Dame Agatha Christie, nicknamed the Queen of Crime, scarcely needs an introduction. More than 40 years after her death, the dazzlingly talented, Devon-born writer’s detective fiction is still being enjoyed all over the world. In excess of two billion copies of her books have been sold, making her the best-selling novelist ever.
Christie was a prolific writer, publishing more than 60 mystery novels. They brought her most famous literary creations – Hercule Poirot, the meticulous Belgian private detective, and Miss Marple, the astute spinster with a gift for solving mysteries – to life. In addition, Christie penned numerous short story collections and the world’s longest running play, The Mousetrap, which has captivated West End audiences since 1952.
Literary Success Led to an Elite Title
Christie’s literary career began in earnest during the First World War. She wrote in her spare time while working first of all as a nurse then a pharmacist’s assistant (the latter role gave her an excellent understanding not only of medicines but also poisons, which feature heavily in her crime writing). The budding author was spurred on by her eldest sibling, Margaret ‘Madge’ Miller, who’d challenged her to write an intriguing mystery.
Christie was at the forefront of detective fiction’s golden age, which encompassed the 1920s and 30s. Her fascination with mystery novels remained strong for decades afterwards; she excelled at keeping her stories fresh and inventive. In 1971, the Queen bestowed on Christie the elite title Dame for services to literature, cementing her position as a hugely influential writer.
A Momentous Year for Christie’s Fans
While the famous author preferred to shun the spotlight, she’s been the focus of a great deal of media attention in 2020, including a major documentary on Channel 5, not least because 15 September marked 130 years since she was born to genteel parents in Torquay.
In addition, October marked 100 years since the publication of Christie’s first novel – the result of her sister’s challenge – entitled The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Set at an English manor house, which becomes the scene of a perplexing crime, the novel introduced readers to Poirot. The character of the quick-witted, diminutive detective was inspired by Belgian refugees the novelist had encountered in Torquay during WWI.
Beautiful Devon: Christie’s Spiritual Home
While Christie’s name is recognised globally, it’s most celebrated in stunning Devon. The author spent her formative years there, and as the official website for Christie and her work notes, ‘the area remained close to her heart for the rest of her life’.
As a fashionable seaside resort frequented by Devon’s landowning elite, Torquay was a delightful place for Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller (as she was christened) to grow up. Her childhood home was a comfortable Victorian villa, Ashfield, with a library, orchard and croquet lawn. Christie lived there until her first marriage, in 1914, and returned regularly for many years. Unfortunately, Ashfield was demolished during the 1960s.
Thankfully, Greenway, the holiday home Christie bought near idyllic Dartmouth in 1938, still stands. Now one of the National Trust’s English country houses, it’s open to the public and, appropriately enough, hosts a literary festival. Greenway is spacious, elegant and boasts breathtaking views – no wonder Christie described it as ‘the loveliest place in the world’.
The writer stayed there often with her second husband, archaeologist Sir Max Mallowan. As the wife of a knight, she was entitled to style herself Lady Mallowan. Imagine the couple’s excitement when she received her damehood, the feminine equivalent of a knighthood!
And how appropriate that during a momentous year for Christie’s admirers, David Suchet, the actor widely regarded as giving the definitive portrayal of Poirot, has been awarded a knighthood in the delayed Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Congratulations, Sir!
Enjoy Life as a Titled Devon Landowner
Christie had strong links with Devon; if you love her work or the landscape that was so dear to her, how about treating yourself to a decorative seated title with a small land parcel there?
This opportunity is available wherever you are in the world. Our first-class service enables you to become a Lord and Lady of Dartmouth (or your preferred title/place name) for show purposes. Naturally, this isn’t the same as being honoured by the Queen; but you’ll create a tangible, enduring link with a superb part of England, as well as boosting your perceived social status.