10 Little Known Facts About Agatha Christie

Posted by Hayley on September 15, 2015

Agatha Christie was born 125 years ago today! To celebrate, we've used our "little grey cells" to compile a list of fascinating facts about the beloved English crime novelist.

1. At the age of 26, she handled poisons for a living.
After working as a nurse during World War I, Christie became an apothecaries' assistant, allowing her access to a myriad of toxins. "Since I was surrounded by poisons, perhaps it was natural that death by poisoning should be the method I selected," she wrote of her decision to include strychnine and bromide in her first published novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles.

2. Christie did her best thinking while eating apples and drinking tea—in the bath.
Unfortunately, she found modern baths "too slippery, with no nice wooden ledge to rest pencils and paper on," so she was forced to give up the stimulating habit.

3. She was one of the first British people to try surfing.
Christie got the opportunity on a trip to Hawaii with her first husband, Archie Christie. Already a bodyboarder, she took to the sport quite quickly: "I learned to become an expert, or at any rate expert from the European point of view—the moment of complete triumph on the day that I kept my balance and came right into shore standing upright on my board."

4. During World War II, MI5 investigated Christie.
The culprit? Her 1941 mystery, N or M. The British intelligence agency was troubled by the novel's inclusion of a character named Major Bletchley who claimed to possess critical wartime secrets. They worried Christie was actually referring to a real person, her friend Dilly Knox, a codebreaker at Bletchley Park. The novelist insisted the whole thing was a coincidence—"Bletchley? My dear, I was stuck there on my way by train from Oxford to London and took revenge by giving the name to one of my least lovable characters."—and MI5 eventually dropped their investigation.

5. She despised marmalade pudding, going so far as to use it to kill a man in her 1953 novel, A Pocket Full of Rye.
Though, to be fair, the cause of death was taxine, an alkaloid poison. Marmalade was just the delivery method.

6. At the height of her popularity, Christie saw herself as a "sausage machine."
She was producing two books per year at the point, and the exhausting schedule led her to declare, "I'm a sausage machine, a perfect sausage machine."

7. She grew up believing her mother was psychic.
Christie always asserted her childhood had been "very happy," and maybe Mama Clara's second sight had something to do with it.

8. No one can confirm or deny that aliens abducted Christie in 1926.
The theory's not as silly as you might think. (Though, admittedly, it's one of the sillier ones). On December 3, 1926, the mystery writer kissed her daughter goodnight, got in a car, and disappeared for eleven days. Over 15,000 volunteers combed the area, but she couldn't be found. Just as accusations of foul play began to circulate—primarily against her husband Archie—Christie turned up in a hotel in Harrogate, England. She never explained her disappearance.

9. On top of being a famous mystery writer, she was a successful romance novelist.
Christie wrote six romance novels under the pen name Mary Westmacott, including Unfinished Portrait, a semi-autobiographical story about a writer who attempts suicide after her marriage falls apart.

10. Christie has sold more books than there are people in China and America.
With 2 billion copies sold in 103 languages, she remains the best-selling novelist of all time.


Did you know And Then There None was voted the world's favorite Christie novel earlier this month? What's your favorite mystery from the crime writer?

Comments Showing 1-50 of 64 (64 new)


message 1: by Fleur (new)

Fleur Van dijl Yes, I agree. And Then There Were None is my favorite too, although I cannot say I've read all of her books.


message 2: by Nanette (new)

Nanette Sowa I took it as a challenge to read every one of her books. "Ten Little Indians" aka "And Then There Were None" is a favorite, but I usually prefer Hercule Poirot to Miss Marple.


BookWitch_Namine "And Then There was Trivia" I see what you did there.


message 4: by JJ (last edited Sep 15, 2015 09:22PM) (new)

JJ Coetzer Doctor Who explained her disappearance in the episode The Unicorn and the Wasp, aliens did not abduct her, but they were part of it


message 5: by Nicole D. (new)

Nicole D. And Then There Were None and Crooked House are my favorites so far.


message 6: by Betsy (new)

Betsy TCM featured an Agatha Christie movie day with Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, and "Ten Little Indians" which had an alternative ending from the classic "And Then There Were None".


message 7: by Sketchbook (new)

Sketchbook Your #8 is hogwash. It's now known that her "vanishing act" was a deliberate revenge stunt on roving-eyed husband she soon divorced. It's all on Google !


message 8: by Jodez (new)

Jodez My favourite piece of Christie trivia is her use of face cream to clean and preserve Egyptian artifacts while in Syria with her then husband Max Mallowan.


message 9: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Agatha Christie and I share the same birthday and I can't believe I've never read any of her books. I need to remedy that as soon as possible but I think it's a sign that we have the same birthday and that I love to read and write so much!


message 10: by D.G. (last edited Sep 16, 2015 04:10AM) (new)

D.G. Awesome post!

