LIFE, LITERATURE, LEGACY.

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Published on September 01, 2015 with No Comments

Remembering Agatha Christie 125 years on.

Words SURIANI ARIFF
Images IACF MEDIA RESOURCES

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The doyenne of crime fiction, Agatha Christie, is known worldwide as one of British’s most loved mystery writers. Her legacy is remarkable. Her books are thought to have been sold an estimated two billion copies worldwide; translated into 103 languages, making her the most translated author to date; and her works remain just as popular today 36 years after her demise.

The master mystery story-teller lived in Torquay, “The English Riviera”, in Devon, south-west England, which is now synonymous with Christie and a must-visit for her fans. This year marks the 125th anniversary of her birth, and Torquay is rolling out the red carpet for a nine-day international festival, from September 11 – 20, to celebrate the Queen of Crime’s life, literature and legacy.

More than 100 events will be on the festival menu with each day taking a special theme, starting on Saturday 12 September with a Family Day of children’s author-led workshops, trails, stories and an outdoor show on the lawns where a young Agatha herself performed. The week then continues with focuses on the First World War years; Miss Marple; the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, International Agatha, Agatha & Theatre and Agatha For Everyone.

At the heart of the programme will be a birthday party on September 15 at the festival’s main venue, Torre Abbey, while other highlights and locations will include an exhibition of previously unpublished photos from the Christie family’s private archives; a cooking session with French cookery writer Anne Martinetti, author of a series of recipe books linked to writers/film-makers, who will prepare food from Christie stories in the kitchen at Agatha’s long-time Devon home: Greenway on the river Dart, near Brixham; and an introduction to poisons by A Is For Arsenic author Dr Kathryn Harkup together with a guided tour of the potent plants garden at Torre Abbey. Few may know that Christie is a qualified pharmacy dispenser, using her inside knowledge of poisons in her books to detail with great accuracy not just the amount of poison required to administer a fatal dose, but the symptoms as well.

In describing this year’s programme, Dr Anna Farthing, director of the 2015 festival, said, “As well as being the world’s best-selling author, its most translated novelist and the UK’s most successful woman playwright, Dame Agatha Christie was a fascinating character, whose work was shaped by her life and times and whose enduring impact reaches much further than her writings. In programming this 125th anniversary festival, my aim has been to fully reflect this breadth and depth by supplementing favourite and familiar stories with new viewpoints and fresh insights – some of them never made public before – in ways that will appeal as much to younger people and newcomers as they will to lifelong fans.”

 

FEW MAY KNOW THAT CHRISTIE IS A QUALIFIED PHARMACY DISPENSER.

 

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AGATHA CHRISTIE REMAINS THE MOST WIDELY PUBLISHED AUTHOR OF ALL TIME.

 

The festival’s board is chaired by the author’s grandson Mathew Prichard, who also chairs Agatha Christie Ltd, which manages the worldwide literary and media rights to the author’s works. He says, “I am delighted that the 125th anniversary of my grandmother’s birth in Torquay is being celebrated with such a lively and wide-ranging programme. I am also pleased that we have been able to release so much new material from the family’s collections so enabling visitors to see photographs which have never been on public view before, learn more about Archie Christie, the grandfather I never met, and to hear recordings of my grandmother’s voice when we mark the 80th anniversary of the RNIB’s Talking Books for the Blind service.”

He added, “I feel sure that my grandmother would have welcomed the diversity of the programme and how it will reach so many different audiences, particularly through the workshop programme for emerging writers and the many new opportunities for children, older people, film-makers and local students to get involved.”

The International Agatha Christie Festival (IACF) was created in 2014 to honour Christie who remains the most widely published author of all time and, in Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, the creator of two of literature’s best known characters.

The elegant seaside town of Torquay was where the author was born on 15 September, 1890. Christie grew up and first started to write here. Today, visitors can explore the many places which inspired settings for her stories, among them Greenway, the memorabilia-filled holiday home where she spent nearly every summer from 1938 until her death in 1976.

 

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Agatha Christie’s MISS MARPLE and HERCULE POIROT books can be found in bookstores.
MPH members get 10% discount. Alternatively, enjoy free delivery* when you purchase at: www.mphonline.com
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