The Independent's journalism is supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission. 

In Focus

Filthy rich and highly subversive – Agatha Christie was anything but a harmless old lady in a tweed suit

It wouldn’t be Christmas without an Agatha Christie – and some cosy serial killing. But, as Christie’s biographer and historian Lucy Worsley reveals, there was a dark side to the author’s murderous imaginings, and the clues are all there in her family life

Thursday 28 December 2023 15:31 GMT
Comments
Penelope Wilton as Miss Pinkerton and David Jonsson as Fitzwilliam in ‘Murder is Easy’, to be shown by the BBC on 27 December
Penelope Wilton as Miss Pinkerton and David Jonsson as Fitzwilliam in ‘Murder is Easy’, to be shown by the BBC on 27 December (BBC)

Do you feel that Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a bit of televisual homicide? Maybe a murder on the Orient Express, or a death on the Nile? Whether you prefer Kenneth Branagh, Peter Ustinov or the great Albert Finney in the role, Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot seems as much a part of the festive season as the tree.

But, if you think about it, consuming crime during what’s supposed to be cosy family time at home is really a bit strange. Especially the dark horrors conjured up by Christie, the brilliant innovator, who wrote a landmark serial killer novel as early as the 1930s, and who could imagine a world where both victims and murderers could be children.

Agatha Christie’s publishers marketed her in her later life as a harmless-looking old lady in a tweed suit, the living embodiment of Miss Marple. But appearances are deceptive. Christie, as a woman, was filthy rich and highly subversive. And hardworking. During her long life, from 1890 to 1976, she wrote 80 books.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in