the best selling author in the world

Lindsay Duguid in TLS:

Christie_2 Between 1920, when she was thirty, and her death in 1976, Agatha Christie published seventy-one full-length murder mysteries. She also brought out five collections of stories, two volumes of poetry, a number of successful West End plays and a couple of autobiographies; five non-crime novels by her appeared under the name of Mary Westmacott. In some years there were several publications; between 1939 and 1946 there were nineteen. By 1950, she had sold a total of 50 million books and she is still the bestselling author in the world. It seems reasonable to wonder where it all came from.

Laura Thompson has been given full access to the unpublished letters, papers and notebooks kept at Greenway, the house in Devon that Christie purchased in 1938 and later turned into a family trust to avoid tax. There Thompson discovered a lifetime’s worth of old exercise books, scraps of paper, receipts, banker’s orders, souvenir menus and family albums. She also discovered that Christie, who never dated a letter, falsified the details of her life in her memoirs and lied about her age on her marriage certificate. But in any case Thompson’s biographical method is not organization but evocation; rather than order the material into a chronological narrative, she wants us to know what her Agatha feels and offers novelistic insights into her state of mind. “Her life, on the surface, was as grey and dreary as a prison exercise yard, her mind a prey to a daily succession of torments” is how she describes Christie’s reaction to her divorce from her husband Archie sometime in 1927, an important event in Christie’s life, the facts of which remain uncertain.

More here.