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Agatha Christie (1890-1976) is considered one of the most famous female writers in the world. She is called the classic of the detective genre. She has published 60 novels, as well as collections of stories, plays. The total circulation of the writer's works amounted to 4 billion copies, she was translated into 100 languages of the world. However, there are many myths about the personality of the author himself and about her work. They were created by numerous researchers, critics, fans of creativity.
As a result, many people who have not read Agatha Christie's novels judge them based on common patterns. Legends appear and disappear, despite the attempts organized by real fans to resist the lies.
Despite the fact that not so long ago the world celebrated the 120th anniversary of the birth of Agatha Christie, she remains alive for millions of fans of her work. And when a house-museum dedicated to the writer opened in Devon, they immediately started talking about a ghost that had appeared within its walls. Obviously, the personality of Agatha Christie interests many. Therefore, it is worth debunking the most popular misconceptions about her.
The main culprit in Christie's novels is the butler. The classic phrase "Assassin is a butler!" known to all. It seems that the culprit turns out to be a completely inconspicuous person, whom no one suspected, who was in the shadows for most of the investigation. But the phrase has nothing to do with Christie's novels. In them, the butlers are really supporting characters. In the same "Ten Little Indians" the butler himself was the victim of a criminal. In another novel, the perpetrator poses as a butler, committing murder, and then fakes his disappearance. But the real butler was not a killer in any of Agatha Christie's novels.
The main culprit in Christie's novels is the doctor. Some critics argue that the easiest way to guess criminals in Christie's books is to point to a medic. But this is not entirely true. The Doctor is indeed the main culprit in Christie's four novels. In the other three novels, the perpetrator is a nurse, a dentist, and a pharmacist. In one novel, a doctor became a murderer after performing an operation while intoxicated, but this incident was not the main one for the book. In another novel, a doctor tried to kill Poirot, but failed. In dozens of the author's detectives, there are completely non-bloodthirsty doctors. Christie's killers have a wide variety of professions: actors, secretaries, police officers, teachers, playboys, housewives, military, as well as groups of two, three or more characters.
The writings of Agatha Christie after World War II are not worth reading. A number of critics have noted the decline in the quality of Agatha Christie's detectives in the late period of her work. There is some truth in this statement. While writing The Passenger from Frankfurt and The Gate of Fate, Agatha Christie felt bad as she lived the last years of her life. These works are really not the best, but most of what was written after the war is considered classics. In 1952 the book "Mrs. McGinty Lost Her Life" was published, in 1957 - "At 4:50 am from Paddington" and "Trial of Innocence". In the 1960s, The White Horse Villa and The Endless Night saw the light of day. In fact, every book by Agatha Christie has numerous fans. True, most, but not all of her most famous and popular works, were published in the period from 1930 to 1950. Nevertheless, there are admirers of her work both at the earliest and at the latest period.
Agatha Christie's books are sexist. The writer is accused that in her books she hated women who worked outside the home, adhered to double standards for the sexes, condoned the rape and abuse of men. It's strange to hear this, given that a woman's career has become one of the most successful in the world of literature. Christie herself was brought up in the era of Victorian mores, but in her works there are many strong, intelligent and confident women. It's amazing how Miss Marple never became an alternative icon for feminists at all. After all, this character showed how you can be independent, respected and discerning throughout your life. Robert Barnard once sarcastically remarked that Lady Westholm's image in A Date with Death proves how much the writer hated professional women. However, in the same work, there is Sarah King, a young doctor who does her job well and does not pay attention to gender bias. There are many such heroines in the works of Agatha Christie: Mrs. Oliver, Miss Lemona, Mrs. Maud, Lucy Islesbarrow, Megan Barnard. All of them, especially young heroines, are depicted as strong women, positive characters.
Most of the heroines find the right man and then live happily ever after with him. But it also meant that men needed women in order to find true happiness, and not just the opposite. True, most of Christie's heroines do not focus on their careers. In the ending of Evil Under the Sun, a woman deliberately abandons her successful clothing business in order to marry someone she has loved since childhood. Many saw this as sexism, as in the words of the heroine's lover, who urged her to stop working, otherwise she would be "not good enough." There are indeed some notes of sexism in this, but this is just one episode of many! It should be noted that some of the author's strongest female characters are assassins. Many ladies are much smarter than the men with whom they are associated.
