By superfan Shari Randall
September 15 marked the 130th anniversary of Agatha Christie’s birth and I've been celebrating all week. Please join me in raising a cup of tea in a toast to Dame Agatha, one of the most influential and successful novelists of all time. Her genre, the traditional mystery, has remained popular with readers since she published her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, in 1920.
Most are familiar with the biography of Agatha Christie. The mega-selling (over two billion copies) author’s work is rediscovered by every generation and celebrated with a splashy, star-studded movie (the latest, Kenneth Branagh’s Death on the Nile, is slated for October). Born to a wealthy family in Torquay, England, she was homeschooled and taught herself to read at age five. She had an ill-fated whirlwind marriage to Royal Flying Corps aviator Archie Christie and her disappearance when she discovered his affair caused a sensation. Her work in pharmacies during the war gave her a wonderfully deep and useful knowledge of poisons. Her happy second marriage to archaeologist Max Mallowan, and their travels, inspired some of her most popular books.
Her work continues to delight, inspire, and yes, confound 44 years after her death – from natural causes - in 1976 at age 85.
Here are a few lesser known facts about the Queen of Mystery:
Dame Agatha had a rose named after her: “Agatha Christie” is a “Beautiful rich, pink Hybrid Tea shaped blooms that are lightly fragrant. A strong growing disease-resistant climber with outstanding dark-green, glossy foliage. Repeat Bloom.”
She is the only female dramatist to have had three plays – Spider’s Web, Witness for the Prosecution, and The Mousetrap - running simultaneously in London’s West End.
She owned many dogs and her favorite breed was the terrier. Her first dog was named George Washington. Her favorite was a short-haired terrier called Peter that she wrote into Dumb Witness as “Bob.”
In 1922, Archie was asked to tour several areas of the British Empire to promote the British Empire Exhibition. He and Agatha stopped in Hawaii and the couple learned to surf, possibly becoming two of the first Europeans to master the sport.
Her daughter Rosalind, fiercely private like her mother, had one son, Matthew Prichard, with her first husband. Mathew received the sole rights to The Mousetrap for his ninth birthday.
There’s a misspelling on her gravestone. See if you can spot it.
What’s your favorite Agatha Christie book? Mine’s Murder on the Orient Express.
Shari Randall is the author of the Lobster Shack Mystery series. Her debut, CURSES, BOILED AGAIN, won the Agatha Award (yes, named for Agatha Christie) for best first novel. You can see what's new with her at https://www.facebook.com/sharirandallauthor or see her mermaid obsession on Instagram @sharirandallauthor.