2. What are some famous mystery television shows or movies?
3. Look at the picture of Agatha Christie. What can you say about her?
Now read about Agatha Christie, a woman who gave her readers an inside look into typical country English life by writing about the things she was most familiar with. Then answer the questions given under the texts.
The Public Persona
Everyone who has studied or written about Agatha Christie agrees on one point. She is very famous - the most famous woman writer ever. During her 85 years of life, she authored 78 crime novels, 150 short stories, 6 conventional (not crime) novels, 4 non-fiction books, and 19 plays. By one count, more than 2 billion copies of her books and plays had been sold in 104 languages - outselling even William Shakespeare! More than 7.5 million people have seen her most famous play, The Mousetrap, since it first opened in 1952.
But, despite all of this fame, Agatha Christie was a complex woman, whom few people fully understand. The public's knowledge of Christie is limited, because she carefully avoided public appearances, said little in public, and never gave public speeches.
In her autobiography, Christie wrote how slow-witted she was as a child, and chronically incapable of expressing her feelings. In frustration, Christie once decided to turn to music, since she was sufficiently talented as a pianist to consider becoming a professional. But, alas, even with small audiences, Christie would freeze up when playing the piano. She wrote, "Inarticulate I shall always be. It is probably one of the causes that have made me a writer."
As she grew older, and became more and more famous, Christie seemed to become even more private, silent and inadequate in public. Here's an example. In 1962, at the age of 72, Christie was invited as the guest of honor to an exclusive party at the Savoy Hotel in London. The party was made to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the running of her popular play, The Mousetrap. However, the doorman refused to let Christie in, not knowing who she was. Christie did not protest or brush the doorman aside. Instead, she turned meekly away, saddened and confused, later to write how the party ended up as a pitiful failure.
Some writers have suggested that Christie may have suffered throughout her life from a chronic form of agoraphobia. This is a mental disorder creating an intense fear of public places.
I) In what different, objective ways can we measure Christie's popularity?
2) Which famous English writer has sold more copies of his writings than Agatha Christie? Is it a fair measure to compare the number of copies sold by these two great English writers? Why or why not?
3) Why is the public's knowledge of Christie so limited?
4) In what different ways did Christie avoid public exposure?
5) What about Christie's personality is as legendary as her books?
6) What made Christie decide to become a writer?
7) What was Christie chronically incapable of expressing in public?
8) As Christie got older, did she overcome her problem with shyness? What happened to her?
9) Describe why the incident at the Savoy Hotel, when Christie was 72 years old, is a good example of her shyness?
10) What psychological or mental disorder do some writers believe Christie suffered from? How does it affect people who suffer from it?