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|AGATHA CHRISTIE (1890-1976)|
"For some years I enjoyed myself very much writing stories of unrelieved gloom... Then I thought it would be fun to try and write a detective story."
Educated at home; studied singing and piano in Paris.
Volunteered as a nurse in the first world war (thus gaining a useful knowledge of poisons), which was when she wrote her first novel, published five years later; assisted her second husband on archaeological digs.
Did you know?
She never enlarged upon her mysterious disappearance in 1926 (following the death of her mother and abandonment by her husband), claiming that she had lost her memory.
Christie is the Guinness World Record author: her work has been translated into more languages than Shakespeare, while The Mousetrap, written as a birthday present for Queen Mary, is the world's longest-running play ("People like it, but who can say why?" was her non-verdict on its success).
Christie's own favourites included The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Death on the Nile and The Body in the Library.
Anna Katherine Green, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, GK Chesterton
Now read on
The Floating Admiral (1931) is a collaboration by 14 detective-story writers, including Christie. Obsessives should search out her six romances (under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott) and her slim volumes of verse (The Road of Dreams, 1924; Poems, 1973). Try Michael Dibdin's The Dying of the Light, a Christie pastiche-cum-modern horror story.
Her film adaptations date back to 1928; the last couple of decades have seen her made for TV, if at all (one would hardly remake a mystery). The 70s, with their cheesy glamour and all-star casts (Death on the Nile, Murder on the Orient Express), were her cinematic highpoint.
Christie wrote An Autobiography, published after her death; see also Gwen Robyn's The Mystery of Agatha Christie.
Agatha Christie A to Z: The Essential Reference to her Life and Writings by Dawn B Sova (1996).