The Original Style of Agatha Christie – Literature Essay
Agatha Christie as an English writer develops Miss Marple, one of her famous mystery, short stories characters in a very detailed and distinctive style. Throughout the world, Christie is recognized as the
best-known mystery writer. She was once influenced by Edgar Allen Poe, Anna Katherine Green, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and G.K. Chesterton, but today, she influence mystery writing. Her style is original and she has defined mystery novels. Growing up she knew writing was the path for her and she continued writing throughout her entire life.
During Agatha Christie’s lifetime, she published 83 books including novels, romances written under the pseudonym of Mary Westmacott, short stories, poetry and the scripts for her plays. Christie was born Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller in Torquay, in the county of Devon. Her father was a man named Fredrick Alvah Miller who unfortunately passed away when she was just a young child. Her mother, Clarissa Miller, encouraged her to write from an early age. Christie was educated at home until age 16 when she was sent to school in Paris where she studied singing and piano. She was shy and had severe stage fright which prevented her from choosing a career in music. Today, Christie is known throughout the world as the queen of crime writing.
Agatha Christie published her first detective book in 1920; The Mysterious Affair at Styles. It was in this book that she created her much loved, Belgian detective character, Hercule Poirot. In addition to Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot is also well known as an Agatha Christie character. Later in life, she bought a house and named it “Styles” after her first novel. Christie’s first major recognition came with The Murder of Roger Ackroyd in 1926 which was followed by some 75 novels that usually made best-seller lists. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was the first book to be published by Collins and marked the beginning of an author-publisher relationship which lasted for over fifty years. Short stories have always been a favorite to write for Christie. The Witness for the Prosecution was written for Munsey Magazine in 1924 and is often known as her best short story. Her best short stories concern poisoning, her favorite murder weapon. On average in her mystery stories, eight out of eleven contain poisonings.
In 1914, Agatha married Colonel Archibald Christie. While her husband was at war, she worked as a nurse in a local hospital where she learned about the poisons that later featured in so many of her crime novels. The two had a child five years later and sadly divorced after. Agatha later went on to marry a well- known archeologist by the name of Sir Max Mallowan. Agatha remained happily married to Max and was often quoted saying, “An archaeologist is the best husband any women can have. The older she gets, the more interested he is in her.”
During Agatha Christie’s lifetime, she sold an estimated 300 million books. One of the most popular writers of all time in any language; her books have been translated into more than 100 languages. She is the second most translated English author (the first is Shakespeare), and has been outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare. In 1955, Christie was he first recipient of the Mystery Writers of America’s highest honor, the Grand Master Award, and in the same year, Witness for the Prosecution was given an Edgar Award by the MWA for best play. The hugely successful play Mousetrap- first written as a radio sketch called Three Blind Mice for the 80th birthday of Queen Mary is said to have made more then three million pounds. The play has become the longest running play in theatrical history and has never been published in England because of its popularity as a play. In 1967, Christie became president of the British Detection Club, and in 1971 she was made Dame of the British Empire.
Agatha Christie’s famous character, Miss Jane Marple is an English favorite. Christie does an amazing job with the development of Miss Marple throughout the twenty short stories and twelve novels focused around this typical English character. Her first appearance was in Murder at the Vicarage in 1930 and the last was Sleeping Murder in 1977, forty-seven years later. “Murder at the Vicarage was published in 1930, but I cannot remember where, when or how I wrote it, why I came to write it, or even what suggested to me that I should select a new character- Miss Marple- to act as the sleuth in the story. Certainly at the time I had no intention of continuing her for the rest of my life. I did not know that she was to become a rival of Hercule Poirot.” When we first meet Miss Jane Marple, she is the stereotypical spinster of the 19th century. The name Miss Marple derives from when Agatha Christie was delayed on the Manchester to Sheffield Hope Valley line at the station of Marple in Marple, Stockport, England. Miss Marple was inspired by Dr. Sheppard’s shrewd sister in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and certain friends of her grandmother, as well as her grandmother. When Agatha Christie created Miss Marple she did not expect to continue writing about her for the rest of her life. Miss Marples first appearance hooked readers around the world.
Miss Marple is able to solve difficult crimes; no crime can arise without reminding her of some parallel incident in the history of her time. She is able to rely on her common sense and village experience to solve crimes. The crime is almost always murder. There is never any attempt to understand the criminal: the murder has to be caught and punished. Miss Marple expects the worst of people, and in this view point she is often right. Human nature, in her observation, is the same everywhere. She does not look like your average detective either. Miss Marple was already an old lady in the first book, around age 65 which proved most unfortunate because she was going to have to last a long time in Christie’s life. She is tall and thin, with a pink, wrinkled face; she has pale blue eyes and snowy white hair which she wears piled upon her head in an old fashioned manor. Miss Marple was often explaining, “The young people think the old people are fools, but the old people know that young people are fools.” Miss Marple is not a likely detective but she always succeeds where the police have failed. A Murder is Announced Agatha Christie’s 50th novel, is regarded by most as the Best Miss Marple novel. Even though she is often seen with her knitting needles, when it comes to solving mysteries, she turns out to have a sharp logical mind. She usually makes an analogy with some village occurrence or character when explaining her reasoning. Overall, Miss Marple has a curiosity as wide as the world. She is a gleeful gossip and not especially nice. Over the years she has modernized and became nicer. Thirteen of the twenty short stories about Miss Marple can be found in The Thirteen Problems (Also known as The Tuesday Club Murders, as it was published in the United States.) In addition to Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot is also well known as an Agatha Christie character. Poirot used logical and rational methods where as Miss Marple relied on her feminine sensitivity and empathy to solve crimes. Marple draws parallels between the everyday mysteries that puzzle her neighbors, and cases of national importance. In her diary, Christie explained that she had always found Poirot insufferable. She had a great fondness for Miss Marple on the other hand.
