Agatha Christie is the world's best-known mystery writer. The Guinness Book of Records listed her as the best-selling fiction author of all time with an estimated two billion copies of her works sold; a billion copies in the English language and another billion in over 45 foreign languages. It is often said that she is outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare.
Agatha Miller was born in Torquay, England on September 15, 1890. In 1914 she married Colonel Archibald Christie, an aviator in the Royal Flying Corps. The couple had one daughter, Rosalind, before their divorce in 1928.
In a writing career that spanned more than half a century, Agatha Christie wrote 80 novels and short story collections. She also wrote over a dozen plays, including The Mousetrap, which opened in London on November 25, 1952, and is now the longest continuously running play in theatrical history and And Then There Were None, which opened in a new adaptation in 2005.
Christie's first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920), was also the first to feature her eccentric Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. Surely one of the most famous fictional creations of all time, Poirot's 'little grey cells' triumphed over devious criminals in 33 novels and 54 short stories. Christie's last published novel, Sleeping Murder (1976), featured her other world-famous sleuth, the shrewdly inquisitive Miss Jane Marple of St. Mary Mead. Miss Marple was created more than 75 years ago, and she has appeared in twelve novels, as well as 20 short stories, since her debut in The Murder at the Vicarage in 1930.
Both Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple have been widely dramatized in feature films and made-for-TV movies. Murder on the Orient Express (1974), Witness for the Prosecution (1957), And Then There Were None (1945), and Death on the Nile (1978) are a few of the successful films based on her works.
Agatha Christie also wrote six romantic novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott. She wrote nonfiction as well—four books including Agatha Christie: An Autobiography and an entertaining account of the many archeological expeditions she shared with her second husband, Sir Max Mallowan. In 1971, she achieved her country's highest honor when she received the Order of Dame Commander of the British Empire. Agatha Christie died peacefully at home on January 12, 1976 after a short cold.