Claims that Christie approves of rape and domestic violence have emerged recently. But there is no evidence for this myth in her books. In The Silent Witness, a woman makes false accusations that her husband is beating up children, but in fact this is not the case. A couple of characters in Nemesis testify that some young women engage in illicit sexual activities and then falsely claim rape. However, here we are talking about the views of the characters themselves, and not the author. In general, in the works of Agatha Christie, the topic of rape was rarely raised, and if it did appear, then the author took it seriously. Christie herself was not interested in reporting on sex crimes. The claim that she ignores violence is a heinous accusation.
Agatha Christie's books are racist. This myth emerged from an analysis of recent television adaptations of her works. There are a few characters who use unwanted epithets and hold offensive views. But in general, such heroes are portrayed negatively. Most often, the author's racism is based on at least the name of her most famous novel - "10 Little Indians" ("And There Was No One"). However, at the time of publication of the book, these words were not considered racist. In any case, the topic of minorities is rarely touched upon in Christie's books. Almost all villains are people of European appearance, with the exception of a Chinese criminal in four major works and some other deadly Asians in the story "The Lost Mine". In "Death Comes at the End" the murderer is an Egyptian, but there all the characters live in ancient Thebes. People of color are victims of murder and assault in The Caribbean Mystery, The Big Four, and Trial of Innocence. In the latest novel, the proposed racial alliance looked positive, and in Hickory Wild Doc, young people from different ethnic backgrounds were friends.
Most of Agatha Christie's killers are gay. This myth, again, emerged from the latest television adaptations of detective stories. It is still worth referring to the primary source. In "Corpse in the Library" and "Cards on the Table" and some other productions, the scriptwriters either changed the original heterosexual preferences of the murderers or changed the gender of the conspirator, creating a homosexual relationship. I must say that this is not a new phenomenon. In the 1989 version of Ten Little Indians, a convinced old maid turns into a dramatic lesbian actress. In any case, none of Christie's killers were gay. An exception can be considered the character in the short play "Rats". There it is assumed that the killer committed a crime of revenge for the one with whom he was in love. In a couple of other cases, the killer's sexual orientation is ambiguous, in the same "Nemesis". In recent productions, directors often change the sexual orientation of some minor characters. For example, in McEwan's recent production of Murder Announced, the characters of Miss Mergatroyd and Miss Hinchcliffe are clearly lesbians, although in the book the girlfriends relationship is vague. In some productions of The Mousetrap, Christopher Wren is portrayed as gay, but many directors refuse this interpretation. After all, if this character is interested in men, then there is no point in his jealousy of the young couple of Giles and Molly Ralston. In all of Christie's work, there is only one obvious gay - a friend of Raymond West, with whom Miss Marple is visiting on vacation in the Caribbean. But this character never appears in the book. And the author uses the word "lesbian" only once in his texts. It is spoken by a teenager at Halloween Party, in response to a young woman's past.
All of Agatha Christie's books are similar to each other. Often, detectives define the author with one single template - there is a certain place where the murder took place, and then an investigation takes place and the culprit is found out. Many plots are really similar in this aspect. However, it is important to understand that motives, characters, methods of investigation and narration change from work to work. As a result, Agatha Christie's novels turn out to be different from each other. In "10 Little Indians", "Endless Night", "Alphabetical Murders" and others, the plots are completely different from anything else in the author's work. Agatha Christie's thrillers are very different from her other books, the development of the plot is original enough for the works to differ from each other.
Agatha Christie's books are dedicated to rich people living in giant mansions with secret passages. A significant number of Agatha Christie's works are really dedicated to rich people. It is logical that they live in houses corresponding to their social status. But this is a reflection of the fact that money is a great motive for murder. That is why the rich, the victims, become heroes. Some books are devoted to the mysteries of country houses, while others are set in metropolitan London. The Endhouse Riddle has a hidden secret panel where the murder weapon was hidden. However, such caches are rare for the estates described by Christie.
The culprit is always the most unexpected character. Agatha Christie is a master of disorientation. She has come up with many ways to make people think in the wrong direction, directing suspicion to this or that character. The writer knew that most readers would never suspect an elderly lady, a child, a detective, a storyteller, or a cyclical character as a criminal. But if the reader cannot suspect the true killer, it is his own fault. A number of detective authors are hiding the true culprit. In such books, he appears in several sentences at the beginning of the book, returning at the end. Then he is already exposed completely. But by that time, the reader had already forgotten about this character. Agatha Christie never did that. Each of her murderers plays an important role in the book, she has never resorted to implausible stories. The criminal is always in sight, the reader simply does not know his true face.
