Agatha Christie was an English crime novelist, short story writer and playwright.
Let’s find out some fun facts about her!
1. Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born on 15 September 1890, into a wealthy upper middle-class family in Ashfield, Torquay, Devon.
2. Her mother, Clara Boehmer, was an Englishwoman who was born in Belfast in 1854 to Captain Frederick Boehmer and Mary Ann West, the couple’s only daughter. Clara Boehmer had four brothers, one of whom died young.
3. Captain Boehmer was killed in a riding accident while stationed on Jersey in April 1863, leaving Mary Ann (Agatha Christie’s grandmother) to raise her children alone on a meagre income.
4. Under financial strain, she sent Clara (Christie’s mother) to live with her aunt Margaret Miller (née West), who had married a wealthy American, Nathaniel Frary Miller, in 1863.
5. The couple lived in Prinsted, West Sussex. Clara stayed with Margaret, and there she met her future husband, an American stockbroker named Frederick Alvah Miller, who was the son of Nathaniel.
6. Christie’s father Frederick was a member of the American upper class, and had been sent to Switzerland for his education.
7. He was considered personable and friendly by those who knew him.
8. He soon developed a romantic relationship with Clara, and they were married in April 1878.
9. Their first child, Margaret Frary Miller (1879–1950), was born in Torquay, where the couple were renting lodgings, while their second, Louis “Monty” Montant (1880–1929), was born in the U.S. state of New York, where Frederick was on a business trip.
10. Clara soon purchased a villa in Torquay named “Ashfield” in which to raise her family, and it was here that her third and final child, Agatha, was born.
11. Christie described her childhood as “very happy”.
12. She was surrounded by a series of strong and independent women from an early age.
13. Her time was spent alternating between her home in Devon, her step-grandmother and aunt’s house in Ealing, West London, and parts of Southern Europe, where her family would holiday during the winter.
14. Agatha was raised in a household with various esoteric beliefs and, like her siblings, believed that her mother Clara was a psychic with the ability of second sight.
15. Her mother insisted that she receive a home education, and so her parents were responsible for teaching her to read and write and to be able to perform basic arithmetic, a subject that she particularly enjoyed. They also taught her about music, and she learned to play both the piano and the mandolin.
16. Christie was a voracious reader from an early age. Among her earliest memories were those of reading the children’s books written by Mrs Molesworth, including The Adventures of Herr Baby (1881), Christmas Tree Land (1897), and The Magic Nuts (1898).
17. She also read the work of Edith Nesbit, including The Story of the Treasure Seekers (1899), The Phoenix and the Carpet (1903), and The Railway Children (1906).
18. When a little older, she moved on to reading the surreal verse of Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll.
19. Much of her childhood was spent alone and separate from other children, although she spent much time with her pets, whom she adored.
20. She eventually made friends with a group of other girls in Torquay, and she noted that “one of the highlights of my existence” was her appearance with them in a youth production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Yeomen of the Guard, in which she played the hero, Colonel Fairfax.
21. This was her last operatic role for, as she later wrote, “an experience that you really enjoyed should never be repeated.”
22. Her father was often ill, suffering from a series of heart attacks, and he died in November 1901, aged 55. His death left the family devastated and in an uncertain economic situation.
23. Clara and Agatha continued to live together in their Torquay home, Madge had moved to Abney Hall in Cheadle, Cheshire, with her new husband, and Monty had joined the army and been sent to South Africa to fight in the Boer War.
24. Agatha later claimed that her father’s death, occurring when she was eleven years old, marked the end of her childhood.
25. In 1902, Agatha was sent to receive a formal education at Miss Guyer’s Girls School in Torquay, but found it difficult to adjust to the disciplined atmosphere.
26. In 1905, she was sent to Paris where she was educated in three pensions – Mademoiselle Cabernet’s, Les Marroniers, and then Miss Dryden’s – the last of which served primarily as a finishing school.
27. She served in a Devon hospital during the First World War, tending to troops coming back from the trenches, before marrying and starting a family in London.
28. She was initially an unsuccessful writer, but this all changed for the better when The Mysterious Affair at Styles was published in 1920 featuring Hercule Poirot.
29. During the Second World War she worked as a pharmacy assistant at University College Hospital, London during the Blitz and acquired a good knowledge of poisons which featured in many of her novels.
30. Guinness World Records lists Christie as the best-selling novelist of all time. Her novels have sold roughly 2 billion copies, and her estate claims that her works come third in the rankings of the world’s most-widely published books, behind only Shakespeare’s works and the Bible.
31. According to Index Translationum, she remains the most-translated individual author – having been translated into at least 103 languages.
32. And Then There Were None is Christie’s best-selling novel, with 100 million sales to date, making it the world’s best-selling mystery ever, and one of the best-selling books of all time.
33. Christie’s stage play The Mousetrap holds the world record for longest initial run. It opened at the Ambassadors Theatre in the West End on 25 November 1952 and as of 2017 is still running after more than 25,000 performances.
34. In 1955, Christie was the first recipient of the Mystery Writers of America’s highest honour, the Grand Master Award. Later the same year, Witness for the Prosecution received an Edgar Award by the MWA for Best Play.
35. In 2013, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was voted the best crime novel ever by 600 fellow writers of the Crime Writers’ Association.
36. On 15 September 2015, coinciding with her 125th birthday, And Then There Were None was named the “World’s Favourite Christie” in a vote sponsored by the author’s estate.
37. Most of her books and short stories have been adapted for television, radio, video games and comics, and more than thirty feature films have been based on her work.