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Agatha Christie

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Agatha Christie

Dame Agatha Christie DBE (15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976) was a British crime writer of novels, short stories, and plays. She also wrote romances under the name Mary Westmacott, but she is best remembered for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections (especially those featuring Hercule Poirot or Miss Jane Marple), and her successful West End plays.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Christie is the best-selling novelist of all time. Her novels have sold roughly four billion copies, and her estate claims that her works rank third, after those of William Shakespeare and the Bible, as the most widely published books.[1] According to Index Translationum, Christie is the most translated individual author, with only the collective corporate works of Walt Disney Productions surpassing her.[2] Her books have been translated into at least 103 languages.[3]
Agatha Christie published two autobiographies: a posthumous one covering childhood to old age; and another chronicling several seasons of archaeological excavation in Syria and Iraq with her second husband, archaeologist Max Mallowan. The latter was published in 1946 with the title, Come, Tell Me How You Live.
Christie's stage play The Mousetrap holds the record for the longest initial run: it opened at the Ambassadors Theatre in London on 25 November 1952 and as of 2011 is still running after more than 24,000 performances. In 1955, Christie was the first recipient of the Mystery Writers of America's highest honour, the Grand Master Award, and in the same year Witness for the Prosecution was given an Edgar Award by the MWA for Best Play. Many of her books and short stories have been filmed, some more than once (Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile and 4.50 From Paddington for instance), and many have been adapted for television, radio, video games and comics.
In 1968, Booker Books, a subsidiary of the agri-industrial conglomerate Booker-McConnell, bought a 51 percent stake in Agatha Christie Limited, the private company that Christie had set up for tax purposes. Booker later increased its stake to 64 percent. In 1998, Booker sold its shares to Chorion, a company whose portfolio also includes the literary estates of Enid Blyton and Dennis Wheatley.[4]
In 2004, a 5,000-word story entitled The Incident of the Dog's Ball was found in the attic of the author's daughter. This story was the original version of the novel Dumb Witness. It was published in Britain in September 2009 in John Curran's Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years Of Mysteries, alongside another newly discovered Poirot story called The Capture of Cerberus (a story with the same title, but a different plot, to that published in The Labours Of Hercules).[5] On 10 November 2009, Reuters announced that The Incident of the Dog's Ball will be published by The Strand Magazine.
Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born in Torquay, Devon, England, UK. Her mother, Clarissa Margaret Boehmer, was the daughter of a British Army captain[7] but had been sent as a child to live with her own mother's sister, who was the second wife of a wealthy American. Eventually Margaret married her stepfather's son from his first marriage, Frederick Alvah Miller, an American stockbroker. Thus, the two women Agatha called "Grannie" were sisters. Despite her father's nationality as a "New Yorker" and her aunt's relation to the Pierpont Morgans, Agatha never claimed United States citizenship or connection.[8]
Agatha was the youngest of three. The Millers had two other children: Margaret Frary Miller (1879–1950), called Madge, who was 11 years Agatha's senior, and Louis Montant Miller (1880–1929), called Monty, 10 years older than Agatha. Later, in her autobiography, Agatha would refer to her brother as "an amiable scapegrace of a brother".[9]
Agatha described herself as having had a very happy childhood. While she never received any formal schooling, she did not lack an education. Her mother believed children should not learn to read until they were eight, but Agatha taught herself to read at four. Her father taught her mathematics via story problems, and the family played question-and-answer games much like today's Trivial Pursuit. She had piano lessons, which she liked, and dance lessons, which she did not. When she could not learn French through formal instruction, the family hired a young woman who spoke nothing but French to be her nanny and companion. Agatha made up stories from a very early age and invented a number of imaginary friends and paracosms. One of them, "The School", with a dozen or so imaginary young women of widely varying temperaments, lasted well into her adult years.[10]
During the First World War, she worked at a hospital as a nurse; she liked the profession, calling it "one of the most rewarding professions that anyone can follow".[11] She later worked at a hospital pharmacy, a job that influenced her work, as many of the murders in her books are carried out with poison.
Despite a turbulent courtship, on Christmas Eve 1914 Agatha married Archibald Christie, an aviator in the Royal Flying Corps.[12] The couple had one daughter, Rosalind Hicks. Agatha's first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, was published in 1920. When Archie was offered a job organizing a world tour to promote the British Empire Exhibition the couple left their daughter with Agatha's mother and sister and travelled to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii.[13] The couple learnt to surf prone in South Africa and in Waikiki became some of the first Britons to surf standing up.[14]
