Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, DBE, was a prolific author of plays, short stories, and novels. She was born in Torquay, Devon, in the southwest part of England, on September 15, 1890. She was educated at home by her mother, who also encouraged her to write.
Christie published her first book, The Mysterious Affairs at Styles, in 1920. It featured one of her most famous characters, Hercule Poirot, a Belgian detective. By the time of Christie’s death in 1976, Hercule Poirot had appeared in thirty-three of Christie’s novels, in one of her plays, and in no less than fifty of her short stories.
Christie introduced another well-loved character in 1927 when she wrote “The Tuesday Night Club,” a short story that would be the first chapter of The Thirteen Problems in 1932. The story starred Ms. Jane Marple, an elderly spinster whose character was based on Christie’s own step-grandmother and her friends. Ms. Marple appeared in twelve novels and twenty short stories.
Though Hercule Poirot’s titles severely outnumber that of Ms. Marple’s, it should be noted that it was the latter and not the former whom Christie herself had adored. She wrote that she found Poirot insufferable, and she became tired of him the same way Sir Arthur Conan Doyle grew tired of his Sherlock Holmes—though unlike Doyle, she didn’t choose to kill off her character.
Christie was dubbed the Queen of Crime because of her mastery in tales of crime and mystery. In 1971, she was made a dame for her literary contributions. She had introduced a great many motifs in mystery writing and had even built the tropes around which modern mystery revolves: someone commits a crime, multiple suspects are rounded up, each has secrets, and the detective uncovers these secrets bit by bit as the story progresses, with a shocking twist revealed toward the end.
Her last two stories were published near the end of her life per her wishes. The two were intended to be the last cases for both Hercule Poirot and Ms. Marple as Christie knew she couldn’t write anymore. Poirot’s Curtain was published in September 1975 and Ms. Marple’s Sleeping Murder posthumously in 1976.
Christie is considered to be the best-selling novelist of all time, having sold around two billion copies of her work worldwide. She remains the world’s most-translated author, and her works are among the most widely published, third only to the Bible and the works of the Bard himself.
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