Agatha Miller, Dame Agatha Christie, Lady Mallowan, Mary Westmacott… The famous English crime novelist, short story writer and playwright had several lives and several identities. Everybody knows her… or at least believes it! Who were you really, Mrs Christie ?
Childhood and early life
Agatha Miller was born on 15 September 1890 into a wealthy upper-middle-class family in Ashfield, Torqay, Devon. Her father was American and travelled a lot for his business. Her mother was born in Belfast. She had one elder sister, Margaret, and one elder brother, Louis.
Agatha always described her childhood as « very happy » : contrary to her siblings, she was not sent to boarding schools abroad but was educated at home, by her parents. The little girl was a voracious reader from an early age. She spent most of her childhood apart from other children, and it had probably helped develop her imagination. At the age of 10, she wrote her first poem : the beginning of her career ?
The Mysterious Affair at Styles
Nowadays, Agatha Christie is very well-known and recognized all over the world. However, her literary career was not simple insofar as no editor was confident with her and believed in her talent. Nobody wanted to publish her short stories. Her life changed rapidly with World War I, when she served as a nurse in a Devon hospital, tending to troops coming back from the trenches.
There, she met a man who was « hardly more than 5 inches ». His head was exactly the shape of an egg and his moustache was very stiff and military. The man was from Belgium, and she had found Mr Hercule Poirot, her most famous character.
The first novel featuring the Belgian detective, the Mysterious Affair at Style was a real success. Agatha Christie was launched.
From Agatha Christie to Lady Mallowan
Before WWI, she married her first love, Archibald Christie, but the couple was not happy together. In 1920, her daughter, Rosalind, was born but Agatha had to face her husband’s lies and infidelity. If her public life was a success due to several publications of her novels, her private life was a total disaster. She even disappeared in 1926 and then asked for a divorce. She retained custody of her daughter and the Christie name for her writing.
In 1928, Agatha decided to visit the Middle East on the Orient- Express. During this trip, she wrote her most famous novels featuring Hercule Poirot, and she encountered her second husband, Max Mallowan, whom she married in 1930. The marriage was really happy and lasted until Christie’s death, in 1976.
She is always the most famous crime novelist in the world… and maybe the richest !