Agatha Christie always gave the reason for writing her first book
down to a bet she had with her sister that she could write a crime
novel. She used her knowledge from her time spent as a nurse in
a hospital pharmacy during the First World War and the result was
The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Christie’s first book was
by no means a runaway success. In fact, it languished in an agent’s
office for nearly a year before it saw the light of day. After some
alterations, the book was finally published in 1920.
Agatha Christie published a book a year but it wasn’t until 1926, with the publication of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, that this gifted author became an international star on the crime scene. From then on Agatha Christie was highly prolific and often brought out at least two, if not three books in a year. It wasn’t until her later years that she reduced this output to a mere brought one novel a year!
After her divorce from Archie Christie, she married Sir Max Mallowan who was to remain her husband for the rest of her life. Christie accompanied her husband on a number of expeditions to places like Iraq and Egypt. It was doubtless living in these far-flung settings that gave Christie the inspiration for some of her novels like Murder in Mesopotamia and Appointment with Death.
On the 25th November 1952, Christie’s play, The Mousetrap, opened at the Ambassador’s Theatre in London. It played there until 1974. Then the play transferred to its current home, the St. Martin’s Theatre on Monday 25th March 1974. It is still playing there today and is in its 53rd year (and counting…!), the longest-running play in history.
This year sees a new play by Agatha Christie hitting the West End. And Then There Were None is adapted from one her most famous books. It has already been filmed several times and is being launched during the celebration of Agatha Christie Week from the 12th to the 17th September.
During that week there will also be a debate at the British Library with a panel, which includes Val McDermid. For more details go to www.agathachristie.com
Even nearly thirty years after her death, Agatha Christie is still selling well around the world. She has sold over 1 billion books in the English language and another billion in other languages around the world.
Agatha Christie Mallowan died on the 12th January 1976 at the age of
Review: The Murder at the Vicarage
This book first appeared in 1930 and introduced one of Christie’s best-loved characters, Miss Marple. Well-known actresses like Margaret Rutherford, Angela Lansbury, Helen Hayes and Geraldine McEwan have all portrayed the character of Miss Marple. The most famous and closest portrayal was from the BBC series during the 80’s, which starred Joan Hickson in the main role. Even Agatha Christie herself had said to the actress herself, many years before, that she wished Hickson would one day play Miss Marple.
To celebrate Agatha Christie Week and the 75th anniversary of The Murder of the Vicarage, Christie’s publishers, Harper Collins, are bringing out new facsimile copies of the first three Miss Marple mysteries. Along with Vicarage will come my personal favourite, The Thirteen Problems and The Moving Finger. A murder Is Announced, 4.50 from Paddington and The Body in the Library will be released later in the year along with They Do It With Mirrors and A Pocket Full of Rye.
The book starts with St. Mary Mead’s vicar stating that anyone who murdered Colonel Protheroe would be doing the world at large a service. Not long after this statement the Colonel is found dead, shot through the head with a pistol in the vicar’s study.
It is not long before people are highly suspicious and others start to confess to the crime. As with many of the Christie books, there are always many different strands weaving their way throughout. The characterisation may not be strong in her novels, but Christie was the master when it came to constructing and maintaining a perfectly solid plot. She was legendary for her ‘red herrings’ and, with the exception of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Christie was always credited with treating the reader fairly and giving us all the necessary facts well before the conclusion of the novel.
The Murder at the Vicarage is one of Christie’s most well-known novels and will probably hold no surprises for many people, but it is definitely worth a re-read if you are an old fan like myself. If you are lucky enough to be a new member of the Agatha Christie club, then you will definitely be doing no wrong by cutting your teeth on this marvellous example of Christie expertise. Enjoy!
Reviewed by: C.S.