurers Ltd.” In all, the young couple participated in 5 of the author”s books, including a collection of short stories: The Secret Adversary, Partners in Crime, N or M?, By the Pricking of My Thumbs and Postern of Fate… Agatha describes Tommy as pleasingly ugly but unmistakably a gentleman, he is considered slow which is the perfect counterpoint to Tuppence”s impetuosity, the friends marry at the end of the first book and have three children: twins Derek and Deborah, and adopted daughter Betty. Partners in Crime became a television series in 1984, airing on LWT, with James Warwick as Tommy and Francesca Annis as Tuppence; the series aired 10 of the 15 stories belonging to the book. The couple returned in the 1985 film The Secret Adversary.

The detective Parker Pyne appeared in 1934 in the book of short stories Parker Pyne Investigates. Pyne did not consider himself a detective, but rather a heart specialist whose specialty was curing people”s unhappiness. Pyne advertised his services in the classifieds of the Times, where he invited unhappy readers to visit him at 17 Richmond Street. The first six stories featuring Parker Pyne, are simple affairs set in London, later more complex stories, such as a trip to the Middle East on the Orient Express (from Murder on the Orient Express), being a wills advisor, Pyne even takes a cruise on the Nile.

Pyne later appears in The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories, which also features stories by Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. The detective, or rather heart doctor, is described as a fat, balding man in his sixties, with a theory that there are 5 kinds of unhappiness, but that all of them have a cure, Pyne uses untraditional methods, and ingeniously fools the suspects and cures the unhappiness. And at some point the stories of Parker Pyne and Hercule Poirot intersect, Mrs. Ariadne Oliver, Pyne”s friend, helps Poirot with some of the crimes.

Ariadne Oliver first appeared in the short story The Case of the Discontented Soldier, part of the collection Parker Pyne Investigates, as a friend of investigator Parker Pyne. Starting out as a simple mystery writer, Ariadne comes to participate in 6 novels with Hercule Poirot himself, beginning with Cards on the Table. Ariadne, unlike Miss Marple, is very ill-tempered, and considers that Scotland Yard would be better run by a woman, and in her we can find a lot of Agatha Christie, since, besides being a writer of detective novels, Oliver still has a certain dislike for her character Sven Hjerson, just as Agatha, in several situations, has shown to feel for Poirot. The detective has also appeared on the screen, starting with the 1986 film Dead Man”s Folly, adaptation of the novel of the same name, where she is played by Jean Stapleton, and has also acted with David Suchet, in recent episodes of Agatha Christie”s Poirot, such as Cards on the Table, which aired in 2005.

Some of Agatha”s most famous books, are not starring either Poirot, or Miss Marple, or even the couple Tommy and Tuppence, or Ariadne Oliver, they are ordinary people, who are somehow thrust into a mystery. The first example of this type of detective is the young and intrepid Anne Beddingfeld, from “The Man in the Brown Suit,” the author”s fourth novel. Another is Dr. Arthur Calgary, from Ordeal by Innocence. In the novel, the doctor, returning from Australia, finds an alibi for a wrongly convicted man, and it is the various clues found by Calgary that lead him to unravel a murder.

In Why Didn”t They Ask Evans? (Agatha forms a pair of investigators very different from Tommy and Tuppence, formed by the amateurs Bobby Jones and Frankie Derwent, who besides everything, are very clumsy and fall into some traps of their enemies, but even so they manage to solve the mystery placed in their way. Besides this, Endless Night and The Pale Horse are starred by amateurs, and in first person. In Endless Night, young Michael Rogers tries to solve the murder of his wife Ellie. In The Pale Horse, perhaps one of Agatha”s most unique books, Mark Easterbrook tries to solve a series of murders involving supposed witches and a mysterious yellow horse.

And in The Seven Dials Mystery, the intrigued Bundle Brent, daughter of the indifferent Lord Caterham, on seeing two of her friends killed by a supposed secret society, tries to unravel such outcomes along with the help of Superintendent Battle, a policeman who advises her to beware of any reprisal from this sect made up of seven strange characters, some of them infiltrating the plot. Her perspicacity goes to the point of solving the mystery without resorting to gray cells or the behavioral studies present in Poirot or Jane Marple, respectively.

