About a month ago I went to Investigating Agatha Christie – an exhibition on the life and work of one of the greatest 20th-century novelists. If that was not enough to get me to Old Montreal – a charming area of the city with its European flavour – the fact that it was being held at The Montreal Archaeology and History Museum got my curiosity along with my feet walking the cobble stoned street of the Old Port. Here’s what I discovered:
I. With her husband, Max Mallowan, a prominent archaeologist, Christie spent plenty of time travelling with him and his team actively taking part on excavation sites in Syria, Iran and Egypt. Her day job was to photograph and film the artifacts that were being dug up. In the evenings she wrote and drew on her experiences in the Middle East for novels such as Murder in Mesopotamia and They Came to Baghdad.
II. Agatha Christie learned about poisons by being an assistant apothecary. Some 30 of the victims in her books died of poisoning.
III. In Death Comes as an End Christie invents the historical whodunit.
IV. As a child Agatha was considered the slow one in the family.
V. 66 detective novels
150 short stories
and 2 memoirs.
VI. Ariadne Oliver, the fictional character in several Agatha Christie novels is a mystery novelist and a friend of Hercule Poirot. She was patterned after Christie herself.
“People say things to me — you know — how much they like my books, and how they’ve been longing to meet me — and it all makes me feel hot and bothered and rather silly. But I manage to cope more or less. And they say how much they love my awful detective Sven Hjerson. If they knew how I hated him! But my publisher always says I’m not to say so.”
For more on Ariadne Oliver’s writing advice click here.
VII. Her most famous play The Mousetrap opened in the West End of London in 1952, and has been running continuously since then.
VIII. A rose is named after her.
IX. She dedicated her novel Dumb Witness to her wire-haired terrier Peter. In the novel, the dog Bob is directly inspired by her own pet.
X. Total sales of her books are estimated at 2 billion exceeded only by The Bible.
Do you have a favorite Agatha Christie book?