The Story of Agatha Christie, Whose Life Could’ve Been a Plot for One of Her Novels
On September 15, 2020, the world will celebrate 130 years since the birth of Agatha Christie, one of the world’s most famous detective novelists and short-story writers. Her works have sold over 2 billion copies, while Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple joined the company of the most recognizable fictional detectives. The life story of Agatha herself could’ve become the storyline of a novel or a movie: she started reading at 4 and writing at 10, she wrote her first novel on a dare, learned to surf, and once mysteriously disappeared for 10 days without a trace.
Here at Bright Side, we are fans of the intriguing detective stories told by Agatha Christie, and we can’t wait to tell you her own story that seems to be just as exciting as her work.
She started to read at 4, wrote her first poem at 10, and spent her childhood playing alone with imaginary friends.
Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born on September 15, 1890, and was the youngest of 3 children born to parents Frederick Alvah Miller and Clarissa Margaret Miller. Agatha had 2 older siblings, her sister Margaret Frary, born in 1879, and her brother Louis Montant, born in 1880. The family mainly lived in Devon, England, but they traveled a lot and once spent a whole year traveling around France.
Agatha recollected that her mother Clara insisted that she not go to school and instead be home-schooled. Clara also didn’t want Agatha learn to read until she was 8 years old, but the curious girl was already reading by the age of 4. Agatha’s sister and brother were much older than her, and she spent a lot of time in her childhood playing alone with her pets and imaginary friends. Agatha also enjoyed reading, and wrote her first poem, The Cowslip, at the age of 10.
In 1901 Agatha’s father died, and the writer later confessed that this tragedy marked the end of her childhood at the age of 11. In 1905, Christie’s mother sent her to Paris where she studied in boarding schools and majored in playing piano and vocals.
She wrote her first detective novel on a dare, challenged by her sister.
Agatha Christie wrote her first short story, The House of Beauty, when she was 18 years old, and then continued writing a series of stories written under pseudonyms which included Mac Miller, Nathaniel Miller, and Sydney West. Many of the early works by Agatha Christie were rejected, including her first novel, Snow Upon the Desert, but Christie went on writing, inspired by the works of Wilkie Collins and Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories about Sherlock Holmes.
Christie wrote her first detective novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, in 1920 after her sister challenged her to write a detective story. This is the novel in which readers met Hercule Poirot, Inspector Japp, and Artur Hastings for the first time, and in its own way, it marked the beginning of Christie’s successful writing career.
She was married twice, learned how to surf with her first husband, and joined her second husband on archaeological expeditions.
Agatha Christie and her husband Max Mallowan while visiting the Acropolis in Athens, 1958
Agatha met her first husband, army officer Archibald Christie, at a dance in 1912. The 2 quickly fell in love and got married in 1914 on Christmas Eve. Agatha gave birth to her only child, Rosalind Margaret Clarissa, in 1919. In 1922 the couple left Rosalind with Agatha’s mother and sister and went on a journey around the world during which they visited South Africa, Hawaii, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. During their trip they learned to surf and they even “were among the first Britons to surf standing up” in Waikiki.
In 1928 Agatha and Archibald got divorced, and he married another woman a week later. Christie kept her surname for her writing career. In 1930 she went on a trip to Baghdad, Iraq, where she first met her second husband, archeologist Max Mallowan. Together Agatha and Max went on his archaeological expeditions, and those journeys inspired several of her novels that were set in the Middle East. The 2 were married until Christie died in 1976.
She once disappeared for 10 days and was nowhere to be found.
Agatha and her daughter Rosalind (right) in a newspaper article that reported Agatha missing, 1926
On December 3, 1926 Agatha disappeared from her home after a quarrel with her first husband, Archibald. Earlier that year, he asked Agatha for a divorce — he had fallen in love with another woman. The morning after the mysterious disappearance, Agatha’s car was found next to a chalk quarry with an expired driver’s license and some clothes inside.
The case instantly made headlines, and newspapers offered rewards for any information about the novelist. Christi’s disappearance was reported in The New York Times, and she was searched for by police and thousands of volunteers. On December 14, 1926, she was found at the Swan Hydropathic Hotel in Yorkshire, England. When getting registered at the hotel, she used the name of her husband’s lover — Mrs. Tressa Neele.
There are different opinions on why Agatha disappeared, some suggest the reason for her actions was a nervous breakdown, while others believe she did it to embarrass her husband and didn’t expect that it would turn into a public drama.
She left us with 66 detective novels, 14 short-story collections, and a vacation house we can rent.
Agatha Christie died on January 12, 1976, at the age of 85. Her breathtaking legacy includes 14 collections of short stories and 66 novels that all together have sold over 2 billion copies and given birth to regular characters known to thousands of people all over the world: Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, Tommy and Tuppence Beresford, Parker Pyne, and Harley Quin. Her novels And Then There Were None and Murder on the Orient Express became timeless classics, and her play The Mousetrap, which was first staged in 1952, was still performed as of December 2019.
If you are a devoted and passionate fan of Agatha’s writing, you can rent her former holiday home in Devon, where you can get even closer to the life and art of the world-famous writer, while sitting in one of her chairs with her book in your hands.
Do you like Agatha Christie’s work? Which of her detective stories or novels are your favorites, and why?