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Many people would be amazed to learn that Agatha Christie - the 'Queen of Crime' - was also one of the world's keenest and most informed women in the field of archaeology in her time, not only carrying out restoration, conservation and labelling, but also acquiring along the way the skill of 'field' archaeological photography.
Agatha Christie's Death on the Nile is probably her most well known 'Egyptian' book, but the same Agatha Christie also wrote a historical murder mystery set in Ancient Egypt - a novel, 'Death Comes As The End', which was highly acclaimed - and an account of her travels on various archaeological digs.
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The young Agatha Christie had been constantly by 'The Illustrated London News' reports of great archaeological discoveries in Egypt. Her first tip to Egypt almost went to waste - being merely a way of passing her first 'Society season' - although, having absorbed even a little of the atmosphere, she was inspired to write a short story set in Egypt, but this only had a hint of 'place', unlike her later work.
But her interest in Egypt and her skill in archaeology didn't take off until she married Max, an archaeologist. Thus began 30 years of travelling in Egypt and the Middle East on archaeological excavations. As 'Agatha Christie Mallowan' she returned to Egypt twice more before war broke out. Like most other visitors to Egypt in the 1930s she stayed in Luxor - where the tomb of Tutankhamun was still being excavated - and travelled up the Nile by steamer. A great sense of place informs all of her writing. She wrote her detective novels on location - in a short story 'Death on the Nile' (which she later developed into one of her most successful books) the actual layout of the Nile steamer SS Karnak was crucial to the plot.
Agatha Christie wrote in other different genres too - Why Didn't They Ask Evans? is a comic mystery, N or M? is an espionage thriller, The Mousetrap is a play - and poetry.
Agatha Christie's inspirational travels to Egypt - combined with her dedication to careful research - make her novels feel very real, whether the story is set in Ancient Egypt or Egypt as the author knew it in the Thirties.
This book promises to be a real treat! All 544 pages of this book are - as you would expect of a master story teller - full of wonderful anecdotes and perfectly chosen details, for an easy, enjoyable read! But in 2008, Agatha Christie’s grandson was clearing her old house, before it opened to the public, and discovered a box of old tape reels — the recordings of Agatha dictating her Autobiography for her typist — an amazingly rare example of Agatha's voice. Listening to highlights from the tapes on the enclosed CD, we hear the reclusive Agatha telling her own story in a lively, spontaneous and often conspiratorial way! What a bonus!
Born at the end of the Victorian era, Agatha Christie grew up happily, in a comfortable household filled with servants, in a rapidly changing society. She writes enagingly of her childhood, the time she spent caring for wounded soldiers and her first, unhappy marriage - followed by her time as a single mother, before becoming a writer and marrying the archaeologist who would make her so happy. Agatha writes of their travels to Egypt, Syria and other Middle Eastern countries.
She also reveals how she created some of her characters and plots, including The Mousetrap. It's interesting to see how events and people in her life enriched her novels, although certain racist attitudes (commonly 'acceptable' in her youth) were sadly still apparent when she wrote this book. She does not discuss her famous 11-day "disappearance" in 1926.
This edition includes and introductio by Mathew Prichard, the grandson who discovered the tapes.
A historical murder mystery by Agatha Christie - that's quite a surprise!
It is Egypt, 2000 BC. The broken, twisted body of Nofret, concubine to a Ka-priest is found at the foot of a cliff. Young, beautiful and venomous - people are saying that Nofret deserved to die like a snake. But was this death was just 'fate'? Renisenb fears a source of evil must lurk within household of her own father, the priest.
Death Comes as the End is based on a series of letters discovered in a tomb at Thebes in 1921 - letters written by an ancient Egyptian priest to his family. Agatha Christie's imagined web of intrigue brought the ancient characters vividly to life, and produced a book - full of anger, jealousy, betrayal and murder - that both appealed to her usual public and won the praise of Egyptologists.
also see our audiobook page
Life as part of a team of excavators in a harsh physical environment and an unfamiliar social environment could easily become a daily struggle. When Agatha Christie's friends asked what her unusual life was like, she replied by writing this memoir of her travels to Syria and Iraq in the 1930s. Her narrative is frank, and at times hilarious, conveying the sense of fun of the Arab people with whom they shared their daily lives. She doesn't lecture - just gives enough archeological information to transport us to the middle east and see for ourselves how archaeologists worked on a pre-war archeological excavation.