When Agatha Christie passed away on January 12, 1976 in Wallingford, Oxforshire, she was believed to have left one last novel. The novel featured her famous character, Miss Jane Marple and was published 36 years after she wrote it. It was Miss Marples last case. Agatha Christie’s autobiography was also published after her death. In 56 years, Christie wrote 66 detective novels.
In the Miss Marple short stories, The Thirteen Stories was a collection of Agatha Christie’s mysteries. In the story, The Tuesday Night Club, you meet six characters; Raymond West, Miss Marple Joyce Lemprie’re, Sir Henry Clithering, Dr. Pender, and Mr. Pethrick. Christie briefly describes each character through Raymond’s perspective. In the story, the group starts a conversation centered around “unsolved mysteries.” The discussion intrigues all six people, and they decide to form a club named “The Tuesday Night Club.” The club is to meet every week, and each member in turn has to propound a problem. Some mystery of which they have personal knowledge, and to which, of course they know the answer. The rest of the members play a game of guessing as to what the solution to the unsolved mystery is. The first mystery comes from Sir Henry and is about who put arsenical poisoning in Mr. Joneses wives food. In the end, all members make a guess and only the clever Miss Marple solves the mystery. This surprises the other members and Miss Marple simply explains to them that, they don’t as much of life as she does, due to the fact that she is older, and has lived much longer. When reading this short story, Christie does not include many images other than those related to her famous character, Miss Marple. The story is depicted threw the eye’s of her nephew Raymond and told by Sir Henry, so there is some image development of them as well. The theme of the story is that Miss Marple is able to rely on her common sense and village experience to help her solve the mystery. Agatha Christie’s famous character Miss Marple is more at home in full length novels, but according to Edward D. Hoch, there are some high spots among her shorter cases as well. Although I have not read Agatha Christie’s longer stories, I feel that there is room for further development of Miss Marple as a character in a longer story.
The next story comes from Dr. Pender, The Idol House of Astarte. He tells a story from his past that resulted in the death of Richard Haydon in a most mysterious way. Richard was murdered right in front of all other members in Dr. Pender’s story, yet no one could explain how it was that he had been stabbed. Many of the characters believed that he was killed by an evil presence that was felt in the area. When the story is finished, the group takes turns guessing as to how Richard Haydon was murdered. Once again, the clever Miss Marple uses he deductive reasoning, and is able to correctly guess the murder, his cousin Elliot Haydon. The Idol House of Astarte includes more images then the previous story, The Tuesday Night Club. The images are provided in the attempt to lead the reader to the murder of Richard. If you read into the story the image descriptions lead to the murderer. The theme of this story is clearly to show just how clever Miss Marple truly is. Miss Marple does it again and solves the mystery with no problem at all; in fact she is able to clearly explain what happened and how she was able to come to her conclusion. Many believe that Agatha Christies best stories are those concerning poisoning as a murder weapon. Agatha Christie as well enjoys poison as her murder weapon in stories. Even though poisoning is a very entertaining, who done it, type of murder weapon, I found it very intriguing that she would use something such as getting stabbed in such a mysterious way.
In the story, Ingots of Gold, Raymond West, tells a story, but there is a twist- he doesn’t know the solution. The story involves missing gold and the disappearance of Raymond’s friend, John Newman. As the story pans out, Raymond and the others find John tied up in a hole in his own back yard. John explains that he does not remember much, but he had noticed some men unloading something from a small boat and strolled down to se e what was going on. All he could tell was that something was heavy. Before he could observe anymore, two men rendered him unconscious. When he came to, he was arriving at his house and then being thrown into the ditch. John attempted to place the blame on a man named Kevin but there was no solid evidence. In the end, Raymond knew neither who had taken the missing gold nor who had assaulted his friend John. When he asked everyone in The Tuesday Night Club their views on the situation, both Miss Marple and Sir Henry both had solved the mystery. John himself had stolen the gold and faked his own injuries. Miss Marple also concludes that the so called gardener was John’s partner in crime. Raymond was once again stunned by her wits; he had never suspected his friend John. Ingots of Gold had more images then the previous short stories I have read by Agatha Christie. This particular story does not include murder but rather theft and kidnapping and because of this, is much more descriptive. The placement of characters and the setting plays a key role in the deciphering of the story. The theme of this story is to trust no one, but your own instincts. Raymond West was unable to solve this mystery because he didn’t clearly look at the facts which could have easily led him to in the least, suspect John. Miss Marple ever so clever took what she knew and applied it to this “unsolved” mystery. Miss Marple and Sir Henry clearly viewed John as a possible suspect from the beginning as detectives would do. It is often said that Agatha Christie shows her reader the necessary clues, but she often presents the clues so cunningly that the reader does not see the significance until the crime is solved. Many believe that Agatha Christies best stories are those concerning poisoning as a murder weapon. Agatha Christie as well enjoys poison as her murder weapon in stories.
Agatha Christie is an amazing author and will always be known for her great literary accomplishments. The character development portrayed through Miss Marple is astonishing and has not been outdone since the books were published. Agatha’s works have sold more then any others aside from Shakespeare and the Bible. She has strongly influenced the development of the detective story.