Agatha Christie singled out the British and hated the Americans. This is a rather funny kind of myth about the writer's racism. If she really adored the British so much, then why did the Belgian become her most famous detective? Throughout many of her books, Agatha Christie has indeed locked herself in British society. There are numerous symbols that make one think about the author's dislike for certain nationalities or the emerging offensive stereotypes. However, it is a mistake to believe that these views belong to Agatha Christie herself. With regard to hatred of Americans, you can recall several odious characters from this country. These are Ratchett from Murder on the Orient Express, the incredibly wealthy Number Two in the Big Four, and Mrs Boynton in Date with Death. But they can be classified as exceptions. Americans do not appear very often in Christie's books, but they have many sympathizers with representatives of this nation, for example, with the traumatized children of Boynton in "Date with Death." In "The Mysterious Adversary" and "Endless Night," the attitude towards Americans is favorable. At first glance, a gloomy and irritable man becomes much happier when his one hundred percent European wife agrees to go with him to the United States and become already one hundred percent American. In The Exploits of Hercules, a very friendly American saves Poirot's life, or at least keeps him from being tortured and maimed. And most of the murderers in Agatha Christie's books are English!
Agatha Christie was a snob. As noted earlier, one of the reasons so many murders take place in wealthy homes or comfortable places is because of the money motive. Class conflict is present in several of Agatha Christie's books, most notably After the Funeral and Endless Night. In other works, this is not. Over the fifty years of Agatha Christie's work, the author's sympathies do not relate directly to privileged aristocrats or, conversely, to workers. The author clearly supports decent and kind people. Some of the millionaires in Agatha Christie's detectives are wonderful people, while others are extremely odious. The range of characters of the servants ranges from cute to assassin. The author judges the characters from a personal point of view, so she is not a snob. Agatha Christie unobtrusively emphasizes that living with money is generally easier than without it, but how can you argue with that?
In Christie's books, unknown poisons and exotic methods of murder are constantly encountered. Agatha Christie never used imaginary poisons with unthinkable side effects. It happened that she used a fictitious name for a drug. For example, "Calmo" is a sedative that, when consumed with alcohol, becomes a poison in "And, cracked, the mirror rings." However, these symptoms and reactions to them are similar to real medicines. Probably the author did not want to mention real brand drugs. Manufacturers might be upset to see their product described as lethal in the books. And then a lawsuit would follow. As for the outlandish methods of murder, Christie's criminals use cunning tactics to build their alibis to avoid punishment. You should not look for cunning pistols, lethal gases or explosives, or a stun gun in novels, as in the novels of other authors. The series of novels about Dr. Fu Sachs Romer describes such exotic methods of killing as a deadly snake and other unusual tools. But Agatha Christie's is pretty simple - adding poison to food, conventional firearms, pricks, blows or strangulation. Think of the rather strange electrified chessboard in the Big Four and the poisoned darts in Death in the Clouds.However, the author's weapon is secondary in the narrative, much more important is the drama of the crime itself. Christie actually scoffed at the misconception of her specialization in flashy deaths. Her literary self-portrait, the enigmatic writer Ariadne Oliver, is famous for using outrageous ways to kill people. In "Investigating Parker Pine," Mrs. Oliver remarks that she doesn't particularly like scenarios where dungeons are slowly filling up with water, but readers love it! Similarly to "In the cards on the table" she grins that those people who read her books love unknown poisons. In this she is the complete opposite of Agatha Christie, all the mentioned poisons in which have real analogues.
Agatha Christie's plots are full of mystical clichés. From the point of view of the twenty-first century, this is true. But this happened only because Agatha Christie herself invented most of the detective plots and moves, which have become clichés! The line "strangers arrived at an abandoned house, and then they were killed one by one" was invented by an English writer in "Ten Little Indians", this is just one example. If you've read Christie's novel and met a similar plot twist somewhere before, then it was simply stolen from the original work of an Englishwoman.
