Agatha Christie Essay, Research Paper
Agatha Christie: Queen of the Mystery Genre Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born to Mr. and Mrs. Fred Miller of Torquay, Devon, England. Researchers debate on the year in which she was born, but it was September 15 in either 1890 or 1891. Her father was an American who lived with his British wife in Torquay. At the time, her parents did not realize that their daughter would one day become a famous English author, writing an insatiable amount of novels and plays. Her focus was mainly on the mystery genre of literature. She was married two times, and bore one daughter by her first husband. In 1971, five years before her death, Christie was given the prestigious title of a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. She died January 12, 1976 at Wallingford in Oxfordshire (Prichard www.mysteries.com/birthday/). Agatha Miller was born the third child to her parents, Fred and Mary Miller. She grew up in Torquay, Devon, England. She was taught at home by her mother and several tutors and governesses, never attending a real school. As a child, Miller kept herself occupied by inventing games to play with her siblings. Not being around other children besides her siblings made Miller a shy child. She was not outspoken in her thoughts, so she expressed her feelings in music. Later in life, she would turn to writing as a means of expression (Yaffe BKYaffe@nltl.columbia.edu). Agatha Miller?s first husband was Archibald Christie, who was a World War I fighter pilot. The newlywed Mrs. Christie worked as a nurse while her husband was off at war. Through her nursing experiences, she learned of many new drugs on the market. These drugs fascinated her, thus prompting her to use them as factors in several of her Graham 2 works. Her marriage to Christie lasted only twelve years, and they were divorced in 1926. Not long after her divorce from her first husband, Christie disappeared without a trace for a short period of ten days. She was found at a resort hotel, claiming to be a victim of amnesia caused by emotional stress. Agatha Christie had checked into the hotel under the alias Theresa Neele; Neele being the surname of her husband?s mistress. After a full memory recovery, Christie claimed for the rest of her life that she truly suffered amnesia. Some critics say that Christie faked her amnesia to do two things. The first was to get revenge on her ex-husband, Archibald Christie, for running off with another woman. The second reason of the assumed fake disappearance was possibly to gain publicity for her new books. Whether Christie really suffered amnesia or not, the so-called publicity stunt worked. It brought her name into the press then more than it had ever been before (Prichard www.mysteries.com/birthday/). A few years after her recovery, she met and married a man named Max Mallowan. However, she kept the Christie surname for publicity reasons. Max Mallowan was a young archaeologist specializing in the Middle East. Christie and Mallowan lived happily for years in Baghdad, Iraq, while she continued to write and he continued to do archaeological research. She even accompanied him on some of his archaeological digs in different parts of the Middle East. Christie?s marriage to Mallowan was a success, for they stayed together until her death in 1976 (Encarta 1999). Agatha Christie used her life as the basis of many of her writings. In her first book, "The Mystery Affair at Styles", Christie used her nursing experiences to make the book enjoyable. Several of her books include death by poisoning. Christie gained this knowledge also from her experience as a nurse during World War I. Two of the main characters used in most of Christie?s works were Miss Jane Marple, an elderly spinster with enough spare time on her hands to do a little unprofessional detective work, and Hercule Poirot, a clever sleuth also created by Christie. The most famous novel depicting Graham 3 Hercule Poirot is "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd". This book is a subtle masterpiece of misdirection, and created quite a public sensation. It was probably the greatest achievement of this time period. Hercule Poirot is probably best remembered by his oddly-shaped mustache and his egg-shaped head. Poirot also thought very highly of himself. Hercule Poirot has been portrayed in Christie films by such actors as Tony Randall and Albert Finney. Finney received an Academy Award for his portrayal of Poirot in Murder on the Orient Express (Yaffe BKYaffe@nltl.columbia.edu). As stated before, Miss Jane Marple was an elderly spinster, probably in her mid-sixties. Ironically, Mrs. Christie probably cloned Miss Marple after herself. Though Agatha Christie did not die an elderly spinster, she was always looking for a good mystery, as shown in her many novels. She hailed from St. Mary Mead, England, and loved to talk about her hometown. Miss Marple did not go around looking for mysteries to solve, somehow she ended up in the middle of a case. In "The Caribbean Mystery" Miss Marple had been sent to St. Honoré by her nephew for a vacation, as she was recovering from an illness. When Miss Marple arrived, everything seemed wonderful. But in the days to come, several deaths took place. Miss Marple found this unnerving, so she set out to solve the murder mystery. No one wanted to help her, because they thought she was just an old woman who had nothing else to do besides sit around and dream up silly murder ideas. Miss Marple solved the mystery, and everyone was pleased with the old woman (Christie "Caribbean Mystery"). Aside from mystery novels, Agatha Christie also wrote many plays. Her play, "The Mousetrap" is the longest-running play in history, with the record of 8862 performances in one theater ( Amer. Edu. Enc. 117)! Christie wrote six romance novels under the pseudonym of Mary Westmancott, to take a break from mystery writing. Christie also composed two memoirs, and one of Graham 4 those memoirs recounted events from her trip to Syria with Max Mallowan, her second husband (Prichard www.mysteries.com/birthday/). Several of Mrs. Christie?s books and plays have been made into movies and television miniseries. One of the most popular miniseries including Agatha Christie?s works is Murder, She Wrote, starring Angela Lansbury. Every episode of Murder, She Wrote is based on events that occurred in Agatha Christie?s murder mystery novels. Lansbury has also portrayed Miss Jane Marple in some of the movies made of Christie?s books (Yaffe BKYaffe@nltl.columbia.edu). Agatha Christie was one of the first women to write murder mysteries. She took a great step in the literary world, for at the time she was writing her novels, women weren?t as accepted in literature as men writers. Christie received many awards over the years for her numerous and intriguing writings. In 1954 she was served as president of the Detection Club, an organization for mystery writers. Also in 1954 Agatha Christie also received the first Grand Award ever given by the Mystery Writers of America. Christie also received the New York Drama Critics? Circle Award for 1954-1955 for her play "Witness for the Prosecution". In 1956 Agatha Christie was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Five years before her death, she was made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. She was the first person to ever achieve such a great honor (Prichard www.mysteries.com/birthday/). To this day, Agatha Christie?s novels and plays have been translated into more worldly languages than any of the works of William Shakespeare. She is perhaps the most famous female mystery writer of all time. Millions of copies of her books and plays, some of which have been made into videos, are sold and read in all four corners of the world (Amer. Edu. Enc.). On January 12, 1976, Agatha Christie: Queen of the Mystery Genre, died of natural causes. The only mystery Mrs. Christie left unsolved is her own. The mystery of Graham 5 her disappearance in 1926. Inquiring minds will never know what was going through her head. Was it publicity? Was it really amnesia?