Agatha Christie is the world's best-known mystery writer and all-time best selling author of any genre other than William Shakespeare. Her books have sold over a billion copies in the English language and another billion in over 45 foreign languages (as of 2003). As an example of her broad appeal, she is the all-time best-selling author in France, with over 40 million copies sold in French (as of 2003) versus 22 million for Emile Zola, the nearest contender.
Christie published over eighty novels and stageplays, mainly whodunnits and locked room mysteries. She is a major figure in detective fiction for both her commercial success and her innovations in the genre. Although she delighted in twisting the established form, she was scrupulous in "playing fair" with the reader by making sure all necessary information for solving the puzzle was given. One of her early books, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, is renowned for its surprise denouement.
Most of her books and short stories have been filmed, some many times over (Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile, 4.50 from Paddington). The BBC has produced television and radio versions of most of the Poirot and Marple stories. A later series of Poirot dramatizations starring David Suchet was made by Granada Television. In 2004, the Japanese broadcasting company Nippon Housou Kyoukai turned Poirot and Marple into animated characters in the Anime series Agatha Christie's Great Detectives Poirot and Marple, introducing Mabel (Marple's nephew's daughter) and her duck Oliver as new characters.
In December 1926 she disappeared for eleven days, causing quite a storm in the press her car was found abandoned in a chalk pit. She was eventually found staying at a hotel in Harrogate, where she claimed to have suffered amnesia due to a nervous breakdown following the death of her mother and troubles in her first marriage. Opinions are still divided as to whether this was a publicity stunt or not.
In 1930, she married Sir Max Mallowan , a British archaeologist, and her travels with him contributed background to several of her novels set in the Middle East. Other novels were set in Torquay, Devon, where she was born. Famous characters include Hercule Poirot and Miss (Jane) Marple. Her stage play The Mousetrap holds the record for the longest run ever in London, opening at the Ambassadors Theatre on November 25, 1952 and as of 2004 still running after more than 20,000 performances.
Sir Richard Attenborough, who was in the original production, participated in an anniversary performance: "It lasted so long because it is a bloody good play. Agatha Christie is very, very clever indeed."
Two of her novels were written at the height of her career, but held back until after her death: they were the last cases of Poirot and Miss Marple. In the final Poirot novel Curtain, Christie killed her creation and explained in her diary that she had always found him insufferable. She had a great fondness for Miss Marple however, as she had based her characterisation largely on her own grandmother, so she allowed Miss Marple to solve one more mystery in Sleeping Murder and return to the solitude of her village.
- 1920 The Mysterious Affair at Styles (her first book, which introduced Hercule Poirot)
- 1922 The Secret Adversary (introduced Tommy and Tuppence)
- 1923 Murder on the Links
- 1924 The Man in the Brown Suit
- 1925 The Secret of Chimneys
- 1926 The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
- 1927 The Big Four
- 1928 The Mystery of the Blue Train
- 1929 Partners in Crime (fifteen short stories)
- 1929 The Seven Dials Mystery
- 1930 The Murder at the Vicarage (introduced Jane Marple)
- 1930 The Mysterious Mr Quin (introduced Mr Harley Quin)
- 1931 The Sittaford Mystery
- 1932 Peril at End House
- 1933 The Hound of Death (twelve short mysteries)
- 1933 Lord Edgware Dies
- 1934 Murder on the Orient Express
- 1934 Parker Pyne investigates (twelve short mysteries)
- 1934 The Listerdale mystery (twelve short mysteries)
- 1935 Three Act Tragedy
- 1935 Why Didn't They Ask Evans?
- 1935 Death in the Clouds (first published as Death in the Air )
- 1936 The A.B.C. Murders
- 1936 Murder in Mesopotamia
- 1936 Cards on the Table
- 1937 Death on the Nile
- 1937 Dumb Witness
- 1938 Appointment with Death
- 1939 Ten Little Niggers (also known as And Then There Were None, Ten Little Indians)
- 1939 Murder is Easy
- 1939 Hercule Poirot's Christmas
- 1941 Evil Under the Sun
- 1941 N or M?
- 1941 One, Two, Buckle My Shoe
- 1942 The Body in the Library
- 1942 Five Little Pigs
- 1942 The Moving Finger
- 1944 Towards Zero
- 1944 Sparkling Cyanide
- 1945 Death Comes as the End
- 1946 The Hollow
- 1947 The Labours of Hercules (twelve short mysteries featuring Hercule Poirot)
- 1948 There is a Tide (also known as Taken at the Flood)
- 1949 Crooked House
- 1950 A Murder is Announced
- 1951 They Came to Baghdad
- 1952 Mrs McGinty's Dead
- 1953 A Pocket Full of Rye
- 1953 After the Funeral
- 1955 Hickory Dickory Dock
- 1955 Destination Unknown
- 1956 Dead Man's Folly
- 1957 4.50 from Paddington
- 1957 Ordeal by Innocence
- 1959 Cat Among the Pigeons
- 1961 The Pale Horse (murder by thallium)
- 1962 The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side
- 1963 The Clocks
- 1964 A Caribbean Mystery
- 1965 At Bertram's Hotel
- 1966 Third Girl
- 1967 Endless Night
- 1968 By the Pricking of my Thumbs
- 1969 Hallowe'en Party
- 1970 Passenger to Frankfurt
- 1971 Nemesis
- 1972 Elephants Can Remember
- 1973 Postern of Fate
- 1974 Poirot's Early Cases (eighteen short mysteries)
- 1975 Curtain (Poirot's last case, written four decades earlier)
- 1976 Sleeping Murder (Miss Marple's last case, written four decades earlier)
- 1931 The Floating Admiral written together with G. K. Chesterton, Dorothy L. Sayers and certain other members of the Detection Club.
Works written as Mary Westmacott:
- 1930 Giant's Bread
- 1934 Unfinished Portrait
- 1947 The Rose and the Yew Tree
- 1952 A Daughter's a Daughter
- 1956 The Burden
Agatha Christie in fiction
Dame Agatha appears as one of the title characters, with Dorothy L. Sayers, in the fictional murder mystery Dorothy and Agatha by Gaylord Larsen .
- Official Agatha Christie site
- Illustrated Bibliography of 1st Editions
- Project Gutenberg e-text of The Mysterious Affair at Styles
- Project Gutenberg e-text of The Secret Adversary