Born into a prosperous Anglo-American family in Torquay on 15 September 1890 and named Agatha Mary Clarissa by her parents, Frederick and Clara (nee Boehmer) Miller.
Acquires the name by which she becomes world famous in 1914 through her Christmas Eve marriage in Bristol to Clifton College graduate Archie Christie, a career soldier and qualified pilot already embroiled in ‘The Great War’.
As her war effort, Agatha becomes a Torquay hospital volunteer and so meets the Belgian refugees who are to influence the character of Hercule Poirot and gains, though her pharmacy duties, a basic knowledge of potions and poisons.
The first Agatha Christie crime novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles is published in 1920 and features the debut of Hercule Poirot.
Another 80 Agatha Christie crime novels and short story collections then follow, along with six romances published under the name Mary Westmacott.
In 1928 she and Archie Christie divorce and she subsequently meets and marries the archaeologist Max Mallowan, later Sir Max Mallowan. In 1938 they buy Greenway House, near Brixham, as a holiday retreat and it remains in family hands until 1999 when passes into the care of the National Trust.
During the Second World War, Max’s knowledge of Arabia sees him posted to North Africa while Agatha volunteers for pharmacy duties at University College, London.
On 21 September 1943, Agatha becomes a grandmother when her only child Rosalind – the daughter of Archie Christie and married to Hubert Prichard – gives birth to a son, Mathew.
In 1971, Agatha is made a Dame Commander of the British Empire, with the result that she and Max become one of the very few married couples in which both partners have earned a knightly honour in their own right.
Today’s estimate is that more than 2 billion of her books have been sold worldwide, making her the world’s best-selling author, out-ranked only by the works of Shakespeare and The Holy Bible.
Agatha Christie is also the world’s most translated novelist, with her books appearing in 100+ languages, according to UNESCO. She is also the most successful woman playwright.
Her play The Mousetrap holds the world record for the longest running theatre show, having opened in London’s West End in 1952 and still playing there, more than 25,000 performances later.
Agatha Christie dies on 12 January 1976, aged 85, and is buried in Oxfordshire.
The last book she writes is Posterns of Fate, a Tommy and Tuppence story, published in 1973 but it is followed into bookshops by Curtain, the last case of Hercule Poirot (1975) and by a final Miss Marple mystery, Sleeping Murder (1976) – both written more than 30 years earlier but held back in accordance with the author’s wishes.
Very many Christie stories have been made into films or television dramas and this year the number will rise even higher with the BBC making a new version of And Then There Were None and screening Partners in Crime, a series based on the Tommy and Tuppence stories and starring David Walliams and Jessica Raine.
Find out more
Please visit the official Agatha Christie website for much more detailed info, a full bibliography, quotes, comments and news: www.agathachristie.com.