Career

19 things you didn't know about Agatha Christie

The legendary crime writer was herself the subject of an unusual disappearance.

She's one of the greatest - and most popular - writers of all time, but who was Agatha Christie?
Here are 19 things you may not know about the talented author:
1 Agatha's 1952 hit The Mousetrap holds the record for the longest running play on London's West End, celebrating its 25,000th performance on November 18, 2012. It continues to run to this day.
2 Her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, was written on a dare from her sister Madge. It featured one of her most famous characters to date, Belgian detective Hercule Poirot who would go on to appear in over 30 novels.
3 Agatha believes that twice in her life she 'saw' one of her most famous characters – Hercule Poirot, once having lunch in the Savoy and once on a boat in the Canary Islands.
4 Christie wrote Curtain: Poirot's Last Case 30 years before she released it, keeping his death a secret until 1975. Prior to that, the novel was locked away in a bank vault, heavily insured against possible destruction by Nazi bombs.
5 In 1926, Christie was part of one of the most compelling mysteries of all – her own disappearance. After the shocking revelation that her husband had taken a mistress, the writer went missing for 11 days and was found safely in Harrogate with absolutely no recollection of how she'd gotten there.
6 Among the search party for Christie was two of Britain's greatest crime writers – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes) and Dorothy L. Sayers (The Lord Peter Wimsey), brought in for their expert knowledge.
7 Arthur Conan Doyle took one of Christie's gloves to a celebrated medium hoping that would aid the search. In similar efforts, Dorothy Sayers went to the scene of Agatha's disappearance in search of possible clues. Both writers were unsuccessful.
8 After the disappearance, Christie was diagnosed with psychogenic amnesia but questions still remain over whether whole saga was a publicity stunt or not.
9 Christie was a keen surfer. In 1922 she went travelling with her husband Archie, beginning in South Africa and ending up in Honolulu where the esteemed author could be caught catching a few waves.
10 She was a qualified 'apothecary's assistant' or 'dispenser' with a vast knowledge of poisons. Consequently her expert knowledge allowed her to deploy poison as a murder weapon in her novels with immense precision. Her attention to detail was so exact, leaving her open to the accusation that she'd created a 'how-to' guide for aspiring murderers.
11 Christie and her siblings believed that her mother Clara was a psychic gifted with second sight – the ability to see into the future.
12 She was a dog lover who owned many different dogs throughout the course of her life, her favourite being a short-haired terrier called Peter who later starred in a book call Dumb Witness alongside Hercule Poirot.
13 Two of her pet hates were marmalade pudding and cockroaches.
14 In 1946, Christie personally wrote to Joan Hickson in hopes that one day she would play Miss Marple. Joan, an English actress of theatre, film and television, went on to play Miss Marple in the TV series, 38 years later from 1984 to 1992. She also narrated a number of Miss Marple stories on audio books.
15 As well as Joan Hickson, 10 other actresses have portrayed Miss Marple including Julia McKenzie, Angela Lansbury and Margaret Rutherford.
16 Hercule Poirot has been portrayed by 21 actors including Albert Finney, Peter Ustinov, Ian Holm, Alfred Molina and David Suchet
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17 She accepted the Presidency of the prominent Detection Club in 1958 on the strict understanding she would never have to make a speech.
18 She described The Mystery of the Blue Train as 'easily the worst book I ever wrote'.
19 One of Agatha Christie's most well-known and controversial novels is The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. It was a game-changer in the genre as an innovative plot twist reveals that the murderer is actually the narrator. Christie drew inspiration from an idea given to her by brother-in-law, James Watts, who suggested that one day there could be a novel in which the criminal could be a 'Dr. Watson' type of character.
The Agatha Christie pop-up starts August 1 on SKY channel 207