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My Life: Agatha Christie

agatha_christie_by_mishanerAgatha Mary Clarissa Miller, was born on the 15th September 1890, at Torquay, in Devon, to Frederick and Clarissa Miller.  Being one of three children, she had an older sister Madge, and a brother Monty.  Sadly in 1901, her childhood came to an abrupt end, when her father died, leaving her mother to raise them.

Writing was a family trait, as her sister Madge sold several short stories in her teenage years.

Agatha had received much encouragement in her early years from Rudyard Kipling, leading to her first publication; a poem printed in a local newspaper, at the age of 11, which was to be the start of her writing career.

In 1912, she became engaged to an army officer, but this was not to last, for while he was away in Hong Kong, she met Lieutenant Archibald Christie, formerly of the Royal Artillery and later of the Royal Flying Corps.  At the out break of the First World War, Agatha wanted to do her part, joined the Voluntary Aid detachment, and married Archibald whilst he was on leave at Christmas.

The inspiration of the Belgium refugees she came into contact with, whilst working at the Red Cross Hospital in Torquay, led to the character of ‘Hercules Poirot’, the famous Belgian detective, which was to feature in many of her books.

In 1919, Agatha gave birth to a baby daughter, Rosalind, and in 1920, whilst the Christie’s lived in London, her first book was published.  This was quickly followed by another in 1922, ‘The Secret Adversary’.  From then on she published one almost every year there afterwards, and stated that she ate apples in the Bath, whilst dreaming up plots.

Sadly, by the time she published her sixth novel in 1926, ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd’, her marriage was all but over, and she had become an established author.

The events following her disappearance made her a household name world-wide, guaranteeing the success of her books for years to come.  Late one December evening in 1926, Agatha left her home in Sunningdale, Berkshire.  Shortly there afterwards, her car was found abandoned, leading to a nation-wide search for her, even local ponds and lakes were dragged in search of her body.  At one point, even her husband was suspected of murdering his wife, following a letter received by the Chief of Police, hinting her life was in danger.  She was later found, staying in a Yorkshire Hotel, booked in under the name of ‘Theresa Neele’, the same name as her husband’s mistress.

According to Archibald Christie, Agatha was suffering from amnesia, but she had advertised to the world, that her husband was having an affair, leading to their divorce in 1928.

The distinguished archaeologist Max Mallowan, married Agatha in 1930, and she was to spend her remaining years travelling to and from the middle east with him, cataloguing his finds, from excavation sites in Syria and Iraq and gathering material for her books.  Agatha turned to playwriting, whilst still turning out a few novels each year.  Her famous mystery play ‘Mousetrap’, was originally entitled ‘Three Blind Mice’, was first performed on radio.  Its West End debut was on the 28th November 1952, it must have been a proud day for her.  As a ninth birthday present to her grandson; Mathew, she signed the rights of the ‘Mousetrap’ over to him.

Agatha became Lady Mallowan in 1968 when her husband was knighted, and Dame Agatha Christie in 1971.

By the time of her death in 1976, she had published 78 crime novels, 19 plays, an assortment of short stories and poems, plus six novels under her pen name ‘Mary Westmacott’, and her biography which was published in 1977, the year following her death.

Agatha remained a shy person, and disliked personal publicity.  She believed she was here to entertain her readers, and she certainly did that!

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