Outros detetives por acaso são Anthony Cade, de The Secret of Chimneys (Victoria Jones, de They Came to Baghdad) (Hilary Craven, de Destination Unknown (Luke Fitzwilliam e Bridget Conway, de Murder Is Easy (Hori, de Death Comes as the End (E no Final a Morte Vem como o Fim), etc.

In some occasions, even in stories where Poirot or Miss Marple are present, some of these detectives end up sharing the space with them or taking the place of prominence. This is the case of the brothers Jerry and Joanna Burton, from The Moving Finger (Lucy Eyeslesbarrow, from 4.50 from Paddington (Gwenda and Giles Reed, from Sleeping Murder (Dr. James Sheppard, from The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Julia Upjohn and Adam Goodman, from Cat Among the Pigeons (Colin Lamb, from The Clocks (Amy Leatheran from Murder in Mesopotamia), among others.

Main works

In 1926, after an average of one book a year, Agatha Christie wrote her masterpiece: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. This was the first of her books to be published by Collins Publishing, and marked the beginning of an author-publisher relationship that lasted 50 years and 70 books. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was also the first of Agatha Christie”s books to be dramatized – under the name Alibi – and to be successful in London”s West End. The Mousetrap, her most famous play, premiered in 1952 and is the longest running play in history. It has still been performed, in the same London theater, ever since. In the year of its publication in 1926 alone, it sold 5000 editions, and drew attention because it was so different from any other detective novel.

Murder on the Orient Express was published in 1934, and is considered one of the author”s greatest successes, inspiring several movies and plays. In the year of its publication alone, it sold 3 million books, making it Agatha”s most successful book in terms of sales. In the book, a mysterious murder scares the passengers of the Orient Express. The book has been adapted for film and television several times, the most famous being in 1974, with Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot, and the direction of Sidney Lumet. In 2017, it received a new adaptation now with Kenneth Branagh directing the film and also playing the famous detective Hercule Poirot. The Orient Express train began operating in 1883 connecting Paris to Constantinople, and in 1900 it passed into private ownership, and over the years the train route grew.

One of her most famous books, Ten Little Niggers, whose title is based on a traditional nursery rhyme, caused a lot of controversy when it was published in the United States due to concerns over accusations of racism; for this reason, later editions were retitled And Then There Were None. Despite the controversy, the book was one of Agatha”s biggest successes, adapted, more than once, for TV and film. One of the most famous adaptations is the movie And Then There Were None (1945), whose cast included Barry Fitzgerald, Walter Huston, Judith Anderson, and Richard Haydn.

The book Curtain, narrating Hercule Poirot”s last adventure, was published shortly before her death. Agatha said when she published the story that she preferred to kill off her most famous character to avoid publications she would not approve of after her death. Both Curtain and Sleeping Murder, the last book of the Miss Marple character, had been written in the 1940s, due to the author”s concern about not surviving World War II – and also as a way to secure an additional source of income for her husband and daughter, to whom she bequeathed the rights to the works – and were kept for decades in a bank vault. In the book, Poirot returns to the site of his first major case, to solve another, unaware that this would be his last. The book attracted so much attention that it earned Hercule Poirot an obituary in The New York Times, and he was the first fictional character to be featured on the front page of the newspaper.

Agatha”s other face

Agatha Christie wrote much more than just detective literature, she has published six novels, two books of poetry, a children”s book, two autobiographies, and has been a playwright. In addition to her play The Mousetrap, which is the longest-running play in the world, she has also written the play Witness for the Prosecution. Although not as successful as The Mousetrap, both plays can still be seen, from the great theaters of London, to high schools in the United States, and even Ten Little Niggers, got its theatrical version under the title Ten Little Indians.

