Q. Who owns the rights to Agatha Christie's books and who should I contact if I want to quote from her books?
A. Agatha Christie Ltd, an Acorn Media Group company, 4th Floor, 67-68 Long Acre, London WC2E 4JD.
Q. How many Agatha Christie books have been sold?
A. Over two billion – and this is only a conservative estimate.
Q. What is her bestselling book?
Q. If I’ve never read an Agatha Christie book, where should I start?
Q. Did she have a favourite book?
A. In Agatha Christie’s Autobiography she listed Crooked House and Ordeal By Innocence as two of her most successful books and described the book and play of And Then There Were None as “a better piece of craftsmanship than anything else [I have] written”
Q. Did she have a favourite character?
A. Agatha Christie cited Mr Harley Quin, inspired by the Harlequin from commedia dell’arte, as one of her favourite creations. Read about Mr Harley Quin in the Omnibus collection The Complete Quin and Satterthwaite.
Q. What did Christie think of the film adaptations?
A. Max Mallowan, her second husband, said that although Agatha Christie generally disliked the film adaptations she thought that Sidney Lumet’s 1974 film of Murder on the Orient Express was very well done. Sadly, she never saw the excellent television series which have introduced her characters to new audiences worldwide.
Q. Were her plots based on real events or people?
A. Agatha Christie’s characters are based on her daily observations, drawn from everyday surroundings. See How Christie Wrote or read An Autobiography for more information.
Q. Which locations were based on real places?
A. Her fictional villages, such as St Mary Mead, were amalgams of several places that she knew. Where places have their real names (Churston, Torquay, Egypt) they are based on the actual places.
Q. Who was Agatha Christie influenced by?
A. In An Autobiography she names several authors. She was interested in the works of Arthur Conan Doyle, Graham Green, Charles Dickens and Alexander Dumas, to name but a few.
Q. Who was Mary Westmacott?
A. Agatha Christie wrote romantic fiction under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott.
Q. Where is The Mousetrap showing?
A. The Mousetrap continues to run at St Martin’s Theatre, West St, London. It is the longest running stage play in the world.
Q. Where is the real island that the fictional island in And Then There Were None was based on?
A. The island is Burgh Island off the coast of South Devon.
Q. Can I still travel on the Orient Express?
A. The world famous train the 'Venice-Simplon Orient Express' still carries passengers across Europe in the same luxury that Agatha Christie experienced. Find out more at http://www.orient-express.com
Q. Is there an Agatha Christie museum or centre and where is it?
A. The Torquay Museum in Torquay has a special gallery devoted to Agatha Christie. Find out more on their website
Q. Where can I get first editions of Agatha Christie books?
A. There are a number of excellent online resources for first editions. We suggest Abebooks as a good starting point http://www.abebooks.co.uk. Or you can purchase copies of the Facsimile Editions published by HarperCollins in the UK - these are exact replicas of the first editions.
Q. Is there still a moratorium on professional productions of her plays?
A. Agatha Christie Ltd entered into an exclusive professional partnership with Bill Kenwright Ltd to return Agatha Christie’s works to to major regional theatres in the UK from 2005. Professional productions therefore remain generally unavailable for license at this time in the UK and for the immediate future.
Q. Who do I contact to put on an amateur production?
A. Samuel French licenses English language amateur productions of original Christie plays worldwide and can be contacted at http://www.samuelfrench.com
Q. What location was famously used as St Mary Mead in the Joan Hickson series?
A. Nether Wallop in Hampshire
Q. What location was used as Whitehaven Mansions in the Poirot TV films?
A. Charterhouse Square in London EC1
Q. Who wrote the catchy theme music to the Joan Hickson Marple series?
A. Ken Howard and Alan Blaikely
Q. Is the house Agatha Christie was born in still standing?
A. Unfortunately, it was knocked down many years ago. However you can visit Greenway House in Devon which Agatha Christie owned and in which she and her family spent many summer holidays. For more information see this article
Q. Why were the book titles changed for the US market? A. The publishers Dodd Mead felt that different titles would appeal more to the American book-buying public. Often, but not always, they added ‘murder’ or ‘death’ or ‘fatal’. Sometimes they were changed to make sense to the American buyers, eg 4.50 from Paddington would not have meant much to an American audience; Lord Edgware Dies would not have had the same resonance; Murder in the Mews is (still) a very English sounding title.
Q. Why is there controversy surrounding the title “And Then There Were None”?
A. The original title Ten Little Niggers carries potentially offensive connotations today that it didn’t on original publication and that Agatha Christie never intended in the original. Agatha Christie Ltd therefore made the decision to use the title And Then There Were None - under which this novel was actually first published in the USA in 1940 - in order to avoid causing any potential offence and to maintain consistency worldwide.
Q. How did Agatha Christie die?
A. Agatha Christie died peacefully, at home, after a brief cold. Her death made front page news worldwide and there were lengthy obituaries in the leading national newspapers.
Masthead Photography: Joan Hickson image © BBC
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