Agatha Christie (1891-1975), English novelist, born at Torquay. She was educated privately and in Paris. In 1914 she married Archibald Christie, and during the First World War worked in a Torquay hospital. In 1920 she wrote her first detective story, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, introducing her famous Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, who scorned the traditional Holmesian clue-hunting and solved his mysteries by employing psychology and the 'little grey cells' of his brain. Further Poirot mysteries followed, and in 1926 The Murder of Roger Ackroyd caused a sensation by making the narrator of the story the criminal. In the same year she was reported missing and was finally discovered at a Yorkshire health resort suffering from loss of memory: this was the great mystery of her own life, for the press insisted it had all been a publicity stunt. In 1928 she was divorced and in 1930 married Max Edgar Lucien Mallowan, an archaeologist, whom she later accompanied on many of his expeditions (several subsequent novels were set on the location of his archaeological digs).
Agatha Christie's finest works are those written in the 1920s and 1930s, including The Mystery of the Blue Train, 1928, The Seven Dials Mystery, 1929, Murder at the Vicarage, and Peril at End House, 1932, Murder on the Orient Express, 1934, The A.B.C. Murders, 1935, Dumb Witness, 1937, and Hercule Point's Christmas, 1938.
She was at her best writing about domestic murders in the respectable middle class world. Though Poirot was her most famous detective, she created several others: Parker Pyne, Tommy and Tuppence, Harley Quinn, and Miss Jane Marple.