Agatha Christie was born in Torquay, in the county of Devon, as the daughter of Frederick Alvah Miller, an American with a moderate private income, and Clarissa Miller. Her father died when she was a child. Christie was educated home, where her mother encouraged her to write from very early age. At sixteen she was sent to school in Paris where she studied singing and piano. Christie was an accomplished pianist but her stage fright and shyness prevented her from pursuing a career in music. In her books Christie seldom referred to music, although her detectives, Poirot and Miss Marple, show interest in opera and Poirot sings in THE A.B.C. MURDERS (1936) a World War I song. When Christie's mother took her to Cairo for a winter, she wrote there a novel. Encouraged by Eden Philpotts, neighbor and friend in Torquay, she devoted herself into writing and had short stories published.
In 1914 Christie married Archibald Christie, an officer in the Flying Royal Corps; their daughter, Rosalind, was born in 1919. During World War I she worked in a Red Cross Hospital in Torquayas a hospital dispenser, which gave her a knowledge of poisons. It was to be useful when she started writing mysteries. Christie's first detective novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, introduced Hercule Poirot, the Belgian detective, who appeared in more than 40 books, the last of which was CURTAIN (1975). The Christies bought a house and named it 'Styles' after the first novel.
Poirot was an amiably comic character with egg-shaped head, eccentric whose friend Captain Hastings represents the "idiot narrator" - familiar from Sherlock Holmes stories. Poirot draws conclusions from observing people's conduct and from objects around him, creating a chain of facts that finally reveal the murderer. '"He tapped his forehead. "These little gray cells. It is 'up to them' - as you say over here."' Behind the apparently separate details is always a pattern, which only Poirot is able to see.
Miss Marple, an elderly spinster, was a typical English character, but when Poirot used logic and rational methods, Marple relied on her feminine sensitivity and empathy to solve crimes. She was born and lived in the village of St. Mary Mead. Both Poirot and Marple did not have any family life, but Poirot also travelled much. Marple was featured in 17 novels, the first being MURDER AT THE VICARAGE (1930) and the last SLEEPING MURDER (1977). She was reportedly based on the author's own grandmother. Miss Marple made her first screen appearance in 1961 in Murder She Said, starring Margaret Rutherford. It was based on the novel 4:50 FROM PADDINGTON (1957). It was followed by Murder at the Galop (1963), Murder Ahoy (1964), and Murder Most Foul (1964), all directed by George Pollock. The BBC TV series starring Joan Hickson ran 1984-87. Gracie Fields played Miss Marple on television in an adaptation of A Murder Is Announced (1956).
Poirot, a former policeman, was forced to flee his country after the German invasion of Belgium in 1914. His assistant Captain Hastings married in the early 1930s and Poirot settled to London's Whitehaven Mansions. Poirot is short - only five feet four inches tall. He has waxed moustache, egg-shaped head and small feet. Poirot first appeared on screen in Alibi (1931). It was based on THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD (1926), which was partly inspired by Anton Chekhov's novel The Shooting Party (1884-1885). "Every murderer is probably somebody's old friend," Christie wrote in it. With these kind of insights in motives and methods of a murder Christie proved that she could have been a competent teacher at police academies. Peter Ustinov played Poirot in Death on the Nile (1978), Evil under the Sun (1982), and Appointment with Death (1988). David Suchet was Poirot in the UK television series (1989-91). In Murder by the Book (1986) Ian Holm's Poirot investigated his own murder. Tony Randall played Poirot in Frank Tashlin's unorthodox adaptation...
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