Report of General Monthly Meeting

Agatha Christie
A talk given by Cllr Angela Clear on 11th July 2017

We were delighted to welcome the former Mayor of Winchester, Angela Clear, to give the Winchester U3A monthly talk on Tuesday 11 July about one of her passions – the life and work of Agatha Christie.

We learned about Agatha’s early life. She grew up in Torquay into a prosperous family, and her mother encouraged her to write. After studying music in Paris, she married Archie Christie, at that time in the Royal Flying Corps, in 1914. (Her time working as a nurse and a pharmacist during the war gave her extensive knowledge of poisons to draw on for her fiction.) Their only child, Rosalind, was born in1919: Rosalind’s son, Matthew, was fortunate enough to be granted the royalties from the play ‘The Mousetrap’!

Agatha’s published writing began with ‘The Mysterious Affair at Styles’ in 1920, when Hercule Poirot made his first appearance. Then the hugely popular ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd’ appeared in 1926.

However, Agatha was devastated when – soon after the death of her mother - Archie asked for a divorce in 1928. Then came the time of her ‘disappearance’ for eleven days – her car was found parked on the edge of a deep quarry, and a big police hunt took place. She was finally ‘found’ in a hotel in Harrogate, where today there is an Agatha Christie room, commemorating this difficult time in her life. After her return home, she was able to concentrate more fully on her writing, and her books gradually became more and more popular. Her life took another turn when she met Max Mallowan, an archaeologist and Egyptologist, and they married in 1930. In the same year ‘Murder at the Vicarage’ was published, and the endearing and shrewd character, Miss Marple, was born.

The house where she spent time in her later years (she died in 1976), Greenway, on the river Dart at Dittisham in Devon, is now open to the public, and is full of memorabilia from Agatha’s long life.

The U3A audience very much enjoyed learning more about the sometimes turbulent personal life of Agatha Christie, and her amazing output of bestsellers - altogether a really fascinating talk.

Julia Whitburn