Historic Homemaker: Agatha Christie

Historic Homemaker: Agatha Christie

Dame Agatha Christie is best known as being the Queen of the Golden Age of the Detective novel.  In addition to detective novels, she wrote plays, short stories, stand-alone mysteries, and fiction novels under her pseudonym Mary Westmacott. Agatha Christie was also a daughter, wife, mother, and grandmother!


Agatha Christie was born in Torquay, England in 1890.  She was born Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller, the youngest of three children.  Agatha was a very shy child and was homeschooled by her father.  She taught herself to read by the time she was five years old!


Agatha’s father died of a heart attack when she was eleven years old.  After the death of her father, Agatha and her mother, Clara, suffered together through many financial difficulties and became the closest of companions during Agatha’s teen years.


Agatha, who was always rather creative, began to write and publish short stories by the time she was eighteen years old.


In 1912, when Agatha was twenty-one years old, she met Archibald Christie.  They married on Christmas Eve 1914 but due to World War One and Archie being sent off to France, they did not live together as a married couple until after the war in 1918.


Plots come to me at such odd moments, when I am walking along the street, or examining a hat shop…suddenly a splendid idea comes into my head.” -Agatha Christie


During the war years, Agatha Christie’s most famous detective, Hercule Poirot, was born when Christie wrote her first mystery novel featuring the little Belgian detective with an egg shaped head who uses his “little grey cells” to solve the most problematic mysteriesThe Mysterious Affair at Styles was published in 1919 and thirty-three more novels followed along through the years featuring Poirot.  This is not to mention all the short stories that Christie wrote featuring Poirot!


In the year 1919, the Christies also welcomed their only child, daughter Roslalind.  At this point, Archie had a nice job and was able to provide a comfortable home for his wife and daughter.  Agatha had time to explore her writing and enjoy her new baby.


“The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.” -Agatha Christie


Agatha Christie soon invented more sleuths: Tommy and Tuppence followed by the delightful Miss Marple.  She even featured a man who was based upon her husband’s boss at the time: Sir Eustace Pedlar who appeared in The Man in the Brown Suit.  Agatha was highly creative during this time and spent a lot of time writing and traveling with her husband.


Then, in 1926, Agatha’s beloved mother Clara passed away.  Agatha and her mother had been very close since Agatha was quite young and Clara’s death was quite a blow to poor Agatha.  She deeply mourned for her mother but at the same time she felt the pressure to keep writing, for she was under contract and owed her publisher another book.


Right around this time, her husband Archie had an affair and asked Agatha for a divorce.  It is quite evident that Agatha felt utterly miserable, for it was at this time that her famous disappearance occurred.


One evening in December 1926, Agatha left her daughter at home with the maids and took her car out not telling anyone where she was going.  Her car was later found abandoned and a large scale search ensued.  It was later discovered that she had checked into a hotel under another name.  She appeared to be suffering from amnesia due to a possible concussion, for not only did she not recognize Archie when she saw him but she did not know who she herself was.  Agatha was always a shy child and she grew into an incredibly private adult.  She never spoke to the press concerning this incident and what happened during her disappearance.  To this day, it remains a true mystery.


After her disappearance, Agatha underwent psychiatric treatment which required a lot of money.  She was also unable to write during this time so at the advice of a friend, she combined some Poirot short stories into a book and called it The Big Four (an excellent novel, by the way) in order to produce income.


By 1928, Agatha was recovering from her mother’s death, the incidents that lead to her disappearance, and Archie’s affair.  She granted Archie a divorce that year and retained full custody of her daughter Rosalind after the divorce.  Agatha was also finally feeling able to write again and published her first novel under her pseudonym Mary Westmacott.  That novel was a fiction book called Giant’s Bread.  In 1928, Agatha also fulfilled a lifelong dream and travelled on the Orient Express.


In the year 1930, Agatha met and married Max Mallowan, a well-known British archaeologist.  Agatha and Max had a long and happy marriage that lasted until Agatha’s death in 1976.  Agatha and Max travelled together each year and visited various archaeological sites which inspired many plots in her books such as Murder in Mesopotamia and Death on the Nile.


When World War II hit England, Max was sent to Cairo to work for the war effort and Agatha remained behind in England.  She spent a lot of time writing during these years producing such memorable books as And then There Were None and The Body in the Library.


During the war years, Agatha became a grandmother when her daughter Rosalind and her husband Hubert gave birth to son Matthew.  Agatha became a very proud and adoring Grandmother.


After the war, Agatha was ready to slow down but she still loved writing.  She was enjoying writing under her pseudonym of Mary Westmacott but then the American Press uncovered her secret and told the world that Mary Westmacott was actually Agatha Christie.  The saddened Agatha who enjoyed the privacy of writing under a pen name.


Agatha Christie remains to this day the bestselling novelist of all time!  From: Agatha Christie.comShe is best known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, as well as the world’s longest-running play – The Mousetrap. Her books have sold over a billion copies in the English language and a billion in 44 foreign languages.”


Agatha Christie died in January of 1976.  She was eighty-five years old. Her beloved husband Max followed her to the grave two years later.


“I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow; but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.” -Agatha Christie





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I work in a library which suits me just fine, for I adore books and reading. I cherish my nieces and nephews. I admire beautiful clothing from bygone eras. I find comfort in a proper cup of tea. I delight in snowflakes, stardust and pressed flowers. In this beautiful fragmented world, I hold fast to hope.

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