Agatha Christie’s Birthday

Happy Birthday to Agatha!

Agatha Christie

Today is the day we (writ­ers, okay, read­ers too) cel­e­brate Agatha Christie’s birth­day. She is the moth­er-lode of mys­ter­ies. Her spe­cial­ty was plac­ing a mur­der in a small vil­lage that is then solved by col­lect­ing clues, notic­ing per­son­al­i­ty traits, and inven­tive think­ing. Add a bake shop, knit­ting club, or a sim­i­lar bit of savory eat­a­bles, per­haps a small busi­ness, or hob­by, and a col­lec­tion of peo­ple, often women, and you have today’s cozy mys­tery. Read­ers, and writ­ers as well, love the puz­zle they find in the cozy mystery.

Today with the pan­dem­ic hit­ting the world, many find their com­pan­ion­ship in the pages of a real book, or per­haps in the elec­tron­ic ver­sions found on their hand-held library of choice. (I know, my home does­n’t have enough shelf space for the vol­umes my Kin­dle carries.)

Dame Agath­a’s first mys­tery was pub­lished in the Unit­ed States in 1920, and in Eng­land in 1921. She died in 1975, but the last first pub­li­ca­tion of a book she wrote was in 2014. She had writ­ten it in 1954 to raise mon­ey for a church. In 1974 and 1975 the last cas­es for Poirot and Miss Marple were pub­lished, but they were both writ­ten in the 1940s. Her books came out, one to three titles a year! Wow, she was pro­lif­ic. She also wrote 165 short sto­ries, most­ly in col­lec­tions. Aaaaand, she also wrote six romances as Mary Westmacott.

They were all writ­ten before com­put­ers, pos­si­bly some before type­writ­ers. Okay, not before type­writ­ers. Type­writ­ers were invent­ed in 1868. But that fac­toid shows me anoth­er hand­i­cap Agatha Christie had. I found that fact out in less than a minute on my com­put­er. Dame Agatha would have had to get in a car, dri­ve to a library, park the car, walk into the library, walk through aisles of books, pick out one or five, take them to the library table, scan through them until she found that fact, if, in truth, the library just hap­pened to have the book she need­ed. Accord­ing to how far she lived from the library — a half day or more spent with the pos­si­bil­i­ty of not find­ing her fact. Anoth­er option: change the sen­tence so she did­n’t even men­tion a type­writer, or wax elo­quent­ly about how her char­ac­ter used a love­ly, spe­cial­ly designed pen to write.

So, give thanks to Agatha Christie — and the march of time that pro­vides we eager read­ers with a Kin­dle or Nook and instant access to the book of our choice!

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