Table of Contents | Message Board | Downloadable/Printable Version
BACKGROUND INFORMATION - BIOGRAPHY
Agatha Christie, the author, was born in Devon, England, in 1890 as Agatha May Clarissa Miller, the youngest of three children in a wealthy and conservative family. Since Agatha was educated at home by tutors and lacked regular social interaction, she learned to occupy herself by inventing clever and creative games. She used music and writing to express herself as she suffered from shyness. In 1914, at the age of 24, she married Archie Christie, a World War I fighter pilot. It was while he was off at war and she was working in a hospital that Christie first thought of writing a detective story. This first book was published five years later in 1920.
Christie wrote over 30 mysteries starring the beloved detective, Hercule Poirot. The first was "The Mysterious Affair at Styles." The world loved the slightly awkward and bumbling ways of Poirot, combined with his brilliant insight into people and clues. Among the most popular Poirot books were "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd" (1926), "The Murder on the Orient Express" (1934), and "Death on the Nile" (1937).
When her husband asked for a divorce in 1926, Agatha mysteriously disappeared. Her mother had recently died and she had already been upset. England became obsessed with the case of the famous, missing writer. She was found by police three weeks later in an obscure inn, and explained that she had lost her memory. The author never discussed the incident again. Christie remarried in 1930, wedding Max Mallowan, an archaeologist she became acquainted with on a trip to Mesopotamia.
The other famous and well-loved detective created by Christie was Miss Jane Marple, an aging spinster who solved mysteries in the little English village of St. Mary Mead. Marple’s intuition and intense concentration were the keys to her success. Marple’s character was first introduced in 1930 in "Murder in the Vicarage." In the 12 novels starring Miss Marple, Christie perfected the cozy style of mystery fiction, which came to define the Golden Age of fiction in England during the 1920s and '30s.
Christie was acknowledged as the Queen of the Golden Age, and ultimately became the single most popular mystery writer of all time. She penned over 66 novels, numerous short stories and screenplays, and a series of romantic novels under the name Mary Westmacott. Several of her novels were made into popular films, the most well known being Murder on the Orient Express (1974). She gained worldwide notoriety as her books were translated into more than a hundred languages. In 1971 she was awarded the rare honor of becoming a Dame of the British Empire. Agatha Christie died in 1976.
LITERARY / HISTORICAL INFORMATION
"And Then There Were None" fits in the literary genre of the mystery or detective fiction. The mystery as we know it today appeared only a century and a half ago, with Edgar Allan Poe introducing the first fictional detective. Today, the mystery is the most popular type of fiction, and Agatha Christie remains one of the most widely read mystery authors in the world. Other famous authors who helped develop this genre of fiction are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, with his brilliant detective Sherlock Holmes, and Dorothy Sayers, a contemporary of Christie’s. Yet it was Agatha Christie who became known as the Queen of Crime.
She wrote during the Golden Age of mystery fiction, which began in the 1920s and continued into the 1930s. During this period, people’s prosperity, combined with the affordability of the new paperback helped increase readership of all kinds of books, particularly mystery fiction. Christie is best known for a type of mystery called the cozy, in which an aristocratic hero finds himself in a small, isolated village setting with a sophisticated crime on his hands. She perfected this style and gained international fame.