As Agatha Christie fans celebrate what would have been the author’s 125th birthday this month, we pay tribute to the world-famous crime writer and explore the events marking her anniversary
This month sees the 125th anniversary of the birth of one of the world’s greatest crime writers, Dame Agatha Christie.
Best known for her literary hat-trick (penning the stories of Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot and the West End play The Mousetrap), Dame Christie’s 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections also feature the detective skills of lesser known sleuths. These include husband and wife team Tommy and Tuppence Beresford – a partnership that was brought to life this summer by the BBC in its six-part series Partners in Crime, starring David Walliams and Jessica Raine. If you missed it, the good news is it’s just out on DVD, priced at £17.49 from the BBC’s online shop (www.bbcshop.com).
To celebrate this milestone year, group-friendly events are being held up and down the country – though there’s no greater tribute to the longevity of Dame Christie’s work than the play she penned back in 1952, and which is still running today.
Famed as the West End’s longest running show, The Mousetrap – which is now in its 63rd year – has spent the past 40-plus years at St Martin’s Theatre in West Street and still plays to sell-out crowds. According to its website (www.the-mousetrap.co.uk), over the years the play’s seen 400-plus actors appear on stage, 124 miles of shirts have been ironed and more than 426 tons of ice cream sold! It’s currently booking until January 2017, with prices starting at £17.50.
Join the International Agatha Christie Festival
In honour of Dame Christie’s birthday, her birthplace – the seaside town of Torquay in Devon – is playing host to The International Agatha Christie Festival this month, from 11-20 September. Plan a last-minute group visit at www.agathachristiefestival.com, where you’ll find details of the festival’s celebrations, including literary talks from best-selling crime writers, theatre performances, talks, writers’ workshops, children’s events, cookery demonstrations, film screenings, a birthday garden party and even a tea dance.
You can also walk the ‘Agatha Christie Mile’ on 17 September, and join renowned Agatha Christie expert Frank Turner for an informal walk around the bay, exploring the places associated with her life and work, and discovering more about the time she spent growing up in Devon, including her brief wartime honeymoon with Archie Christie. The walk starts at the main entrance to Torre Abbey – see the website for more details.
To watch a video of Dame Christie’s grandson talking about her life and work, visit www.agathachristie.com
Explore Dame Christie’s private photo collection
Plan a very last-minute trip to London and you’ll just catch Bankside Gallery’s exhibition of Dame Christie’s private photographs. Running until 6 September, Agatha Christie: Unfinished Portrait offers a fresh insight into the author’s life, featuring never-before-seen photos from the queen of crime’s private collection.
Dame Christie’s own words are used to caption each photograph, which chart her life from early childhood, through two marriages. The exhibition’s ‘ jewel in the crown’ is a portrait of the author by expressionist painter Oscar Kokoschka, which was painted in 1969 for her 80th birthday.
Once the exhibition closes, it will go on tour, appearing first at Torre Abbey in Torquay as part of the International Agatha Christie Festival (see above for details). Find out more about the exhibition at https://banksidegallery.com