Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, DBE (née Miller; 15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976) was an English crime novelist, short story writer and playwright. She is best known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, notably those revolving around the investigative work of her fictional detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. She also wrote the world’s longest-running play, a murder mystery, The Mousetrap, and six romances under the name Mary Westmacott. In 1971 she was made a Dame for her contribution to literature.
Christie was born into a wealthy upper-middle-class family in Torquay, Devon. She served in a hospital during the First World War before marrying and starting a family in London. She was initially unsuccessful at getting her work published, but in 1920 the publication of The Mysterious Affair at Styles, featuring Hercule Poirot, launched her literary career.
The Guinness Book of World Records lists Christie as the best-selling novelist of all time. Her novels have sold roughly 2 billion copies, and her estate claims that her works come third in the rankings of the world’s most-widely published books, behind only Shakespeare’s works and the Bible. According to Index Translationum, she remains the most-translated individual author – having been translated into at least 103 languages. And Then There Were None is Christie’s best-selling novel, with 100 million sales to date, making it the world’s best-selling mystery ever, and one of the best-selling books of all time.
Christie’s stage play The Mousetrap holds the record for the longest initial run: it opened at the Ambassadors Theatre in the West End on 25 November 1952 and as of 2016 is still running after more than 25,000 performances. In 1955 Christie was the first recipient of the Mystery Writers of America‘s highest honour, the Grand Master Award. Later the same year, Witness for the Prosecution received an Edgar Award by the MWA for Best Play.
In 2013, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was voted the best crime novel ever by 600 fellow writers of the Crime Writers’ Association.On 15 September 2015, coinciding with Christie’s 125th birthday, And Then There Were None was voted as the “World’s Favourite Christie”, followed closely by Murder on the Orient Express and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Most of her books and short stories have been adapted for television, radio, video games and comics, and more than thirty feature films have been based on her work.
Christie’s mature novels, from 1940 onwards, often have titles drawn from literature.
Four are from Shakespeare:
- Sad Cypress from a song in Twelfth Night: “Come away, come away, death / And in sad cypress let me be laid”.
- By the Pricking of My Thumbs from Act 4, Scene 1 of Macbeth : “By the pricking of my thumbs / Something wicked this way comes”.
- There is a Tide from Brutus’ speech in Julius Caesar: “There is a tide in the affairs of men / Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune”.
- Absent in the Spring from Sonnet 98: “From you have I been absent in the spring …”
Three are from the Bible:
- Evil Under the Sun from Ecclesiastes 5:13 (and restated in 6:1): “There is a sore evil which I have seen under the sun, namely, riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt”.
- The Burden from Jesus‘ words: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me … For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew: 11: 29–30).
- The Pale Horse from the Revelation of St John (6:8): “I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death …”.
Another six are from other works of literature:
- The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side from Tennyson‘s “The Lady of Shallot“: “Out flew the web, and floated wide / The mirror cracked from side to side, / ‘The curse is come upon me,” cried / The Lady of Shalott.”
- The Moving Finger from verse 51 of Edward FitzGerald‘s translation of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám: “The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ / Moves on …”. This, in turn, refers to the Biblical account of Belshazzar’s feast (Daniel, chapter 5), which is the origin of the expression “the writing on the wall”.
- The Rose and the Yew Tree from Section V of “Little Gidding” from T. S. Eliot‘s Four Quartets: “The moment of the rose and the moment of the yew-tree / Are of equal duration”.
- Postern of Fate from the poem “Gates of Damascus” by James Elroy Flecker: “Postern of Fate, the Desert Gate, Disaster’s Cavern, Fort of Fear, / The Portal of Bagdad am I …”
- Endless Night from William Blake‘s Auguries of Innocence: “Some are born to sweet delight / Some are born to endless night”.
- N or M? from the Catechism in the Book of Common Prayer which asks, “What is your Christian name? Answer N. or M.”The “N. or M.” stands for the Latin, “nomen vel nomina”, meaning “name or names”. It is an accident of typography that “nomina” came to be represented by “m”.
In such cases, the original context of the title is usually printed as an epigraph.Similarly, the title of Christie’s autobiographical travel book Come, Tell Me How You Live is a quote from verse three of the White Knight‘s poem, “Haddocks’ Eyes” from chapter eight of Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll,and is a play on the word “Tell”, an archaeological mound. And the title of The Mousetrap is purportedly an allusion to Shakespeare‘s play Hamlet, in which “The Mousetrap” is Hamlet’s answer to Claudius’s inquiry about the name of the play whose prologue and first scene he and his court have just watched (III, ii).
Seven stories are built around words from well known children’s nursery rhymes: And Then There Were None (from “Ten Little Indians“), One, Two, Buckle My Shoe (from “One, Two, Buckle My Shoe“), Five Little Pigs (from “This Little Piggy“), Crooked House (from “There Was a Crooked Man“), A Pocket Full of Rye (from “Sing a Song of Sixpence“), Hickory Dickory Dock (from “Hickory Dickory Dock“), and Three Blind Mice (from “Three Blind Mice“). Similarly, the novel Mrs McGinty’s Dead is named after a children’s game that is explained in the course of the novel.
Source : Wikipedia.org