Celebrating 100 years of Agatha Christie stories

Celebrating 100 years of Agatha Christie stories

Agatha Christie is the best-selling novelist in history. With over one billion books sold in English and another billion in over 100 languages, her popularity has never waned; last year her English language sales exceeded two million copies, and in the US alone, an estimated 38 million Americans have read an Agatha Christie book.

2020 marks 100 years since Christie’s first novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles, a Hercule Poirot mystery, was first seen in print, serialised in The Times’ (London) weekly edition from February to June 1920. Christie was the first author ever to have her debut novel serialised in The Times, months before readers had the chance to buy it as a book.

After that, she conquered the publishing world for more than 50 years, releasing works that defined the genre including And Then There Were None, the world’s best-selling crime novel.

Christie’s stories have always translated brilliantly to screen and stage, with 48 million people having watched 20th Century Fox’s 2017 movie blockbuster Murder on the Orient Express in cinemas, making $350million at the global box office.

She is also the most successful female playwright of all time: The Mousetrap is the longest running West-End show in history, watched by 10 million people in its continuous London run since 1952, and a quarter of a million people have seen Witness for the Prosecution at London’s County Hall since it opened in 2017. In 2019 there were over 700 productions of Agatha Christie’s plays globally, with performances from an estimated 7000 individuals. Major productions of her works, including a new adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express, are playing to audiences worldwide.

The centenary year will see celebrations across the book world and beyond, culminating in the release of 20th Century Studios’ highly anticipated film adaptation of Death on the Nile directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh as Poirot.

James Prichard, chairman of Agatha Christie Limited and Christie’s great-grandson said: “100 years after her first story was published, the extraordinary global appeal of my great grandmother’s stories shows no sign of abating. Her works continue to entertain audiences through the books, television, film and theatre – testament to their timelessness, and to her unique creativity.”

David Brawn, Publisher of Estates at HarperCollins said: "Agatha Christie was a literary genius. Her stories are always easy to read, thanks to her instinctive sense of what makes people tick and her determination to surprise and delight her readers. And she made it look effortless. You would never guess reading it that The Mysterious Affair at Styles is 100 years old – it could have been written yesterday, and that’s just one reason why readers still love her."

Image (c) Christie Archive Trust