Dame Agatha Christie was born Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller in Torquay, Devon, UK on September 15,1890. In her lifetime, she wrote 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, a play, and six romances. She died in 1976. As our production of MURDER ON THE NILE nears, we thought we’d share some trivia about this prolific writer.
1. Agatha Christie was an avid reader, with the works of Edith Nesbit (The Railway Children), Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll among her favourites. She taught herself to read at age 5!
2. She spent much of her childhood alone, without the influence of other children, but she adored her pets.
3. She’s regarded by Guinness World Records as the best-selling novelist of all time, with her novels selling more than 2 billion copies, but her early efforts as a writer were unsuccessful. Things changed when Poirot mystery The Mysterious Affair at Styles was published in 1920.
4. Her best-selling novel was And Then There Were None – 100 million sales to date, making it the world’s best-selling mystery ever, and one of the best-selling books of all time. The book was made into a BBC mini-series in 2015. Watch the trailer here:
5. Her stage play The Mousetrap holds the world record for longest theatrical run, opening at the Ambassadors Theatre in London in November 1952 and moving to St Martin’s Theatre in March 1974 without missing a single performance. It continues now.
6. Christie wrote romance novels under the pen name Mary Westmacott. One of these, Absent in the Spring, was written in three days! She was ‘outed’ by a journalist in 1944.
7. Christie became a Dame in 1971, honouring her literary works (she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1956).
8. In 1926, Christie famously disappeared after her husband requested a divorce. Her car was found above a chalk quarry, along with an expired driving licence and clothes. She was found 10 days later but never spoke about it. Some suggested amnesia, some a publicity stunt, others an aborted suicide attempt. To read more about this, try A Talent for Murder by Andrew Wilson (fiction) or Agatha Christie and the Eleven Missing Days by Jared Cade (non-fiction).
9. There is a children’s book about Agatha Christie in the Little People, Big Dreams series, which features outstanding people who began life as a little child with a dream.
10. Lots of characters were bumped off in Christie’s novels, but the one she really wanted to bump off was Hercule Poirot! She found him ‘insufferable’ and egotistical, but her readers and publishers loved him, so she continued to churn out Poirot novels.