Agatha Christie Biography & Facts
Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, (née Miller; 15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976) was an English writer known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, particularly those revolving around fictional detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. She also wrote the world's longest-running play, the murder mystery The Mousetrap, which has been performed in the West End since 1952. A writer during the "Golden Age of Detective Fiction", Christie has been called the "Queen of Crime". She also wrote six novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott. In 1971, she was made a Dame (DBE) by Queen Elizabeth II for her contributions to literature. Guinness World Records lists Christie as the best-selling fiction writer of all time, her novels having sold more than two billion copies.
Christie was born into a wealthy upper middle class family in Torquay, Devon, and was largely home-schooled. She was initially an unsuccessful writer with six consecutive rejections, but this changed in 1920 when The Mysterious Affair at Styles, featuring detective Hercule Poirot, was published. Her first husband was Archibald Christie; they married in 1914 and had one child before divorcing in 1928. Following the breakdown of her marriage in 1926 she made international headlines by going missing for eleven days. During both World Wars, she served in hospital dispensaries, acquiring a thorough knowledge of the poisons that featured in many of her novels, short stories, and plays. Following her marriage to archaeologist Max Mallowan in 1930, she spent several months each year on digs in the Middle East and used her first-hand knowledge of this profession in her fiction.
According to UNESCO's Index Translationum, she remains the most-translated individual author. Her novel And Then There Were None is one of the top-selling books of all time, with approximately 100 million copies sold. Christie's stage play The Mousetrap holds the world record for the longest initial run. It opened at the Ambassadors Theatre in the West End on 25 November 1952, and by September 2018 there had been more than 27,500 performances. The play was temporarily closed in March 2020 because of COVID-19 lockdowns in London before it reopened in May 2021.
In 1955, Christie was the first recipient of the Mystery Writers of America's Grand Master Award. Later that year, Witness for the Prosecution received an Edgar Award for best play. In 2013, she was voted the best crime writer and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd the best crime novel ever by 600 professional novelists of the Crime Writers' Association. In September 2015, And Then There Were None was named the "World's Favourite Christie" in a vote sponsored by the author's estate. Many of Christie's books and short stories have been adapted for television, radio, video games, and graphic novels. More than 30 feature films are based on her work.
Life and career
Childhood and adolescence: 1890–1907
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 Miller, "a gentleman of substance", and his wife Clarissa Margaret "Clara" Miller, née Boehmer.: 1–4 Christie's mother Clara was born in Dublin in 1854 to British Army officer Frederick Boehmer and his wife Mary Ann Boehmer née West. Boehmer died in Jersey in 1863, leaving his widow to raise Clara and her brothers on a meagre income.: 10 Two weeks after Boehmer's death, Mary's sister Margaret West married widowed dry goods merchant Nathaniel Frary Miller, a US citizen. To assist Mary financially, they agreed to foster nine-year-old Clara; the family settled in Timperley, Cheshire. Margaret and Nathaniel had no children together, but Nathaniel had a 17-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.: 12 He and Clara were married in London in 1878.: 2–5 Their first child, Margaret Frary ("Madge"), was born in Torquay in 1879.: 6 The second, Louis Montant ("Monty"), was born in Morristown, New Jersey, in 1880, while the family was on an extended visit to the United States.: 7 When Fred's father died in 1869, he left Clara £2,000 (approximately equivalent to £200,000 in 2021); in 1881 they used this to buy the leasehold of a villa in Torquay named Ashfield. It was here that their third and last child, Agatha, was born in 1890.: 6–7 She described her childhood as "very happy".: 3 The Millers lived mainly in Devon but often visited her step-grandmother/great-aunt Margaret Miller in Ealing and maternal grandmother Mary Boehmer in Bayswater.: 26–31 A year was spent abroad with her family, in the French Pyrenees, Paris, Dinard, and Guernsey.: 15, 24–25 Because her siblings were so much older, and there were few children in their neighbourhood, Christie spent much of her time playing alone with her pets and imaginary companions.: 9–10, 86–88 She eventually made friends with other girls in Torquay, noting that "one of the highlights of my existence" was her appearance with them in a youth production of Gilbert and Sullivan's The Yeomen of the Guard, in which she played the hero, Colonel Fairfax.: 23–27
According to Christie, Clara believed she should not learn to read until she was eight; thanks to her curiosity, she was reading by the age of four.: 13 Her sister had been sent to a boarding school, but their mother insisted that Christie receive her education at home. As a result, her parents and sister supervised her studies in reading, writing and basic arithmetic, a subject she particularly enjoyed. They also taught her music, and she learned to play the piano and the mandolin.: 8, 20–21 Christie was a voracious reader from an early age. Among her earliest memories were of reading children's books by Mrs Molesworth and Edith Nesbit. When a little older, she moved on to the surreal verse of Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll.: 18–19 As an adolescent, she enjoyed works by Anthony Hope, Walter Scott, Charles Dickens, and Alexandre Dumas.: 111, 136–37 In April 1901, aged 10, she wrote her first poem, "The Cow Slip".By 1901, her father's health had deteriorated, because of what he believed were heart problems.: 33 Fred died in November 1901 from pneumonia and chronic kidney disease. Christie later said that her father's death when she was 11 marked the end of her childhood.: 32–33 The family's financial situation had, by this time, worsened. Madge married the year after their father's death and moved to Cheadle, Cheshire; Monty was overseas, serving in a British regiment.: 43, 49 Christie now lived alone at Ashfield with her mother. In 1902, she began attending Miss Guyer's Girls' School in Torquay but found it difficult to adjust to the disciplined atmos.... Discover the Agatha Christie popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Agatha Christie books.