Agatha Christie: Biography, Books & Disappearance

Instructor: Rachel Noorda
This lesson discusses who Agatha Christie was, which books she wrote, and how she disappeared. When you have finished this lesson, you will know more about one of the most famous and influential mystery writers in the twentieth century.

Who Was Agatha Christie?

Maybe this story sounds familiar: Someone has been murdered, there are many suspects who all seem to be hiding something, and a detective little by little discovers a shocking twist where the least likely suspect is guilty of the crime. Perhaps in the ending scene the detective gets all the suspects together in one room and explains how he came to the conclusion, dramatically announcing who the killer is. Doesn't this sound like any mystery novel? These classic mystery plot points are actually the work of the Queen of Crime Fiction: Agatha Christie.

Agatha Christie as a Child

Agatha Christie was born as Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller in 1890 in Torquay, England. She is in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most successful novelist of all time. Her books were only second (in sales) to Shakespeare's plays and the Bible! She wrote over 100 plays, short stories, and novels but is best known for her mystery novels. As a young girl, she did not go to school but was taught by her mother and governesses. In 1912 she met pilot Archie Christie whom she married in 1914. She lived through both world wars. It was during World War I that her first book, The Mysterious Affair at Styles was published. She gave birth to a daughter, Rosalind, in 1919. After her mother died and her husband had an affair, Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days in 1926 until she was finally found in a hotel. She died in 1976.

Books by Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie is most famous for her books, particularly her mystery novels. Of these novels, she had four characters that were known and loved by all her readers: Hercule Poirot, Miss Jane Marple, Tommy and Tuppence. Her characters and stories were influenced by famous authors such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Gaston Leroux. She patterned Miss Jane Marple after her step-grandmother, Margaret West Miller. Apparently, Miss Jane Marple shared Margaret West Miller's general suspicion of others and ability to find the guilty parties.

Agatha Christie lived through World War I and World War II. The influence of war can be seen in her writings. Before the wars, her novels were more focused on restoring order and justice and solving a puzzle. After the First World War, her writing got darker and depicted the evil side of human nature (such as in her novel And Then There Were None).

Here is a list of books by Agatha Christie:

Hercule Poirot

  • The Mysterious Affair at Styles
  • The Murder on the Links
  • The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
  • The Big Four
  • The Mystery of the Blue Train
  • Peril at End House
  • Lord Edgware Dies
  • Murder on the Orient Express
  • Three Act Tragedy
  • Death in the Clouds
  • The A.B.C. Murders
  • Murder in Mesopotamia
  • Cards on the Table
  • Dumb Witness
  • Death on the Nile
  • Appointment with Death
  • Hercule Poirot's Christmas
  • Sad Cypress
  • One, Two, Buckle My Shoe
  • 'Evil Under the Sun
  • Five Little Pigs
  • The Hollow
  • Taken at the Flood
  • Mrs McGinty's Dead
  • After the Funeral
  • Hickory Dickory Dock
  • Dead Man's Folly
  • Cat Among the Pigeons
  • The Clocks
  • Third Girl
  • Hallowe'en Party
  • Elephants Can Remember
  • Curtain

Tommy and Tuppence

  • The Secret Adversary
  • N or M?
  • By the Pricking of My Thumbs
  • Postern of Fate

Miss Marple

  • The Murder at the Vicarage
  • The Body in the Library
  • The Moving Finger
  • A Murder Is Announced
  • They Do It with Mirrors
  • A Pocket Full of Rye
  • 4.50 from Paddington
  • The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side
  • A Caribbean Mystery
  • At Bertram's Hotel
  • Nemesis
  • Sleeping Murder

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