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Agatha Christie by Mind Map: Agatha Christie
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Agatha Christie

The Author as a Product

Goffman wrote about the awareness of self as others perceive.  Christie (as well as her trust and the marketers of her biographies and adaptations) has been a genius at self presentation. With her expert narration, she is a character in her novels as much as Poirot and Marple.

"The Queen of Crime"

Her 11 day disappearance after revelation of her husbands affair was believed to be a publicity stunt (1926)

Inspired the play "Who Killed Agatha Christie?" (1974), which re-aired in Swindon in 2002

Icon of an English Lady

Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (1971)

Her birthplace in Torquay, England holds an "Agatha Chistie Walk" that is popular for tourists

Subject of BBC Biography, Agatha Christie: A Life in Pictures (2004)

Academic study recently published in the Guardian speculates on aging Christie's mental health

Began with Mystery Novels

Estimated 4 billion copies sold

Vignettes of Upper Middle Class manners and lifestyle

At the time these novels were escapist, as many of her readers where in fact struggling with economic hardship and the terror of two world wars.  Today they can be read with a certain nostalgia for the past, an inquiry into an ideal that never truly existed. 

2 protagonists: dignified Belgian Hercule Poirot & elderly spinster Miss Marple

At the time of composition, it was considered patriotic for the British to sympathize with the Begians, Poirot is the only fictional character to have an obituary published in the New York Times (1975)

Miss Marple dwelt in English village of St. Mary Mead and often appeared confused, reminiscent of Christie's own grandmother

Part of the Golden Age in Detective Fiction

Cosy genre compared to the "hardboiled," tough, insensitive portrayal of violent crime in American mystery, Raymond Chandler, Dashielle Hammett

Murders as a lighthearded puzzle to be solved, with a tidy ending

Country-House Murder: a set of suspects confined to a large house in the English countryside, Cluedo utilized this popular suspect-elimination process that interested readers as a board game that is still manufactured and played, Her play The Mousetrap, with the longest initial run of a play in history, follows the country-house murder convention, Television, Dr. Who (UK, 1963), Whodunnit! (UK, 1972), Mrder, She Wrote (US, 1984), Diagnosis Murder (US, 1993), Jonathan Creek (UK, 1997), Won Best Drama Series in 1998, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (US, 2000)

Keeping Current

Adaptations

Videogames begin in 1988, rapidly released in the 2000s

Graphic novel series released in India

Numerous TV and Film adaptations of her books in France, UK, USA, iTV adaptation of Sparkling Cyanide adds footballers wives, glamour, and nudity (2003)

AgathaChristie.com

Continuing into the information society.  Media discussing media, selling itself, in an interactive format where anyone can participate.

Chatrooms with a constant stream of fan discussion

Grandson Matthew Prichard blogs about his memories of Christie

Online store to purchase books and memorabilia

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The Business

Agatha Christie Ltd. estate manages the media and literary rights to all works

Christie's grandson Matthew Prichard is the heir to the copyright and is still associated with Agatha Christie Ltd.

All licensing arrangements made in association with Chorion, offices in UK, USA, Australia and Japan

Historical Context

First novel: 1920

Directly follows the conclusion of WWI, Decline of old industries like coal mining, Rise of the Labour Party, which did not reach a majority in Parliament by 1945

Ruled by Baldwin, a conservative Prime Minister in the 1920s.

Capital Punishment

After two innocent men were hanged in 1950s Britian, public opinion was increasingly set against capital punishment. In 1957 it was abolished for certain categories of murder: people who murdered on more than one occasion, murdered during a robbery, or killed an on duty policeman or prison officer. In 1965, hanging was abolished for a period of 5 years. However in 1969 it was abolished for all kinds of murder.

A public controversy over the specifics, morality, and legality of murder made for a culture that devoured Christie's genre.

WW2

Christie's novels prior to the Second World War (when such attitudes were more commonly expressed publicly) contain offensive references to Italians, Jews, and non-Europeans generally.  Though most of these connotations were later edited out, Christie will often use physical features to describe people by race. 

Rationing of food in the early 1940s

A climate of incertainty, death of civilians, and destruction of homes