Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dame Agatha Christie, DBE (15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976), was a British crime writer of novels, short stories and plays. She also wrote romances under the name Mary Westmacott, but she is best remembered for her 80 detective novels—especially those featuring Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple—and her successful West End theatre plays.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Christie is the best-selling writer of books of all time and, with William Shakespeare, the best-selling author of any kind. Only the Bible has sold more than her roughly four billion copies of novels According to UNESCO, Christie is the most translated individual author, with only the collective corporate works of Walt Disney Productions surpassing her. Her books have been translated into at least 103 languages.

Christie's stage play The Mousetrap holds the record for the longest initial run: it opened at the Ambassadors Theatre in London on 25 November 1952 and as of 2010 was still running after more than 23,000 performances. In 1955, Christie was the first recipient of the Mystery Writers of America's highest honour, the Grand Master Award, and in the same year Witness for the Prosecution was given an Edgar Award by the MWA for Best Play. Most of her books and short stories have been filmed, some many times over (Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile and 4.50 From Paddington for instance), and many have been adapted for television, radio, video games and comics.

In 1968, Booker Books, a subsidiary of the agri-industrial conglomerate Booker-McConnell, bought a 51 percent stake in Agatha Christie Limited, the private company that Christie had set up for tax purposes. Booker later increased its stake to 64 percent. In 1998, Booker sold its shares to Chorion, a company whose portfolio also includes the literary estates of Enid Blyton and Dennis Wheatley.

In 2004, a 5,000-word story entitled The Incident of the Dog's Ball was found in the attic of the author's daughter. This story was the original version of the novel Dumb Witness. It was published in Britain in September 2009 in John Curran's Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks: Fifty Years Of Mysteries, alongside another newly discovered Poirot story called The Capture of Cerberus (a story with the same title, but a different plot, to that published in The Labours Of Hercules). On November 10, 2009, Reuters announced that The Incident of the Dog's Ball will be published by The Strand Magazine.

Other works based on Christie's books and plays

Plays adapted into novels by Charles Osborne

  • 1998 Black Coffee (featuring Hercule Poirot, based on the 1930 play Black Coffee)
  • 1999 The Unexpected Guest (featuring Miss Marple, based on the 1958 play The Unexpected Guest)
  • 2000 Spider's Web (based on the 1954 play Spider's Web)

These three novels are now available in the collection Murder In Three Stages.

Plays adapted by other authors

  • 1928 Alibi (dramatised by Michael Morton from the novel The Murder of Roger Ackroyd)
  • 1936 Love from a Stranger (dramatised by Frank Vosper from the short story Philomel Cottage)
  • 1939 Tea for Three (dramatised by Margery Vosper from the short story Accident)
  • 1940 Peril at End House (dramatised from her novel by Arnold Ridley)
  • 1949 Murder at the Vicarage (dramatised from the novel by Moie Charles and Barbara Toy)
  • 1977 Murder at the Vicarage (dramatised from the novel by Leslie Darbon)
  • 1981 Cards on the Table (dramatised from the novel by Leslie Darbon)
  • 1993 Murder is Easy (dramatised from the novel by Clive Exton)
  • 2005 And Then There Were None (dramatised from the novel by Kevin Elyot)