Six destinations every Agatha Christie fan should visit
The crime writer’s life was full of mystery and adventure, her novels even more so. We take a closer look at six destinations that shaped the life and works of the legendary Queen of Crime.
It doesn’t take many ‘little grey cells’ to deduce that Agatha Christie, one of the world’s most eminent crime fiction writers, was a fervent globetrotter. Much of the inspiration for her novels (famously fraught with whodunits led by enduring characters like Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple) came from her own life adventures, including growing up in Devon and her Middle Eastern escapades with her archaeologist husband. A century after the UK publication of her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1921), Christie is still passionately celebrated by wannabe sleuths and crime fiction fans everywhere, from an annual festival in her hometown of Torquay to tours and hotel packages around the world.
1. Torquay, England
This should be the first stop for all true Christie fans. The birthplace of the author in 1890, this Devonian town is home to the annual International Agatha Christie Festival at Torre Abbey, complete with a programme of talks, performances and writing competitions in honour of the best-selling writer. Don’t leave Torquay without completing The Agatha Christie Mile — launched in 1990 to mark the centenary of her birth. The self-guided walk takes you to 11 key spots in Christie’s life, including The Grand Hotel, which has its own Agatha Christie Suite (she spent her honeymoon here); Princess Gardens, frequented by Christie and a key feature in The ABC Murders (1936); and Torquay Museum, home to manuscripts, original photos and costumes worn by the likes of actor David Suchet in the television programme Agatha Christie’s Poirot (1989-2013).
2. Greenway House, England
Christie described Greenway House, her holiday home and personal retreat, as “the loveliest place in the world”. Now a National Trust property, the house offers fans an extraordinary glimpse into the life of the author, who used to bring her family here to relax during holidays or after she’d finished writing a novel. Christie set three of her stories in this area: Five Little Pigs (1942), Dead Man’s Folly (1956) and Ordeal by Innocence (1958). The Devon property is located on a large woodland area just by the River Dart, and houses thousands of items from the family’s personal collections — from books and dolls to homeopathic medicine bottles and family portraits.
It’s no mystery that Christie had a strong affinity with Egypt. The author based two of her novels here: Death Comes as the End (1944), set in the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes (and the only Christie novel not set in the 20th century); and Death on the Nile (1937), the story of a murder that takes place on a luxury cruise on the River Nile. Inspiration for Death on the Nile, among one of her most famous novels, came in 1933, when Christie and her second husband, archaeologist Max Mallowan, sailed aboard the opulent Steam Ship Sudan from Aswan to Luxor. You can channel Christie’s Egyptian odysseys by booking the very same journey, which takes in sights including the Valley of the Kings, the Temple of Edfu and Temple of Karnak. Or by checking into the Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan, believed to be where Christie wrote the thriller.
4. Harrogate, England
When the author mysteriously disappeared from her Berkshire home for 11 days in 1929, it sparked a manhunt that echoed her own tales. Over 1,000 police officers were assigned to find her, and even Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes stories, was involved in the search. She was eventually found at The Old Swan Hotel (then known as Swan Hydro) in Harrogate, with no recollection of how she got there. Today, the hotel offers a fun array of murder mystery events and themed weekends. The historic centre of Harrogate is also a short walk away, and home to verdant gardens, historical sights and Turkish baths.
5. Istanbul, Turkey
Rumour has it that room 411 of Pera Palace Hotel, Istanbul, is where Christie penned one of her most famous novels, Murder on the Orient Express (1934). The grand hotel, situated in the city’s Beyoglu district, was built to house those travelling on the Orient Express from Paris and London to Istanbul. It still offers The Agatha Christie Room, complete with portraits, a library of her books and a replica of her typewriter. In 1979, all eyes were on room 411 when a Hollywood medium claimed that the ghost of the late author told her that under the floorboards was a key to a diary detailing her infamous 11-day disappearance in 1926. Bizarrely, a key was found, but the diary wasn’t. Christie herself travelled on the Orient Express in 1928, which was her first solo trip outside of England.
6. Burgh Island, England
This isolated island, sat just off the coast of south Devon, is a nugget of old-world glamour and the setting for two of Christie’s novels, And Then There Were None (1939) and Evil Under the Sun (1941). It’s reached via a narrow strip of land during low-tide, and, once the water levels rise, can only be accessed aboard a one-of-a-kind hydraulic sea tractor. Must-sees include the art-deco Burgh Island Hotel (where you’ll find Agatha’s Beach House, built as a retreat for the writer), which has bedrooms named for her most famous sleuths: Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple.
For more information, visit agathachristie.com
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