I'm a huge Christie fan - I read Murder on the Orient Express at age 12 and fell in love with the genre and her writing - and I have like a dozen favorites. At the top though are The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Poirot) and The Moving Finger (Miss Marple). Of the standalones, And Then There Were None is definitely my favorite and the one I usually recommend to people who have never read Christie.


message 11: by Stacy (new)

Stacy My favorite writing/books from Agatha Christie are the Hercules Poriot stories. Love the character David Suchet who plays this famous detective on PBS. Hard to pick which story is my favorite as I have been reading since I was able to form words and wouldn't be surprised if I've read over 600 books in my lifetime..... As a kid I've stayed up late at night reading by the streetlight outside my window.


Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* I don't blame her for not liking Marmalade pudding, sounds disgusting.

Doing the best thinking in the bath kind of makes sense.

I read her autobiography two years ago - she avoid talking about the details of the disappearance then too. I guess sometimes people need to get away for awhile.


Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* S. wrote: "My favorite writing/books from Agatha Christie are the Hercules Poriot stories. Love the character David Suchet who plays this famous detective on PBS. Hard to pick which story is my favorite as..."

I also love Hercule Poirot - could never warm up to Marple. I haven't watched much televised with him but did catch a few of the Poirot shows that were focused on books I'd already read so nothing would be ruined for me.


Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* Sketchbook wrote: "Your #8 is hogwash. It's now known that her "vanishing act" was a deliberate revenge stunt on roving-eyed husband she soon divorced. It's all on Google !"

Yes, it was the end of the relationship, but I don't think it was all about revenge. I think she needed a break from life and was distraught. It served to make her husband worry, and get away from everything for awhile.


Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* Betsy wrote: "TCM featured an Agatha Christie movie day with Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot, and "Ten Little Indians" which had an alternative ending from the classic "And Then There Were None"."

I hated the movie. Unless there were a few, but the one I saw didn't touch the book at all


message 16: by Nidhi (new)

Nidhi Bhatt I started reading mystery and crime novels because of her! Happy 125th birthday to her!

Amazing post.


message 17: by Erma (new)

Erma Talamante I don't think I could pick a favorite... although going back and 're-reading her books would serve a dual purpose!


message 18: by Nick (new)

Nick Tingley Fleur wrote: "Yes, I agree. And Then There Were None is my favorite too, although I cannot say I've read all of her books."

I'm reading 'Death on the Nile' at the moment, but And Then There Were None' is sat waiting on my bedside table. Such a brilliant author and a true inspiration.


message 19: by Cat (new)

Cat I am a huge Poirot fan so my favorites are "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd", "Murder on the Orient Express" and "Death On The Nile".


message 20: by Dimitra (new)

Dimitra Muni Although I have read her novels , but in single digits , I must say, I found Crooked House very interesting, Of course Then there were none, similar plots of movies like Mindhunters and Game (Hindi movie) gave away the secret.


Bookishnymph *needs hea* Happy Birthday to the best mystery writer. :)

Poirot has amused me more times than I can count.


message 22: by Miki (new)

Miki A Pale Horse. It and The ABC Murders are only ones I really like. Not a big Christie fan.


Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* My favorite is Death on the Nile. And then there were none comes close


message 24: by Lila (new)

Lila Books F.P. wrote: "Awesome post. And, omigod--she's one of my favorites. And though she's sold so many books and was luckily very successful while alive, she's still underrated, in my opinion; she often gets talked a..."
I agree


message 25: by Anwen (new)

Anwen I've loved Christie detective stories for years which is why I was so excited to stumble across Come Tell Me How You Live when I was 13 (describing life on an archaeological dig - hilarious). She always seems to have the mot just for every situation. As to her books. And Then There Was None? Hated it. In fact it lies at the bottom of my personal preference list. My favourites are the Pale Horse, The Moving Finger, The Man in the Brown Suit and Nemesis. Though I read them all from time to time and enjoy them all - apart from... But I've already explained that!


message 26: by Faith (new)

Faith Wow!


message 27: by Hayley (new)

Hayley Edwards Johann wrote: "Doctor Who explained her disappearance in the episode The Unicorn and the Wasp, aliens did not abduct her, but they were part of it"

I remember that Doctor Who episode, maybe he's behind all the so called Alien abductions, he's just taking people off for a spin in the Tardis. :-)


message 28: by Erma (new)

Erma Talamante Hayley wrote: "I remember that Doctor Who episode, maybe he's behind all the so called Alien abductions, he's just taking people off for a spin in the Tardis. :-) "

If that's the case, then I, for one, wouldn't mind an abduction. Just so long as I can tinker with it!


message 29: by Sheila (in LA) (last edited Sep 16, 2015 04:09PM) (new)

Sheila (in LA) I've read almost all of her books, many of them several times. It's not easy to name a favorite, though. Death on the Nile, Murder on the Orient Express, The ABC Murders are all very good. Cards on the Table is a lesser-known title I sometimes recommend to the uninitiated. She could write a love story very well, too. The Mystery of the Blue Train, Sparkling Cyanide, Sad Cypress all stand out in that way.


message 30: by C. J. (new)

C. J. Scurria I knew about some of these. But what I don't understand is why people used poisons in medicine. I heard strychnine was part of some things bought from the pharmacist but why?


message 31: by Mercurialgem (new)

Mercurialgem I love trivia like this. I still haven't read any of her stuff. =/


message 32: by Michael (new)

Michael And then there were none is my favorite mystery!


message 33: by Jenika (new)

Jenika I really fancy some marmalade pudding right now!

