"Years end is neither an end nor a beginning, but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us."
(Hal Borland quotes) This quote has nothing to do with what I'm going to write about today, but I thought it was rather appropriate as we near the end of another year.
Today, I am going to go away from the holiday season for a moment and write about a famous author that comes from Devon, my home county. The author's name is Agatha Christie, (otherwise known as the queen of crime) and I'm sure you have all heard of her two most famous creations, i.e. Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot.
She was actually born in Torquay (otherwise known as the English Riviera), which is some 27 miles away from where I live.
Although Agatha had amused herself as a child, acting out stories and make believe, it wasn't until one of her sisters challenged her to write a novel, that her writing career really began. During the war, she became a voluntary nurse at The Red Cross Hospital in Torquay, and ended up working in the Dispensary, which she very much enjoyed, and she completed the Examination of the Society of Apothacaries. It was here that she acquired her knowledge of poisons which, of course, became such an important feature of her various books.
When her first book was published (The Mysterious Affair at Styles) , the murder by poison was so well described that Agatha received the unprecedented honour of a review in the Pharmaceutical Journal.
Agatha's happiness was complete when her only daughter (Rosalind) was born in 1919, but by the year 1926, her life was in tatters. Her beloved mother had died and her husband left her for another woman.
In fact, that same year, Agatha Christie created her very own real-life mystery, when she disappeared for eleven days. The time was 9.45 p.m. on the evening of the 3rd December, when, without warning, she simply disappeared after going upstairs to kiss her sleeping daughter.
She was very famous by then, and throughout her disappearance, the whole country buzzed with theories about what might have happened to her. Such was the speculation, that the Home Secretary at the time put pressure on the Police to make faster progress. They even called on the services of two famous crime writers, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creater of Sherlock Holmes and Dorothy L. Sayers, author of the Lord Peter Wimsey series.
Agatha was eventually found safe and well, but in very strange circumstances. Alone, and using an assumed name, she had been living at a spa hotel in Harrogate since the day after her disappearance, even though news of her case had reached as far as the front page of The New York Times.
There was a happy ending to her story, in that in 1928, she met and married Sir Max Mallowen, a renowed Archeologist. With billions of her books being sold and translated into many languages, Agatha Christie became the best selling English novelist of all time.
Her home, "Greenaways" situated overlooking the picturesque River Dart here in Devon, is now owned by The National Trust and is visited by many thousands of people each year.