Agatha Christie was born on 15th September 1890 in Torquay, Devon, England. Her family lived in a large house and money was not a problem for the Christies. Agatha did not go to school. Instead she was taught at home by her parents and a governess*. She was an intelligent child who taught herself to read. Her father died when Agatha was only 11 years-old although money was a worry for her mother, Clara, they managed to survive.*
In 1912, Agatha met Archie Christie, an early aviator* in the Royal Flying Corps. The couple wanted to marry but had no money. They finally got married on Christmas Eve 1914. Archie had been fighting in France and Agatha had been a volunteer* at the Red Cross Hospital in Torquay. They spent their honeymoon in The Grand Hotel, Torquay until Archie had to return to France on 27th December. When Archie joined the War Office in London in January 1918 they were able to begin their married life together properly.
Becoming a writer
Agatha began writing short stories for her own amusement* at the age of 18 and, while Archie was away, she began writing a detective novel. During the war Agatha worked in a dispensary* and she learned a lot about poisons. She used her knowledge in her first book “The Mysterious Affair at Styles”. In 1919, she sold the book to the publisher* ‘The Bodley Head’. The final chapter, however, which was originally set* in a court room, was removed. The murderer was exposed by the detective in a room of suspects. This method of revealing the murderer became popular and was used in most of the rest of Agatha Christie stories. Subsequently, many other detective writers have used this idea ever since. During the war there were many Belgian refugees in Torquay. This inspired* Agatha to create Hercule Poirot, a Belgian refugee*, one of the most famous fictional* detectives ever.
Around 1925 the Christies, and their daughter Rosalind, were living in London. Agatha and her husband were having marriage difficulties. Clara Christie, Agatha’s mother, died and Agatha had to deal with* the family home in Torquay on her own. Her husband Archie had met and fallen in love with another woman. On 3rd December 1926 Agatha left Rosalind with the servants and went out. She did not tell anyone where she was going. The next day her car was found abandoned* a few miles from the London home. The press and public were fascinated* by this mystery. Agatha was found 11 days after her disappearance in a hotel in Harrogate. She was using a different name and she did not remember who she really was. Neither did she recognise Archie. She never talked about what happened, even to her own family. Agatha and Archie divorced in 1928.
Late in 1928, Agatha travelled on the Orient Express. Someone on the train persuaded her to visit an archaeological* site near Baghdad. Whilst she was in Iraq she made some new friends and a year later met an archaeologist, Max Mallowan. Agatha and Max were married in 1930. This new life renewed Agatha’s excitement about writing and, from then, she wrote nearly three books a year.
In addition to novels Agatha wrote plays for the theatre like “The Mousetrap” which was first performed 6th October 1952 and became the longest running play having its 25,000th performance 18th November 2012, and is still going today, almost 67 years later (as of 2017).
Agatha became a Dame in 1971 and her last public appearance was at the premier of the film adaptation of “The Murder on the Orient Express” in 1974. She died 12th January 1976.
Governess = a woman who lives with a family and teaches the children in the family home
Managed = to manage = to do something, usually something that is difficult
Survive = to continue to live or exist
Aviator (old-fashioned) = pilot
Volunteer = to do a job or task with no payment
For her own amusement = to please herself and no one else
Dispensary = pharmacy
Publisher = a person or company who prints books or magazines etc
Set = to place the action of a book/play/film etc somewhere in a particular time and place
Inspired = to inspire = to encourage someone/to give someone confidence to do something well
Refugee = someone who is escaping war or political problems in their own country
Fictional = something that is not true
Deal with = manage/look after
Abandoned = leave something that is not used or wanted anymore
Fascinated = extremely interested