Agatha Christie is the world's best-known mystery writer. Her books have sold over a billion copies in the English language and another billion in over 45 foreign languages. She is outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare.
Agatha Christie was born in 1890 in Torquay in England. Her father was called Frederick Miller so she was born as Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller. She was educated at home and studied singing and piano in Paris. In 1914 she married Archibald Christie, but then World War I had broken out. Agatha worked as a nurse in a Red Cross hospital in Torquay at that time and that experience was useful later on.
Her first book was published in 1920, The Mysterious Affair at Styles. There, readers met Hercules Poirot, the eccentric Belgian detective with the funny-looking moustache. But Agatha's books first attracted attention in 1926 when she published The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.
Agatha made news herself when she disappeared for a few days after her husband wanted a divorce. She was soon found to be staying in a hotel under an alias. Her disappearance is still a mystery! She and Archibald divorced in 1928 (he died in 1962). When she was around 40 years old she went on a holiday and visited e.g. Iraq where she met young archaeologist Max Mallowan, who was 14 years younger. They married in 1930 and Agatha Christie became Agatha Christie Mallowan. During World War II Agatha worked in the dispensary of University College Hospital in London. She often assisted her husband on excavations, e.g. in Iraq and Syria.
Agatha Christie wrote nearly seventy novels in her career and more than a hundred short stories. Her most famous characters are Hercules Poirot and Miss Marple, and the latter one was her personal favourite. She also wrote a few books about Tommy and Tuppence Beresford, and in some books there was no particular main character, e.g. in Ten Little Niggers. Agatha Christie also wrote six romantic novels under the name Mary Westmacott. Agatha's plays have also made her famous and her best known play, The Mousetrap, is most likely the best known mystery play in the world.
Agatha was the president of the Detection Club. She became Dame Agatha in 1971.
She is best known for her detective stories, largely centred around two detectives; the elderly Miss Marples and the pompous Poirot. Apart from her plots, today it is the period detail of herbooks that fascinates; the English village, the spa hotel, the country house and the cruise-ship. She chronicles a vanished pre- WW2 upper middle class Britain which enhances the staginess of her characters and plots.
Agatha Christie was sure the world's best selling crime writer. Moreover, she was an immensely prolific writer. 79 shot stories, 4 non-fiction ones and 19 plays were written by that strange woman. They were translated into 136 languages. Over 3 billion books by Agatha Christie were sold worldwide. She is popular for ingenuity of plots, which are classical murder mysteries: marooned places and a well-mannered murderer. Her way to present the stories was quite definite from that of her colleagues. At first her stories appealed to the readers' detective inside, so you can't find much blood and violence in her stories.
Agatha Christie created two major characters for her stories. Hercule Poirot, a Belgian, used to work in the Police, but by the time of the action he was already retired. He can be described as a funny little man taken by many readers as a comic. He had luxurious moustaches and he was really proud of them.
Miss Marple was absolutely opposite to Poirot. She wasn't a professional and had never been one. She was just an old spinster, very modest but perceptive and not a flamboyant personality, who acted as a detective just by virtue of taking thought.
Agatha Christie's favourite way of murdering was by poisoning. She accurately described the process because she had learned a lot about poisons and other chemicals during World War II, while working in a hospital.
The reader has to solve the mystery and decide who the murderer is hand-in-hand with the author. Most of the crimes were committed in some closed surroundings with a limited number of people to suspect. Finally the identity of the murderer is revealed and a hooked reader starts looking for another book by Agatha Christie.
Agatha Christie lived between 1890 and 1976. She started writing stories at a very early age, at first to entertain herself. However, she managed to become famous. Not many people know that she used to write under a pen-name of Mary Westmacott. Later, already being a world-known writer, she tried to avoid publicity and stayed out of public eye.