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Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie

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Queen of Crime

She has sold more than two billion books globally, translated into over 45 languages, and her flagship characters Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple have become synonymous with murder mystery. But who was the Queen of Crime?

Early Years

Born in Torquay on 15th September 1890, Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was the daughter of an American stockbroker and his British wife. She was baptised at All Saints Church in Torquay, and her father was a respected member of the community and member of Royal Torbay Yacht Club.
She had various marriage proposals, including an arrangement with Reginald Lucy, who lived in Hesketh Crescent, before conducting a whirlwind romance with sub-altern Archie Christie. He proposed after a concert at Torquay’s Pavilion; they married in 1914 and honeymooned at the Grand Hotel before Archie went off to war. During WWI Agatha worked at the dispensary in Torquay Town Hall, where she met many Belgian refugees - the inspiration for the creation of her most famous sleuth, Hercule Poirot. She also learned about poisons that would later inspire some of her fictional works. In 1919 she gave birth to her only daughter, Rosalind.

Becoming the Queen of Crime

She published her first novel, The Mysterious Affair At Styles (completed at Haytor on Dartmoor), in 1920, introducing the character of Hercule Poirot to the world. Miss Marple’s debut came in 1930 with The Murder at the Vicarage. She also began publishing a number of romantic novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott.

Her murder mystery stories quickly gained popularity, but sadly her first marriage ended in divorce in 1928.

In 1930 she met and married archaeologist Max Mallowan, and in 1938 the couple bought the Greenway Estate on the River Dart. Although she never wrote at Greenway (preferring instead to keep it as a family retreat), she would test out new stories on the family here. She spoke often of her fond memories for the house, including bathing at Elberry Cove. She commissioned a stained glass window in Churston Church from the proceeds of her book Greenshaw’s Folly, and Greenway is now a National Trust property that continues to be a popular draw for Christie’s legions of fans. 

In 1956 she was made a CBE, and later a dame, in recognition of her contribution to literature. She continued to write until her peaceful passing on 12th January 1976.

Dartmouth Steam Railway and Riverboat Company

Dartmouth Steam Railway and Riverboat Company

The Dartmouth Steam Railway from Paignton runs for seven miles in Great Western tradition along the spectacular Torbay coast to Churston and through the wooded slopes bordering the Dart estuary to Kingswear. The scenery is superb, with seascapes right across Lyme Bay to Portland Bill on clear days....

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