Introduction by Jacquetta Hawkes.
The archaeologist Mallowan was always accompanied by his wife Agatha Christie, whose work on her current book was frequently interrupted by the demands of her role as site photographer, registrar of finds and repairer of pottery, as well as medical adviser and cook. She was fascinated by his work, and the marriage was a happy one. Perhaps Mallowan - a master of the false trail and the misleading clue - inspired Agatha to create the character Hercule Poirot . . .
Henrietta McCall is an Egyptologist. She also contributed to the exhibition catalogue for the British Museum exhibition: "Agatha Christie in the Orient" (see box).
As well as many archaeological exhibits, the exhibition reconstructed an Orient-Express restaurant car, a first class sleeper compartment (complete with Louis Vuitton luggage and an original suitcase belonging to Agatha Christie), the film stage for a scene from the 1974 film 'Murder on the Orient Express' (with Albert Finney as Poirot), a 1930's British archaeological team's work room.
Other exhibits included a copy of the golden dagger and lapis lazuli found in Ur which she featured in 'Murder in Mesopotamia', and the costumes and preparatory watercolors for the first Ustinov film of Death on the Nile.
There was also a montage of the two films shot by Agatha Christie on excavation sites and color photographs and black and white photographs taken by the writer on the excavations.
The "Agatha Christie's Poirot" TV series, starring David Suchet, featured one epsiode set in Egypt - "The Adventure Of The Egyptian Tomb" (the first epsiode in Season 5).
The entire BBC TV series is now available as "The Complete Collection" (24 Disc Box Set) - or the Egyptian Tomb episode is available separately, or as part of the Season 5 set:
The Adventure Of The Egyptian Tomb
Death on the Nile is now a classic - with many interpretations, from feature film to e-book! There is even an 'Agatha Christie Murder Mystery Puzzle - Death On The Nile'
Below, we describe audio, film, TV, radio, graphic novel and ebook formats!
Why is Jacqueline apparently stalking Simon and Linnet on their honeymoon? Can a river cruise aboard the 'Karnak' Nile steamer solve their problems? The odd little Belgian man, Hercule Poirot, brings an unexpectedly clear perspective to the troubled scene, explaining:
"In the course of an excavation, when something comes up out of the ground, everything is cleared away very carefully all around it . . . That is what I have been seeking to do - clear away the extraneous matter so that we can see the truth - the naked shining truth."
'Death On The Nile' was first published in 1937 by William Collins Sons & Co. in London, and in 1938 by Dodd, Mead & Co. in New York. It was serialised in the USA Saturday Evening Post (illustrated by Henry Raleigh) during 1937 and has taken many disguises since - as a stage play (under two pseudonyms), an interactive game, a murder party game, a graphic novel and as films and TV / radio programmes. Agatha Christie adapted 'Death On The Nile' for the stage in 1946 as 'Murder On The Nile'. It was also performed under the title 'Hidden Horizon'.
Murder on the Nile was also adapted into a play in three acts, and published by French (French's Acting Edition).
Also see other stage plays by Agatha Christie
The 1978 feature film version of 'Agatha Christie's Death On The Nile' starred Peter Ustinov (the first of six appearances as Poirot) with a star studded cast including Bette Davis and David Niven. The film's footage of Luxor, Aswan and Abu Simbel is spectacular!
The same PETER USTINOV film is available as a box set - together with 3 other vintage Poirot stories:
The DVD also includes two 'mini-features': The Making of 'Death on the Nile' and 'The Making of 'Evil Under The Sun'
Released at the start of 2008, this is billed as 'a deluxe version' of Agatha Christie's favourite mystery story.
Turn a party into a murder mystery! Includes music CD and DVD of clues