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5 Surprising Facts About Agatha Christie

You've definitely heard of Agatha Christie before. She's a noted mystery writer and one of the best-selling authors of all time. Novels like Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile have been turned into star-studded films, and there are more than 2 billion copies of Agatha Christie's work currently in print.

surprising facts about Agatha Christie

But who was the mind behind these famous mysteries? Read for 5 fascinating facts about Agatha Christie—some of which will surprise you, much like a good twist in one of her novels!

1. Agatha Christie didn't receive a formal education until she was 15

Agatha Christie had a bit of an unconventional upbringing. She was homeschooled for most of her childhood and her mother insisted Agatha not learn to read until she was eight years old. Fortunately, Agatha Christie was a bright (and bored) child and taught herself to read before she was five.

Apparently, Agatha's mother also didn't wish for her daughter to pursue a formal education. Agatha Christie was schooled at home up until the age of 15 which was when her parents finally decided to send her off to a Paris finishing school.

Agatha Christie apothecary

2. Agatha Christie once worked as an apothecary

An apothecary was someone who prepared and sold medicine and drugs, and Agatha Christie worked as one in a hospital dispensary when she was a young woman. To do so, she had to pass the examination of the Society of Apothecaries first (which she aced, obviously).

The job experience gave her a wealth of knowledge when it came to drugs and their various uses. It also explains why she frequently used poison, in a literary sense, in her novels!

mysterious affair at styles book

3. Agatha Christie's first book was written on a dare

Agatha Christie spent her childhood reading and writing stories, but she wrote her first full-length novel on a dare. Christie's sister, Madge, dared her to complete an entire novel and she took her up on the challenge.

It was in this novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, that Hercule Poirot made his debut. The famously eccentric detective would go on to make an appearance in 42 more of Agatha Christie's books.

murder on the orient express book

4. Agatha Christie met her second husband on the Orient Express

It's possibly the most recognized setting of any of her mystery novels: the Orient Express. Agatha Christie harbored a life-long desire to travel on the Orient Express, and met her second husband while on the journey.

After marrying, she accompanied her archeologist husband on many expeditions to Syria and Iraq. Their preferred mode of travel? You guessed it, the Orient Express! Which might explain Christie's inspiration to use it as a setting for her famous novel.

5. Agatha Christie had some real-life mysteries too

Agatha Christie didn't just put mysteries into her books, she lived a few real-life ones too! The event that has perhaps fascinated fans the most is when Christie went missing from her home one winter night in 1926. It could have been the opening chapter to any one of her novels: the novelist went missing shortly after her husband confessed to having an affair and wanting to divorce.

After a nationwide search, Christie was finally located at a hotel where she was staying under an assumed name. There are multiple theories around what happened—these range from publicity stunt to an amnesiac event. Unfortunately, we'll never know the true story because Agatha Christie refused to speak publicly about the incident.

Looking for more surprising and mysterious facts? Check out our blog posts for weird facts about Mary Shelley, and books and series recs inspired by another great literary detective: Sherlock Holmes.

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