Author Jared Cade interviewed numerous witnesses and relatives for his sympathetic biography, Agatha Christie and the Missing Eleven Days, and provided a substantial amount of evidence to suggest that Christie planned the entire disappearance to embarrass her husband, never thinking it would escalate into the melodrama it became.[18]
The Christies divorced in 1928. During their marriage, Agatha published six novels, a collection of short stories, and a number of short stories in magazines. In 1930, Christie married archaeologist Max Mallowan (Sir Max from 1968) after joining him in an archaeological dig. Their marriage was especially happy in the early years and remained so until Christie's death in 1976.[19] Max introduced her to various wines (“But you never drink ... Heaven knows, I’ve tried hard enough with you”), but acknowledged defeat, and had the battle of obtaining water for her in restaurants. She also tried unsuccessfully to make herself like cigarettes by smoking one after lunch and one after dinner every day for six months.[20]
Christie frequently used settings which were familiar to her for her stories. Christie's travels with Mallowan contributed background to several of her novels set in the Middle East. Other novels (such as And Then There Were None) were set in and around Torquay, where she was born. Christie's 1934 novel Murder on the Orient Express was written in the Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul, Turkey, the southern terminus of the railway. The hotel maintains Christie's room as a memorial to the author.[21] The Greenway Estate in Devon, acquired by the couple as a summer residence in 1938, is now in the care of the National Trust.
During the Second World War, Christie worked in the pharmacy at University College Hospital, London, where she acquired a knowledge of poisons that she put to good use in her post-war crime novels. For example, the use of thallium as a poison was suggested to her by UCH Chief Pharmacist Harold Davis (later appointed Chief Pharmacist at the UK Ministry of Health), and in The Pale Horse, published in 1961, she employed it to dispatch a series of victims, the first clue to the murder method coming from the victims' loss of hair. So accurate was her description of thallium poisoning that on at least one occasion it helped solve a case that was baffling doctors.[23]
To honour her many literary works, she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1956 New Year Honours.[24] The next year, she became the President of the Detection Club.[25] In the 1971 New Year Honours she was promoted Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire,[26] three years after her husband had been knighted for his archeological work in 1968.[27] They were one of the few married couples where both partners were honoured in their own right. From 1968, due to her husband's knighthood, Christie could also be styled as Lady Mallowan.
From 1971 to 1974, Christie's health began to fail, although she continued to write. In 1975, sensing her increasing weakness, Christie signed over the rights of her most successful play, The Mousetrap, to her grandson.[19] Recently, using experimental textual tools of analysis, Canadian researchers have suggested that Christie may have begun to suffer from Alzheimer's disease or other dementia.
Agatha Christie died on 12 January 1976 at age 85 from natural causes at her Winterbrook House in the north of Cholsey parish, adjoining Wallingford in Oxfordshire (formerly part of Berkshire). She is buried in the nearby churchyard of St Mary's, Cholsey. Christie's only child, Rosalind Margaret Hicks, died, also aged 85, on 28 October 2004 from natural causes in Torbay, Devon.[32] Christie's grandson, Mathew Prichard, was heir to the copyright to some of his grandmother's literary work (including The Mousetrap) and is still associated with Agatha Christie Limited.
Agatha Christie's first novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles was published in 1920 and introduced the long-running character detective Hercule Poirot, who appeared in 33 of Christie's novels and 54 short stories.
Her other well known character, Miss Marple, was introduced in The Tuesday Night Club in 1927 (short story) and was based on women like Christie's grandmother and her "cronies".[33]
During the Second World War, Christie wrote two novels, Curtain, and Sleeping Murder, intended as the last cases of these two great detectives, Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple. Both books were sealed in a bank vault for over thirty years and were released for publication by Christie only at the end of her life, when she realised that she could not write any more novels. These publications came on the heels of the success of the film version of Murder on the Orient Express in 1974.
Like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with Sherlock Holmes, Christie was to become increasingly tired of her detective Poirot. In fact, by the end of the 1930s, Christie confided to her diary that she was finding Poirot “insufferable," and by the 1960s she felt that he was "an ego-centric creep." However, unlike Doyle, Christie resisted the temptation to kill her detective off while he was still popular. She saw herself as an entertainer whose job was to produce what the public liked, and the public liked Poirot.[34]
