Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, DBE (née Miller; 15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976) was an English writer. She is known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, particularly those revolving around her fictional detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. Christie also wrote the world’s longest-running play, a murder mystery, The Mousetrap, and, under the pen name Mary Westmacott, six romances. In 1971 she was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for her contribution to literature.
Agatha Christie in 1925
BornAgatha Mary Clarissa Miller
15 September 1890
Torquay, Devon, EnglandDied12 January 1976(aged 85)
Winterbrook House, Winterbrook, Oxfordshire, EnglandResting placeChurch of St Mary, Cholsey, Oxfordshire, EnglandPen nameMary WestmacottOccupationNovelist, short story writer, playwright, poet, memoiristGenreMurder mystery, thriller, crime fiction, detective, romanceLiterary movementGolden Age of Detective FictionNotable worksCreation of characters Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, Murder on the Orient Express, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Death on the Nile, The Murder at the Vicarage, Partners In Crime, The A.B.C. Murders, And Then There Were None, The MousetrapSpouses
(m. 1914; div. 1928)
Sir Max Mallowan(m. 1930)
Christie was born into a wealthy upper-middle-class family in Torquay, Devon. Before marrying and starting a family in London, she had served in a Devon hospital during the First World War, tending to troops coming back from the trenches. She was initially an unsuccessful writer with six consecutive rejections, but this changed when The Mysterious Affair at Styles, featuring Hercule Poirot, was published in 1920. During the Second World War, she worked as a pharmacy assistant at University College Hospital, London, acquiring a good knowledge of poisons which feature in many of her novels.
Guinness World Records lists Christie as the best-selling novelist of all time. Her novels have sold roughly 2 billion copies, and her estate claims that her works come third in the rankings of the world’s most-widely published books, behind only Shakespeare’sworks and the Bible. According to Index Translationum, she remains the most-translated individual author, having been translated into at least 103 languages. And Then There Were None is Christie’s best-selling novel, with 100 million sales to date, making it the world’s best-selling mystery ever, and one of the best-selling books of all time. Christie’s stage play The Mousetrap holds the world record for longest initial run. It opened at the Ambassadors Theatrein the West End on 25 November 1952, and as of April 2019 is still running after more than 27,000 performances.
In 1955, Christie was the first recipient of the Mystery Writers of America’s highest honour, the Grand Master Award. Later the same year, Witness for the Prosecution received an Edgar Award by the MWA for Best Play. In 2013, The Murder of Roger Ackroydwas voted the best crime novel ever by 600 fellow writers of the Crime Writers’ Association. On 15 September 2015, coinciding with her 125th birthday, And Then There Were None was named the “World’s Favourite Christie” in a vote sponsored by the author’s estate. Most of her books and short stories have been adapted for television, radio, video games and comics, and more than thirty feature films have been based on her work.
Life and careerEdit
Childhood and adolescence: 1890–1910Edit
Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born on 15 September 1890 into a wealthy upper-middle-class family in Torquay, Devon. She was the youngest of three children born to Frederick Alvah (“Fred”) Miller, “a gentleman of substance”, and his wife Clarissa Margaret (“Clara”) Miller née Boehmer.:1–4:16
Christie’s mother Clara was born in Dublin[a] in 1854 to Lieutenant (later Captain) Frederick Boehmer (91st Regiment of Foot) and his second wife Mary Ann Boehmer née West. Boehmer died aged 49 of bronchitis (although biographers often claim he was killed in a riding accident) in Jersey in April 1863, leaving his widow to raise Clara and her three brothers alone on a meagre income. Two weeks after Boehmer’s death, Mary’s sister Margaret West married widowed dry goods merchant Nathaniel Frary Miller, a U.S. citizen. To assist Mary financially, the newlyweds agreed to foster nine year old Clara. The family settled in Timperley, Cheshire.Margaret and Nathaniel had no children together, but Nathaniel had a seventeen-year-old son, Fred Miller, from his previous marriage. Fred was born in New York City and travelled extensively after leaving his Swiss boarding school. He and Clara eventually formed a romantic attachment and were married in St Peter’s Church, Notting Hill, in April 1878.:2–5
Fred and Clara’s first child, Margaret Frary (“Madge”), was born in Torquay in 1879, where the couple were renting lodgings. Their second child, Louis Montant (“Monty”), was born in Morristown, New Jersey, in 1880while they were making an extended visit to the United States. When Fred’s father died in 1869, he left Clara £2000; they used this money to purchase the leasehold of a villa in Torquay named Ashfield in which to raise their family. It was here that their third and final child, Agatha, was born in 1890.:6–7
Christie as a girl, date unknown
Christie described her childhood as “very happy”.:3 She was surrounded by a series of strong and independent women from an early age.:14 She lived primarily in Devon, but made occasional visits to the homes of her step-grandmother/great-aunt Margaret Miller in