Agatha Christie was a lesbian. Of course, it is difficult to state something unambiguously, but it is worth understanding that the writer was married twice. The first marriage took place when Agatha Miller was 24 years old. Colonel Archibald Christie became her chosen one. Of course, he was not the first love of a young woman. She herself admitted that the first strong feeling came to her at the age of four. Then the cousin, blue-eyed Philip became the object of adoration. But she was afraid to tell him about her passion, avoiding meetings in every possible way. Biographers of the writer report that in her youth, cavaliers always hovered around her. The girl attracted her with her graceful manners, wonderful voice, she played the piano perfectly. And at one of the parties, Colonel Charles began to look after Agatha. He was a famous ladies' man and was 15 years older than the girl. The ardent boyfriend began to fill Agatha with sweets, bouquets, wrote her love notes. But this romance did not last long. The girl preferred a family friend, Reggie, to a limited military man. He taught Agatha to play golf, became her first man and was going to marry her. The couple decided to take a break for a couple of years so that Reggie would end the service. But then Agatha Miller met Archibald Christie and fell head over heels in love with him. Soon after the wedding, Rosalind's daughter was born. With motherhood, Agatha Christie got a desire to write, but for the colonel himself, paternity became a reason for treason. That is why the marriage fell apart. In 1930, the writer, while traveling in Iraq, met the archaeologist Max Mallowan. And although he was 15 years younger than Agatha, he became her second husband. She herself wittily noted that the age of a woman is important for an archaeologist, then her value for him increases. It was with this man that the writer lived the rest of her life, dying two years earlier than him, in 1976. Biographers do not know anything about Agatha Christie's connections with women.
Agatha Christie became a writer in a mental hospital. The author's first book, The Mysterious Incident at Styles, was written in 1920. Agatha argued with her older sister, already an accomplished writer, that she herself could write no worse. But the debut work was accepted only by the seventh edition. The book was published in a small print run of 2,000 copies, and the author herself received a tiny fee of 25 pounds. Getting into a psychiatric clinic will happen only after six years. Then the break with her first husband led to a breakdown, the woman disappeared for 11 days. The police knocked down, looking for the fugitive, while she herself was resting at a spa resort under an assumed name. The relatives decided to understand this strange act and turned to psychiatrists for help. So Agatha Christie came to the clinic for examination. Doctors diagnosed her with amnesia due to a head injury. But later, the famous English psychologist Andrew Norman discovered another reason for the mysterious act. In his work "Ready portrait" the specialist said that the woman had a serious psychological disorder - a split personality. But this story has a much simpler and more banal explanation. By her disappearance, the woman simply took revenge on her unfaithful husband. The police immediately began to suspect him of murder.
Agatha Christie made money by sewing underwear. The appearance of such a myth is quite understandable. The woman herself in her youth repeatedly changed professions, trying to find her vocation. At first she wanted to be a musician, but stage fright stood in the way of her dream. During the First World War, Agatha worked in a hospital as a nurse, and she liked it. She herself said that practicing medicine is almost the most useful thing a person can do. And later she was engaged in pharmacy, which ultimately affected her creativity. Researchers estimate that 83 crimes in the writings of Agatha Christie were poisoning. But in the biography of a woman there was never trade or tailoring. And even more, she did not know how to sew at all, considering it a shameful occupation. Agatha Christie laughed, saying that with her products she would definitely scare away all gentlemen from herself. But she knitted well, making socks, gloves, scarves. The grandson of the writer, Matthew Pritchard, still keeps small golf shoes, made by the hands of his famous grandmother.
Agatha Christie herself is hiding under the guise of Miss Marple. The writer herself claims that the prototype of her main character was not at all she, as many wanted to think, but her grandmother. She was a good-natured person, but she expected the worst from everyone. And, what was the strangest, all her expectations were regularly met. This is how her granddaughter remembered her. Miss Marple first appeared in the 1927 story "Tuesday Night Club". This wise woman immediately became the favorite heroine of the writer. And according to the results of the 2007 survey of readers of the Waterstone's book network, Miss Marple was named the most attractive and witty heroine. And the British named Hercule Poirot the most charming character.
Agatha Christie faked her own death while hiding in coal mines after 1976. There is a legend that the writer did not die in 1976, having lived to be 104 years old. She really loved dark indoor spaces, drawing inspiration from there. Agatha Christie chose caves for these purposes, where she stayed for several days. It was this fact that formed the basis of the myth. But in 1976, doctors stated the death of the writer. At that moment, her relatives were next to her. There is no need to talk about staging.
At the end of her life, Agatha Christie suffered from Alzheimer's disease. Specialists from the University of Toronto decided to analyze the author's writing style in the last years of his life. As a result, a study was published that explained the change in style to Alzheimer's disease. But Agatha Christie's grandson, Matthew Pritchard, does not agree with this version. He knew his grandmother from the moment he was born until her death. Agatha Christie was sick, like all people, but she did not have Alzheimer's disease. The writer died at a venerable age from a short cold.