Christie never wrote a novel or short story featuring both Poirot and Miss Marple. In a recording, recently rediscovered and released in 2008, Christie revealed the reason for this: "Hercule Poirot, a complete egoist, would not like being taught his business or having suggestions made to him by an elderly spinster lady".[33]
Following the great success of Curtain, Dame Agatha gave permission for the release of Sleeping Murder sometime in 1976 but died in January 1976 before the book could be released. This may explain some of the inconsistencies compared to the rest of the Marple series — for example, Colonel Arthur Bantry, husband of Miss Marple's friend Dolly, is still alive and well in Sleeping Murder despite the fact he is noted as having died in books published earlier. It may be that Christie simply did not have time to revise the manuscript before she died. Miss Marple fared better than Poirot, since after solving the mystery in Sleeping Murder she returns home to her regular life in St. Mary Mead.
On an edition of Desert Island Discs in 2007, Brian Aldiss claimed that Agatha Christie told him that she wrote her books up to the last chapter and then decided who the most unlikely suspect was. She would then go back and make the necessary changes to "frame" that person.[35] The evidence of Christie's working methods, as described by successive biographers, contradicts this claim.[citation needed]
Others have criticized Christie on political grounds, particularly with respect to her conversations about and portrayals of Jews. Christopher Hitchens, in his autobiography, describes a dinner with Christie and her husband, Max Mallowan, which became increasingly uncomfortable as the night wore on, and where "The anti-Jewish flavour of the talk was not to be ignored or overlooked, or put down to heavy humour or generational prejudice. It was vividly unpleasant..."[37]
Christie occasionally inserted stereotyped descriptions of characters into her work, particularly before the end of the Second World War (when such attitudes were more commonly expressed publicly), and particularly in regard to Italians, Jews, and non-Europeans. For example, in the first editions of the collection The Mysterious Mr Quin (1930), in the short story "The Soul of the Croupier," she described "Hebraic men with hook-noses wearing rather flamboyant jewellery"; in later editions the passage was edited to describe "sallow men" wearing same. To contrast with the more stereotyped descriptions, Christie often characterised the "foreigners" in such a way as to make the reader understand and sympathise with them; this is particularly true of her Jewish characters, who are seldom actually criminals. (See, for example, the character of Oliver Manders in Three Act Tragedy.)[38]
Several biographical programs have been made, such as the 2004 BBC television programme entitled Agatha Christie: A Life in Pictures, in which she is portrayed by Olivia Williams, Anna Massey, and Bonnie Wright. Christie has also been portrayed fictionally. Some of these have explored and offered accounts of Christie's disappearance in 1926, including the 1979 film Agatha (with Vanessa Redgrave, where she sneaks away to plan revenge against her husband) and the Doctor Who episode "The Unicorn and the Wasp" (with Fenella Woolgar, her disappearance being the result of her suffering a temporary breakdown due to a brief psychic link being formed between her and an alien). Others, such as 1980 Hungarian film, Kojak Budapesten (not to be confused with the 1986 comedy by the same name) create their own scenarios involving Christie's criminal skill.[39] In the 1986 TV play, Murder by the Book, Christie herself (Dame Peggy Ashcroft) murdered one of her fictional-turned-real characters, Poirot. The heroine of Liar-Soft's 2008 visual novel Shikkoku no Sharnoth: What a Beautiful Tomorrow, Mary Clarissa Christie, is based on the real-life Christie. Christie features as a character in Gaylord Larsen's Dorothy and Agatha and The London Blitz Murders' by Max Allan Collins.[citation needed]
Christie has also been parodied on screen, such as in the film Murder by Indecision, which featured the character "Agatha Crispy".…...

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Agatha Christie

...The Enduring Appeal of Agatha Christie The essay, "The Enduring Appeal of Agatha Christie" demonstrates a well-written and effective essay due to its clear essay structure. First of all, the essay begins with the question, "Who does not enjoy a good mystery?"By the author using this rhetorical question, it grasps the reader’s attention right away. The author also starts off generic and gradually gets more specific in the introduction. The thesis statement expresses that Agatha Christie appeals to most people because of the strong characters, interesting settings, and her strong morality in her novels. In the author doing this, it follows a clear essay structure which makes it effective. Secondly, the body paragraphs support the thesis by providing examples of Christie's works and how they are expressed in the same order that was given in the introduction. Specifically, in the first paragraph the author explains Agatha Christies characters, Hercule Poitrot and Miss Jane. In the second paragraph there are examples of interesting settings and finally the author expresses his opinion on her morality in the third paragraph. This clearly shows that the author is well organized because the body paragraphs follow the same order as they were listed in the thesis statement. Also, specific examples were used to support each of the points which reinforced the effectiveness of this essay. Lastly, the author had strong arguments which made the essay very effective. An example of this......

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