Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, (née Miller) was born on my birthday, September 15, although she made an earlier appearance than I did, in 1890. I always thought it was interesting that we shared a birthday and a vocation, so in honor of that special day this year, decided to find out more about her.
Most people know that she was a crime novelist, her books spawning such protagonists as Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple. Her work as a playwright is also well known, especially her play The Mousetrap, the longest running play ever produced. Less people know that she also wrote short stories and even romances. These last were under a pseudonym, Mary Westmacott. Perhaps there is something to the mutable nature of Virgo, because I, too, write across several genres: action/adventure, fantasy, romance, paranormal, spiritual and satire.
Agatha was raised by strong women who, even though upper-middle class, still encouraged her to make her own way in the world. She worked in a hospital during World War I, a common enough experience for the time, but in 1920 her first novel, featuring Hercule Poirot, was published. In this, she found her true calling. I, too, have strong women in my family, and perhaps for that reason swam against the tide with my writing and was first published in 1984. While not quite the rarity of Christie’s publication in 1920, at the time my first book still felt like a huge milestone. Remember this was still the domain of traditional publishers, and being picked up by a NY house was quite an accomplishment.
Most people may suspect but not know that Christie is the best-selling novelist of all time. There have been claims made that her work ranks third in world-wide published books, right behind the works of Shakespeare and the Bible. Now, I can’t make any such claim for myself … yet. But I’m working on it.
I’ve always had a huge admiration for the women writers of the 1800s and early 1900s. Christie, Beatrix Potter, Louisa May Alcott, the Brontes: these were all women who were going against convention — and a very strongly entrenched convention at that — and winning. I consider them all a huge inspiration, not only to writers, but to people everywhere who want to do what they love without someone telling them they can’t. I would love to think that everyone could have the drive and determination these women did, and never be deterred from their heart’s calling.
In celebration of Agatha Christie’s birthday (and my own), I leave you with one very important thought:
People who say something can’t be done should get out of the way of the people who are busy doing it.
14 thoughts on “September 15: Agatha Christie’s Birthday”
Very timely post for me, and happy birthday, slightly early, Melissa!
I am preparing to write my first cozy mystery in early 2015, so I’ve been reading a number of them, both current and classic. Of course that includes Agatha Christie. How could it not?
Shawn, glad it gave you a little boost. Thanks for the early wishes.
Well an early happy birthday to you. You also share one with my daughter – and she too writes well and would like to become an editor. Is it coincidence? Who knows, but it’s fun to speculate.
Agatha is an icon and an inspiration to generations of writers. So cool to share a birthday with her.
Wow, maybe we should start a 9/15 club? All great writers, of course! Thanks, Yvonne. I told my husband I wanted the Grand Canyon for my birthday, and that’s exactly what I’m going to get.
You certainly will – in your dreams. 😀
No; for reals. Oh, I’ll have to share it with 5,000 of my closest friends, but that’s okay. It’s a bit place.
Agatha Christie was and still is my favorite writer. Hercule and Miss Marple have entertained me for years. Funny, I am presently reading “The Seven Dials Mystery.” She was a remarkable woman. Happy Birthday to you both.
I think Elizabeth Peters did a great job wrapping the reader in the same kind of coziness of Christie.
Thanks, Aron. I confess, I have never read Christie, just seen the movies, as mysteries have never been my cup of tea. I do like Poirot in the movies, tho. And it’s always fun to try to guess whodunnit.
Happy happily shared birthday Melissa 🙂
Loved, “I consider them all a huge inspiration, not only to writers, but to people everywhere who want to do what they love without someone telling them they can’t.”
Happy birthday Melissa!
Agatha Christie made me fall in love with mysteries. She is the master of the genre. Great post.
Thanks, Lois. I guess I am just going to have to pick up one of hers, finally. No doubt I’ll find something to learn from it.
An early, heart felt, happy birthday to you both for the 15th, Melissa. The Grand Canyon sounds really good, I will definitely be including it when I eventually visit the US of A. Funny thing, I’ve been to 38 countries and never got there yet… Soon though, for sure, very soon.
Thanks, TD. Yes, it’s definitely a place to see when you get around to us. When you do, let me know–I’m only 2 hours from the Canyon. It would be fun to hook up. My husband and I were in Tasmania in 2004 and loved it.
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