Agatha Christie’s Birthday 15 September

Agatha Christie, to put it plainly, is a heroine of mine. It was the anniversary of her birth yesterday, and she shoulda been trending on Twitter! She wasn’t, so in case you didn’t know, she was an author, one of the finest crime writers of all time. She was born on 15 September 1890 and passed away on 12 January 1976.  She wrote 82 detective novels and more than 15 short story collections. She invented the hero Hercule Poirot and the heroine Miss Marple

She wrote a mass of stories, and I probably don’t need to go into the whole list here, but in case you’re keen to see it, it’s here:

I think that if any author has actually spurred me on to pick up my pen and write myself, it’s Agatha Christie. Her imagery, her notions of upper crust crimes in the higher echelons of British society, the luxuries of cups and tea and slices of cake and the ‘below stairs’ class, spiced with the solving of desperate and sometimes, for the period, quite violent, crimes has that irresistible element, but also serves as a preservation of the time and the class. I sometimes wonder at the patience of Hercule Poirot, himself at the butt end of British uppercrustery, all the while providing the solution to the mystery. 

I enjoy Agatha Christie precisely because the world she paints is not my world. If all the books I read were about my world, I’m not sure I’d set foot out the door. I live in Johannesburg, which has the loose nickname of “the murder capital of the world” where real life crime is more dreadful than I care to write here.  And Christie’s crimes are quite tame, and entertaining, by comparison. 

One of the books I’m going to point out is At Bertram’s Hotel, a Marple mystery. Briefly: Miss Marple spends a holiday in a luxurious London hotel. The strained and sinister atmosphere, the odd disappearance of a priest and the murder of the busboy sets her on the trail of a clever criminal gang. But it’s the imagery that left its lasting impression on me – descriptions of fruit and plain scones with clotted cream and strawberry preserve, as well as a choice of freshly baked cakes from the trolley make me want to seek out the elusive Bertram’s Hotel for myself, which I can’t, because it’s fictional. 

Agatha Christie herself I feel must have been an extremely interesting person to know. She’s one of the many people who I would have loved to be friends with, except that I was born in the wrong age, the wrong country, etc, etc. A soul across the eons of time to which my own soul reaches out. Agatha must have had a real passion for what she did, I say this simply because of the volumes and qualities she wrote. When she was on top of her game, she could write more than a book a year. 

Agatha Christie’s personal life was not without its ups and downs: her first husband took a mistress, and asked her for a divorce, after which she disappeared for 11 days, sparking a massive manhunt. Agatha Christie, your legend lives on, and I thank you for your fine work. 

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Writer, transcriber, proofreader, editor, lover of the arts.

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