Happy Birthday Agatha!!

Agatha books on my shelfAgatha Christie’s 125th birthday was Tuesday, September 15. Molly MacRae, author of the Yarn Shop Mystery series, was the host of a wonderful party to celebrate. It’s been almost 48 hours, and the party is still going strong–on Facebook. I put up a few posts, and chimed in on others. It was a lot of fun to celebrate, even virtually, with some other Christie fans.

I am a huge fan of Agatha Christie, and blogged about that a bit yesterday on Live to Write/Write to Live on “Happy Birthday to a Great Dame”. I’ve written about her on this blog as well. As some of you know, I wrote a thesis about Agatha Christie, her use of point of view, and its contributions to the genre. In prepping for the thesis, I read a lot of support materials, including her autobiography, and Laura Thompson’s biography. Christie was a very reserved person, so I won’t say that I know her. I will say that adding humanity to her fictional output helps put things in a different context for me. I posted about my expectations of her being upended last month. This month I’ve had two more Agatha surprises.

First, several previously unpublished plays have recently been unearthed and are being published later this year. I have my copy on pre-order, of course. Though we may think of her as a fiction writer, she was a playwright as well. MOUSETRAP is the longest running play in history. She also wrote a good adaptation of AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, with a different ending. Looking forward to reading this treasure trove.

The other book I am excited about is inspired rather than written by Agatha Christie. A IS FOR ARSENIC by Kathryn Harkup is a book about the various poisons Christie used in her novels. I’ve just started reading it, and am having a great time. It is both an homage to the stories of Christie, and a writer’s toolkit for poisons. Don’t be surprised if poison plays a role in the 3rd Clock Shop Mystery

One final note–Agatha Christie died 39 years ago. Despite that, people know who she is, buy her books, and create new work based on her stories. I find that remarkable, and enviable.

Happy Birthday to a great Dame!

18 Thoughts

  1. Someday, I would like to be called a Dame (are you listening, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, and Prince William? Addressing all three of you because I’m willing to wait if necessary). My earliest mystery influences were: Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, and Agatha Christie. What a legacy this woman left! I am in awe–and now I want to get my hands on that new material and the book on poisons!

  2. Love Agatha Christie. Thanks for the wonderful post. I, too, ordered the new poisons book and checked out a poison I recently used in my third mystery. What a good reference book it is, as well as an interesting Agatha read.

      1. Sorry, didn’t get back too quickly. In the book I’m editing, I used strychnine. Fast, ugly, but does the job.

  3. Someday we should do a pilgrimage tour to the final resting places of our famous authors. Sleepy Hollow in Concord is easy: you get Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson all within a few feet of each other. England might be more challenging. Where was Agatha laid to rest? I think Dorothy Sayers is in Hampstead, or at least London. Others? In Ireland, Jonathan Swift is to be found in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, and the far more obscure couple, two women whose wrote together as Somerville and Ross, can be found in Castletownsend in Co. Cork. I pay homage to any of them I come across. (And people leave small offerings on Thoreau’s tombstone.)

    1. Wouldn’t that be fun? I think that her estate is turning into Agthaland. It would be well worth the journey. Also love that you pay homage. I do, but only if I stumble upon, not as a place to visit. Years ago I took a class at Oxford on the Oxford Mystery. It was a wonderful week living in the college, and the last day we took a walking tour which featured both the authors and their characters journeys. Dorothy Sayers was included, as was Colin Dexter. One of my best vacations.

  4. I didn’t know they’d recently found some new plays she’d written. Here’s hoping I get to see one or two of them soon.

    And when you mentioned she died 39 years ago, that took me by surprise. I guess because of when she started writing, I think of her in connection with the 1920’s and 1930’s, so I think of her as only alive during those two decades. Funny how the brain works, isn’t it?

    1. It is funny, though I know what you mean. I focused on 1920-1940 for my thesis–the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. Though she wrote into the 1970’s, I always feel that her period was between the two world wars, and her characters stayed there.

      She said that had she known how popular Poirot and Miss Marple would be, she would have made them younger at the beginning. I think that is another reason “time stands still” in her novels.

  5. Thanks for being part of the celebration on Facebook, Julie! A wild and crazy time was had by all. There is so much interesting information on that page, including essays originally written for the now defunct Barnes & Noble Mystery Forum’s 120th celebration in 2010. There are also games and quizzes, and I think there might still be refreshments! 🙂

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