Agatha Christie First Editions
Agatha Christie first editions are well established as collectables, with the earliest first editions in dust-jackets being notorious for their scarcity. Agatha Christie wrote sixty-six crime novels during her long and splendid career, but she also wrote thirteen plays and, under the nom-de-plume 'Mary Westmacott', six novels of a more romantic tone, all of which are sought after by collectors.
Inevitably however it is her crime novels that are the most well-known, collected, and valuable today. She commenced work on her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, in 1916, introducing the world to the retired Belgian policeman Hercule Poirot, and his companion Captain Hastings. The Mysterious Affair at Styles was first published in New York in 1920, with the Bodley Head's UK edition appearing the year after. Like all Agatha Christie first editions from the 1920s, this title is hard to find in good condition, and virtually impossible to locate in the dust-jacket, largely due to the fact that these were only beginning to come into their own as promotional aids around this time.
From this point onwards the Queen of Crime's output was stunning in volume, with Agatha Christie first editions appearing at least once a year, sometimes with two titles published in one year. The author's own strange disappearance for eleven days in December 1926 and her attendant 'fugue state' excited much public interest, but did not it seems to stymy her creativity.
Four years after her disappearance her most beloved character Miss Marple made her modest and unassuming debut in The Murder at the Vicarage, published by Collins' Crime Club in 1930, and would go on to feature in seventeen more books.
In the same year that Jane Marple first appeared, Agatha Christie married archaeologist Max Mallowan, whose work would inspire at least two of her books, Murder in Mesopotamia (1932), derived from her visit to the Royal Cemetery at Ur where they met, and Death Comes as the End (1945), set in ancient Thebes, her only dalliance with historic fiction.
The Queen of Crime continued to produce new novels for Collins up until 1973. In 1974 a collection of stories (Hercule Poirot's Early Cases) was published instead of the annual Agatha Christie first edition, and in 1975 and 1976 Collins published two books that Christie had written during the Blitz and kept in reserve (Curtain & Sleeping Murder).
Agatha Christie died peacefully on 12 January 1976, aged 85, at her home Winterbrook House, Wallingford in Oxfordshire, England.