Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie was born in Torquay, Devon, England on September 15, 1890. She was an English author best known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, which feature fictional detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. She also wrote six novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott and the world’s longest-running play, “The Mousetrap,” which has been performed in the West End since 1952. She was knighted in 1971 for her contributions to literature. Christie is the best-selling fiction author of all time according to Guinness World Records, with more than two billion copies sold. Let us honor this literary legend’s special day.
Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie grew up in Torquay, Devon, in a wealthy upper-middle-class family. She was largely home-schooled. She had six consecutive rejections as a writer, but that changed in 1920 when “The Mysterious Affair at Styles,” starring detective Hercule Poirot, was published. Archibald Christie was her first husband, and they married in 1914 and had one child before divorcing in 1928. Christie worked in hospital dispensaries during both World Wars, gaining a thorough understanding of the poisons that she used in many of her novels, short stories, and plays. She spent several months each year on digs in the Middle East after marrying archaeologist Max Mallowan in 1930, and she used her first-hand knowledge of the profession in her fiction.
Christie is still the most-translated author, according to “Index Translationum.” With over 100 million copies sold, her novel “And Then There Were None” is one of the best-selling books of all time. The world record for the longest initial run belongs to Christie’s stage play “The Mousetrap” which premiered on November 25, 1952, at the Ambassadors Theatre in London’s West End and had over 27,500 performances by September 2018. Due to COVID-19 lockdowns, the play was closed in March 2020 and reopened in May 2021.
Christie received the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America for the first time in 1955. “Witness for the Prosecution” won an Edgar Award for best play later that year. In 2013, 600 professional novelists from the Crime Writers’ Association voted her the best crime writer and “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” the best crime novel ever. “And Then There Were None” was voted the “World’s Favorite Christie” in a poll sponsored by the author’s estate in September 2015. Christie’s books and short stories have been adapted for television, radio, video games, and graphic novels, and her work has been adapted into more than 30 feature films.
On Christmas Eve, while on home leave, Christie marries Archibald Christie at Emmanuel Church in Clifton, Bristol.
After six consecutive rejections, Christie publishes her first novel, "The Mysterious Affair at Styles," featuring detective Hercule Poirot.
After her divorce, Christie marries Max Mallowan, a British archaeologist who is 14 years her junior.
Christie publishes "And Then There Were None," one of the most difficult of her works to write.
Christie's murder mystery play "The Mousetrap" premieres in the West End of London on October 6.
Christie is designated Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1956 New Year Honors in recognition of her many literary works.
Christie is promoted to Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1971 New Year Honors, three years after her husband was knighted for his archaeological work.
Why We Love Agatha Christie
She was against violence
Christie's preferred method of murder is poison or hitting her victim over the head. When possible, she avoids using violent methods of murder, and she rarely uses a gun. Bystanders to crimes never shoot the attacker but instead tackle him to the ground. Hercule Poirot is a pacifist who does not carry a gun.
She was ingenious and unique
The majority of Christie's novels have extremely intriguing and complex plots; they always contain enough elements to intrigue the reader's interest to the point where they feel compelled to read the book. Most of the crimes mentioned in her novels take place in such diverse settings that readers are eager to learn more about how they occurred.
She is a mystery
It is no surprise that the author of "The Mousetrap," the world's longest-running play, has a theatrical background. Even in her autobiography, she never revealed the reason for her disappearance in 1926. In 1979, the speculative film "Agatha," starring Vanessa Redgrave as Christie, was released after her death.
5 Surprising Facts
She drew her characters from real life
Hercule Poirot, Christie's most famous character, was inspired by a real-life Belgian police officer — Christie's proclivity for stealing real-life personalities, on the other hand, was often motivated by her own frustrations.
She loved archaeology
Christie's interest in archaeology began when her mother's illness forced the family to relocate to Egypt's more arid climate, but her interest blossomed after her second marriage to prominent English archaeologist Sir Max Mallowan.
Her mother forbade her from reading
Christie's mother was rumored to be against her daughter learning to read until she was eight years old and insisted on Christie being home-schooled.
She was dared to become a novelist
Madge, Christie's sister, challenged her to take on a novel-length project; Christie accepted the challenge and wrote "The Mysterious Affair at Styles," which featured Hercule Poirot.
She once disappeared for 10 days
Christie vanished without a trace in 1926; she’d just driven out of town to a spa, possibly to distract herself from her chaotic home life.
Agatha Christie FAQs
Which Agatha Christie book should I read first?
Christie’s literary debut, “The Mysterious Affair at Styles,” was published almost 100 years ago, making it a great pick to start if you want to read her works in order.
Where do Agatha Christie's books take place?
Christie is a prolific writer who has created stories set in a wide range of settings, from the traditional country house to the unexpected place of worship.
How did Agatha Christie die?
Christie died peacefully of natural causes at Winterbrook House on January 12, 1976, at the age of 85.
Agatha Christie’s birthday dates