She was considered the most popular author in the world when she died, having written more than eighty books during her lifetime. British author, Agatha Christie’s books have sold over 2 billion copies. She wrote plays, short stories, poetry, and novels under her real name, and romance books under the pen name, Mary Westmacott.
Christie wrote her first detective novel in 1920, The Mysterious Affair of Styles, which featured her most famous detective, fastidious Hercule Poirot. She had learned about poisons and their affects while working as a volunteer aid detachment (VAD) at the Devon England hospital during WWI. By the end of the war, she qualified as an “apothecaries’ assistant,” someone who dispensed medications – a perfect side job for a mystery writer.
Known as “The Queen of Crime,” Christie wrote 66 mystery novels featuring Poirot, and her other famous detective, Miss Marple. Christie also published fourteen short story collections. And, she wrote the world’s longest running play, The Mousetrap, which opened in England in 1952, and is still playing after more than 25,000 performances.
During the Blitz in WWII, she worked as a pharmacy assistant in London, finessing her knowledge of poisons. After the war, Christie was awarded the first Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America. She was also awarded an Edgar Award in 1955 for her play, Witness For the Prosecution.
Her best selling novel of all time, And Then There Were None, was published in 1939. In later years, Christie tired of her famous Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot. But his popularity kept him in the forefront of her works. Determined to give the readers what they wanted, Christie continued to feature him throughout her books.
Christie began to suffer from the effects of dementia in the early 1970s. Agatha Christie died on January 12, 1976 in Oxfordshire, England. She was 85. She was buried in St. Mary Churchyard. It was rumored that at the time of her death, she still had one Miss Marple novel that had not been published, but as yet, has not been released. However, one of Christie’s essays was discovered in 2012, and published in the UK amid much fanfare. Agatha Christie was made a Dame of the British Empire in honor of her contribution to writing in 1971.