10 Little Known Facts About Agatha Christie
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?
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