The PeopleAlchemist Edit: #theWomanAlchemist #Feature #womanofthemonth – Agatha Christie
Hello and welcome to the #TheWomanAlchemist monthly feature for September; this month is the turn of the legend Agatha Christie.
I will not even attempt to enlist all her work’s books or television and film renditions. It is far too much.
Agatha Christie is simply the best-selling novelist of all time, surpassed only by the Bible and the complete work of Shakespeare. Her 66 detective novels and 14 short stories have sold over a billion copies in English and a billion in translation. Additionally, The MouseTrap is the world longest running play.
I will focus on her formative years today, as they indicate her character. Additionally, I will touch upon her writing process, which is very interesting to me as a writer. I hope it will be for you too.
AGATHA CHRISTIE FORMATIVE LIFE
Agatha Christie was born on 15 September 1890 in Torquay, England, in a well-off middle-class family. She was mainly home-schooled by her American father.
Although her mother, Clara, did not want her to learn to read until she was eight, Agatha was bored and taught herself to read by age five.
She was fascinated by the children’s stories of the time – Edith Nesbit and Louisa M Alcott (spoiler alert – she is #TheWomanAlchemist for November). But also by poetry and American thrillers.
Agatha spent a lot of time alone as her siblings were much older, so she invented imaginary friends and began writing poems when she was still a child.
When she was five, the family spent some time in France, and it was here that Agatha learnt her colloquial but randomly spelt French.
Her father died after a series of heart attacks when she was eleven, and Agatha became her mother’s closest companion.
By age 18, she was amusing herself by writing short stories – some of which were published and revised in the 1930s.
Her mother’s health and the need to economise dictated their move to Cairo and a three-month “season” at the Gezirah Palace Hotel in 1910.
Agatha met her husband, aviator Archie Christie, in 1912. It was a total whirlwind affair. Both were desperate to marry but had no money. They married on Christmas Eve, 1914. Unfortunately, on 27 December, Archie had to return to France. During the War years, they met sporadically, and it wasn’t until January 1918, when Archie was posted in London, that their married life truly began.
AGATHA CHRISTIE WRITING
Agatha’s unusual childhood fostered her great imagination.
She has always professed that she had no ambition to be a writer. Nevertheless, at eleven, she made her debut in print with a poem in a local London newspaper. Her mother encouraged her to write down the stories she liked to tell one time when she was bedridden with influenza. And that’s where her passion began. She wrote poems and several short stories. But when her sister challenged her to write a detective story, her illustrious Queen of crime career started.
Agatha wrote about the world she knew and saw; she was a great observer. Her descriptions of village politics, local rivalries, and family jealousies are often painfully accurate.
Anything and everything could trigger the idea of a new plot.
She used to dictate her stories into a Dictaphone machine, and then a secretary typed them up into a typescript, which she would correct by hand. Christie wrote in a very natural way and wrote very quickly. In the 1950s, it took her about a couple of months to write a book. Then a month to revise before the book went to the publishers. Once she was done with writing the book, Chrisite sometimes read the stories to her family after dinner, one chapter or two chapters at a time; they were her guinea pigs. Sometimes there were some guests present who also got to read her stories. But only Agatha always knew who the murderer was; the rest of the people were sometimes successful and sometimes not in guessing.
THE MARY WESTMACOTT STORIES
The Mary Westmacott Stories (Omnibus) is one of the books I chose to read this month. These are six bittersweet and very personal novels written under the pseudonym of Mary Westmacott. All about affairs of the heart and as captivating and unique as the best of her crime work.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAPHNE DU MAURIER
Agatha Christie was created Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1971. She died on 12 January 1976 in Wallingford, Oxfordshire.
So Happy Birthday, Dame Agatha Christie, and thank you for entertaining us and delighting us with all your stories and plays.
Previous #TheWomanAlchemist celebrating women writers:
- Isabel Allende
- JK Rowling
- Daphne Du Maurier
- Mary Wollstonecraft
- Pam Grout
- Simone de Beauvoir
- Joanna Penn
- Ruth Sienkiewicz-Mercer
- Rachel Hollis
- Melody Godfrey
- Marie Forleo
- Elaine Welteroth