In books, Agatha didn”t limit herself to detective novels; her first autobiography, Christie”s An Autobiography, where she gives details about her professional and personal life until 1965, received much critical acclaim when published in 1977. Although few people know it, Agatha was once also a poet: in 1924 she published her first collection of poems, The Road of Dreams, retracing the author”s adolescence and the First World War. The book also has stories about a character named Harlequin, who according to Agatha is the real Harley Quin (from The Mysterious Mr. Quin), two poems, Elizabeth of England and The Ballad of the Flint, talk about Norse gods. In 1973 came the second collection, but with the same title, which had in the first part the poems published in 1924, and in the second part, 27 unpublished poems, about the lost childhood, places visited by the author and experiences she had in her various travels. Like Mary Westmacott, she published six non-police novels, the first in 1930, and the last in 1956. Agatha once said that her novels were a way to express herself, which she could not do in her detective stories.

Agatha also wrote a children”s book and religious book, Star Over Bethlehem, which has six stories and five poems, accompanied by illustrations; three of the stories are set in modern times, and the other three tell about the travels of Mary and Joseph, the visit of the Magi, and even Jesus” meeting with the Apostle John after Christ”s resurrection.

Of all the plays about Agatha”s books, only three were not adapted by the author herself: Alibi, Peril at End House and Murder at the Vicarage. The first, an adaptation of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, was first staged in 1928, directed by Sir Gerald du Marier, with Charles Laughton as Poirot. Agatha, not approving of the play, decided to write her own plays from then on. The first play written by Agatha herself, Black Coffee, in 1930, was so successful that the following year it was adapted for the movies, with Austin Trevor playing Poirot, but without the traditional detective mustache (Trevor had already played Poirot in the movie version of Alibi). After that, in 1940, Arthur Ridley adapted Peril at End House for the theater, with Francis L. Sullivan as Poirot. And in 1949, The Murder at the Vicarage (an adaptation of the novel of the same name), was shown at the Playhouse Theatre.

A few years later, Love from a Stranger, based on the short story Cottage Philomel, from the collection The Listerdale Mystery, was released, a play that became a film the year after its release with Basil Rathbone in the leading role. The first film about a work by Agatha to be produced entirely in England, in 1943 Ten Little Niggers gets the theatrical version, but with a different ending from the book. In the USA the name of the play was changed to Ten Little Indians. For Agatha it was an exaggeration to say that the title (because it contained the term Nigger, a pimp form of referring to black people in English) was prejudiced, since it referred to a lullaby that had existed in English culture for over 100 years.

Murder on the Nile premiered at the Ambassadors Theatre in 1949. In the United States, the play also had its title changed to Hidden Horizon. In 1951, the play The Hollow premiered, which, unlike the original novel, did not star Hercule Poirot, since Agatha said she had spoiled the novel with Poirot”s presence, and would not make the same mistake in the play In 1952, Agatha”s theatrical masterpiece, The Mousetrap (the original title was Three Blind Mice. “The Mousetrap” was written at the request of the British royal family, to honor Queen Mary”s 80th birthday, and was broadcast live on the BBC. The play was adapted into a short book, entitled Three Blind Mice and Other Histories, initially published only in the USA.

Throughout the 1950s, Agatha”s works were successful. Witness for the Prosecution was adapted for the stage 20 years after the original work was published, and was made into a film in 1958, with Charles Laughton as Poirot, opposite Marlene Dietrich and Tyrone Power, and was generally a great success both commercially and artistically. Spider”s Web, the original play, premiered in 1954, with Margaret Lockwood playing a woman who tries to find out who is responsible for a murder that occurs in the living room of her house, while trying to hide the murder from the rest of the people. The Unexpected Guest, premiered in 1958, was such a success that it made the audience forget the fiasco of the previous play, Verdict, one of Agatha”s few failures in the theater. Spider”s Web, The Unexpected Guest and Black Coffee were made into a book by Charles Osborne. In 1960 came Go Back for Murder, based on the book Five Little Pigs, again Agatha preferred to take Poirot out of the play, and in 1962, Rule of Three, a play divided into three other mini-plays, entitled The Rats, The Patient and Afternoon at the Seaside. Agatha”s success in the theater was so great that she was the only woman in history to have three plays running simultaneously in London”s West End.

Television

Sources

  1. Agatha Christie
  2. Agatha Christie
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