Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born on 15 September 1890 in
Torquay, England. Her father, Frederick, was an outgoing American with an
independent income. Her mother, Clara, was rather shy; Agatha resembled
her greatly in personality. There were two other children - Madge and
Monty, both older than Agatha.
Although Madge received a formal education,
Clara decided Agatha should not. She intended that Agatha be taught to
read when she was eight; however, by the age of five Agatha had already taught
herself to read. The rest of her education was through a mixture of tutors,
part-time schooling and French finishing schools. She also trained as a singer
and pianist and had it not been for her extreme shyness, she had the talent to
have made this her career.
When Agatha was eleven her father died and she became even
closer to her mother. Without Frederick, Clara became restless and began to
travel, at times taking Agatha with her; these early trips began Agatha's
lifelong love of travel.
In 1912 Agatha met Archie Christie, her future husband, a
qualified aviator who had applied to join the Royal Flying Corps. After a
tempestuous romance, they married on Christmas Eve 1914, by special licence,
with Archie returning to the war in France on Boxing Day.
Agatha was not idle during the war. She became a nurse in the
Voluntary Aid Detachment of the Red Cross Hospital in Torquay - ultimately
working in the dispensary where she enjoyed the work and completed the
examination of the Society of Apothecaries.
Although Agatha had amused herself as a child, acting out
stories and make believe, her writing career really began after her sister
Madge challenged her to write a novel. It took several years to get her first
book The Mysterious Affair at Styles published - with the publisher
suggesting an alternative final chapter - but the reviews were kind and the
murder by poison so well described that Agatha received the unprecedented honour
of a review in the Pharmaceutical Journal!
Agatha’s happiness was complete when Rosalind, her only daughter
was born on 5th August 1919 but by 1926, her life was in tatters: Christie’s
mother Clara died and Archie left her for another woman.
Christie slowly rebuilt her life and in 1930 she visited Baghdad
for a second time. It was here she met Max Mallowan. Max took Agatha on a tour
of Baghdad and the desert - it was an action-packed journey - their car got
stuck in the sand and they were rescued by the Desert Camel Corps! When they
reached Athens, Agatha received a telegram saying that Rosalind was seriously
ill. Agatha's only concern was to get home, however she had badly sprained her
ankle on an Athens street and was unable to walk. Max chose to accompany her
back to England. She could not have made the trip without him and when they
reached home he proposed and she happily accepted.
Agatha accompanied Max on his annual archaeological expeditions
for nearly 30 years. She continued to write, both at home and on field trips and her bookCome, Tell Me How You Live wittily describes her days on digs in
Syria. She and Max were happily married for 46 years. After a
hugely successful career and a wonderful life Agatha died peacefully on 12