Dame Agatha Christie
- (1890 - 1976) British writer of detective stories, whoproduced over 20 works for the stage. She has earned a place in theaterhistory by writing the world's longest continuously running play,The Mousetrap, which opened in 1952 and was still going in2006.
The first of her works to be staged was The Murder of RogerAckroyd (1926), adapted in 1928 as Alibi for the Princeof Wales' Theatre. Her first original play, Black Coffee, openedin 1930 at the Embassy Theatre. In 1943 she adapted Ten LittleNiggers (1939) for the St James's Theatre. She said it "setme on the path of being a playwright as well as a writer of books",although The Times claimed, "This is not a play. It isa kind of theatrical game." It ran for 260 performances in Londonand a former 425 performances on Broadway.
Christie's playwriting career hit a low when her 1946 adaptationof Death on the Nile (1937) ran at New York's Plymouth Theatrefor only 12 performances (as Hidden Horizon). The critic BrooksAtkinson called it "dull in theme, dull in story, dull in the acting".This failure was followed by a great hit, the 1949 adaptation of TheMurder at the Vicarage (by Moie Charles and Barbara Toy) whichran for 1776 performances at the Playhouse, London.
Christie had another hit with her adaptation of the shortstory The Hound of Death (1933), renamed Witness for theProsecution. critics called it her best piece of stagecraft. "Ican safely say that that was the only first night I have enjoyed"she later wrote. Her last work for the stage, produced in 1972 whenshe was 82, was Fiddlers Three, a comedy-thriller that openedin Guildford but never transferred to the West End.
Her private life created its own mystery. In 1914 she marriedArchibald Christie, whose name she used throughout her writing career,despite the fact that they were divorced in 1928 and she subsequentlymarried the archaeologist Max Mallowan. In 1926 Christie disappearedfrom view for several weeks, leading to a nationwide police hunt.She was finally found in a health resort, apparently suffering fromamnesia. A full explanation of this episode has never been given;some regarded it as a publicity stunt, others as a genuine attackof amnesia, perhaps brought on by her failing marriage.