Great post, thanks :)


message 34: by Anwen (new)

Anwen CJ- I knew about some of these. But what I don't understand is why people used poisons in medicine. I heard strychnine was part of some things bought from the pharmacist but why?

The fact is most of our medicines are poisonous. It's the dosage that is so important. Take too much paracetamol for example and it can kill you. This is why you are warned to stick to the dosages as prescribed. It is a very fine line between medicine and poison. Another example - the taxin in yew is deadly poison - but at the right dose it is a treatment for breast cancer...


message 35: by Jessica (new)

Jessica I like "And Then There Were None", but I also adored "The Murder On the Orient Express".


message 36: by Brooklyn (new)

Brooklyn Tayla F.P. wrote: "Awesome post. And, omigod--she's one of my favorites. And though she's sold so many books and was luckily very successful while alive, she's still underrated, in my opinion; she often gets talked a..."

I could not agree more! I worship everything Christie, I feel she's underrated and overlooked :( she's the one who started the detective novel/crime genre, and her books are the best.

"And Then There Were None" is one of my favourites, along with "Three Act Tragedy," "The Moving Finger," "Curtain," "Murder on the Orient Express" and "Nemesis," along with all her other ones. "An Autobiography" is one of the best autobiographies I've ever read.


message 37: by Plamena (new)

Plamena Nikolaeva Ok, the first one is well known fact and doesn't belong here. But it was really interesting to read about the others.


message 38: by Tristan (new)

Tristan I don't read many mysteries, but her Death Comes As the End and Crooked House were both fantastic.


message 39: by Carol (new)

Carol Some other interesting facts about Agatha Christie which I found while doing some research for a mystery afternoon tea party at work -:

Agatha Christie refused to allow Poirot to appear on any of her book jackets.

Miss Marple was named after Marple Hall, an old mansion in Cheshire

Originally Miss Marple was the detective in ‘Death on the Nile

She owned 8 houses and some were used in her novels, including ‘Dead Man’s Folly’ and ‘Crooked House’

Her favourite food was cream and it has been reported that she drank whole cups of cream and ate clotted cream with a spoon


message 40: by Roma (new)

Roma D'Souza Wow...nyc to know sum facts about your favourite author :) currently reading one of her books- The Sittaford Mystery :)


Linda Abhors the New GR Design Erin (Paperback stash) *is juggle-reading* wrote: "I don't blame her for not liking Marmalade pudding, sounds disgusting.

Doing the best thinking in the bath kind of makes sense.

I read her autobiography two years ago - she avoid talking about th..."


She had the advantage of living in that time period. Today, with all the cameras, internet, paparazzi, and snoops, she'd be hard put to find somewhere on the old island to bury herself for 11 whole days!


message 42: by Antonio (new)

Antonio Heras La número 8... <3


message 43: by Milad (new)

Milad Fleur wrote: "Yes, I agree. And Then There Were None is my favorite too, although I cannot say I've read all of her books."

Though, I've watched all of his Poirot series books ;) , i.e. Agatha Christie's Poirot!


message 44: by Linda (new)

Linda Boa The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd - although I too can't claim to have read her entire canon!


message 45: by Katrina (new)

Katrina Murder on the Orient express - Poirot as addictive as fine Belgian chocolate ;)


message 46: by Lelyana (new)

Lelyana Mine is always The Murder of Roger Ackroyd !!

And all of her books, and Miss Marple's...oh well,,its hard to choose!


message 47: by Clyde (new)

Clyde Murder on the Orient Express was my first Christie book and still my favorite. Poirot is simply addicting.


message 48: by Morgan (new)

Morgan Ahh!!! This just makes me love her even more... I do have to say that Murder on the Orient Express is my all time favorite of hers, And Then There Were None comes in a close second :)


message 49: by Jack (new)

Jack E. When Belgium's political climate forced many to flee to England, she cleverly created Poirot, a highly experienced detective with no connection to local police. Her ability to use settings and conditions she was familiar with is what makes her books so on-the-spot authentic. Hence my strong liking for Death on the Nile and Murder on the Orient Express.


message 50: by Geri (new)

Geri I very much enjoyed Murder on the Orient Express.


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