The Intriguing Dame
If you’re a fan of mystery, then you’ve no doubt read an Agatha Christie or two. My love of mystery began with Nancy Drew, but when I graduated to grown-up mysteries, Agatha’s Hercule Poirot was the first thing I reached for. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was and still is one of my favorite mysteries.
But where did Agatha’s talent and inspiration come from? Who was she? Do you know anything about her other than the fact that she was a great mystery writer? Here are a few cool tidbits you might enjoy:
She was born September 15, 1890 into a very wealthy family, the youngest of three children. She was homeschooled by her father and her governess, but her mother was a great storyteller who loved to make up stories for her. Her mother didn’t want her to learn to read until she was eight, but Agatha was bored and loved stories so she taught herself to read by the time she was five. As the youngest child with two much older siblings, Agatha spent a lot of time alone and liked to make up her own stories and use her imagination.
During World War I, Agatha took a job at a hospital dispensary and completed the exam of the Society of Apothecaries, no doubt how she became a master of poisons. Bored with her work, she started imagining detective stories and wrote her first Hercule Poirot novel (The Mysterious Affair at Styles) on a bet from her older sister.
She found inspiration all around her, while shopping or eavesdropping on conversations. She always had a notebook handy and kept track of passing ideas and plots so she wouldn’t lose them. She often created her plot in her mind while washing dinner dishes; she said it helped her to focus and think.
In 1914 she married Col. Archibald Christie, a fighter pilot in the Royal Flying Corps. They were married for 12 years and had one child, Rosalind. After 12 years of marriage, Col. Christie confessed that he was in love with another woman that he had been having an affair with and asked for a divorce.
This revelation came shortly after the death of Agatha’s mother and in her despair, Agatha completely disappeared for several days, leaving her daughter with the household help. Her car was found abandoned and a search crew of divers and hound dogs were brought out to search for her. Search and rescue teams even searched by plane. Her disappearance made headlines and authorities searched for her for 11 days until finally discovering her at the Harrogate hotel, registered under her husband’s mistress’s name. She claimed to be so distraught that she had no memory of leaving home and the time that she was gone; it was never spoken of again.
After recovering from her breakdown and getting back to writing, she met and married Max Mallowan, an archeologist she met on a trip, in 1930. They were happily married until her death at the age of 85 in 1976.
In 1955, Agatha was awarded the highest honor from the Mystery Writers of America, The Grand Master Award. She was the first recipient of this honor. To this day, she remains the best-selling novelist of all time by Guinness World Records, selling over 2 billion copies of her books.
In 1971, she was awarded a high honor from her country, becoming Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie of the British Empire.
Agatha was a storyteller of the greatest proportions, becoming quite an accomplished and successful writer, no small task for a woman during that time. Even though I’ve read her work over and over again, I always love coming back to her familiar characters and great stories!
Do you have a favorite Agatha Christie story? If so, please share with me in the comments, I’d love to hear it!