It was Agatha Christie’s birthday yesterday, on the 15th of September. Born in Devon, England – Agatha initially had a series of rejections from the publishers. Six, to be precise. Until finally her detective story ‘The mysterious affair at Styles’ was published in 1920 introducing the world to the parfait world of Hercule Poirot. The sharp, dynamic Belgian detective with his waxed moustache captured the imagination of readers worldwide. She went on to create many detectives with distinct characteristics – the apparently wooly but sharp as a stinger, Ms Marple ; the duo Tommy and Tuppence. She wrote 66 detective novels and some short stories. She started writing young and at the age of 10 she wrote her first poem –
There was once a little cowslip and a pretty flower too.
But yet she cried and fretted all for a robe of blue.
Now a merry little fairy, who loved a trick to play, just changed into a nightshade, that flower without delay.
The silly little nightshade thought here life a dream of bliss, yet she wondered why the butterfly came not to give his kiss.
Starting out with short stories, her popular detective novels came later. Despite upheavals in her personal life, Agatha continued to do justice to her love of writing and did so until she passed away at the age of 85.
Her writing is inspiring. The characters well woven into the gripping story, giving nothing away until the detectives laid out one card after another on the table for the readers. Thrilling. Short enough to read at one go in those lazy summer vacations from school. A companion of late nights with a torch under the drawn sheets. Invariably, one would read the book again to check for the clues she had craftily given out in bits and pieces on the murderer that you would have overlooked. In fact, Poirot is the only fictional character to be given an obituary in The New York Times after her book ‘Curtains’ was published!
What a writer! And what exceptional writing.
Here are some of my favorite paperbacks. What are yours?
(all images courtesy Wikipedia)