Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born in Torquay, Devon, United Kingdom, in 1890. Her parents were well to do and governesses and tutors taught Agatha. She married WWI fighter pilot Archie Christie in 1914. While he was fighting in the war, she worked in a hospital and then a pharmacy where she learned information she would later use in many of her novels. They had one daughter, Rosalind Hicks.
In 1928, Christie and her husband divorced two years after Agatha discovered he was having an affair. In 1930, she married Sir Max Mallowan an archeologist 14 years her junior who she met in Mesopotamia. Their extensive travels provided numerous settings for future novels including Murder on the Orient Express written while she was in Istanbul, Turkey.
In 1915, Agatha wrote The Mysterious Affair at Styles that introduced retired Belgian police officer, Hercule Poirot. Not published until 1920, her first novel set the course for the rest of her life. She followed with more than 30 Poirot novels and 55 short stories. She helped define the Golden Age of fiction during the 1920s and 1930s, particularly developing the cozy mystery style.
In 1930, she introduced Miss Jane Marple, the beloved mystery-solving spinster who lived in the quaint village of St. Mary Mead, in The Murder at the Vicarage. Although Christie stated publicly that she did not like Poirot, he was featured in more than twice as many novels as Miss Marple, whom she liked. Most of the Poirot novels were written early in her career while the second Miss Marple novel was not written until the 1940’s.
In 1955, she was the first recipient of the Mystery Writers of America’s highest honor, the Grand Master Award. She won numerous other awards during more than fifty years of writing.
Agatha Christie continued to write throughout her life including 55 detective novels and many short stories and screenplays. She also wrote romance novels under the pen name Mary Westmacott. She became a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1971. She died January 12, 1976 at the age of 85 of natural causes.
The Guinness Book of World Records, among others, declared her the best selling writer of all time. Only the Bible has outsold her collective works. Dame Agatha Christie left a powerful legacy for readers and writers of mystery fiction. Her books were translated into more than 45 languages, and numerous plays, movies, and television series were based on her stories. In Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple, Christie created two of the most recognizable characters in all of fiction.