Born Agatha Mary Clarissa Mallowan in Torquay, Devon, England, mystery writer and playwright Dame Agatha Christie (1891-1976) was tutored at home by her mother until age 16, then studied music in Paris.
"Writing is a great consolation to anyone who can't express themselves well any other way," she said.
While working as a World War I nurse, she created Inspector Hercule Poirot in her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, (1920) breathing life into one of the most beloved characters of the 20th century. This eccentric Belgian detective with the long moustache appeared in almost half of her novels. "Mon cher," said Poirot in Death in the Clouds (1935) "practically speaking, I know everything!"
In addition to lively, unforgettable characters, clues and crime solving, and clever endings, a major theme of Christie's books was conciliation and acceptance, especially within a family. Truth, however bitter, can be accepted, and woven into a design for living," she observed.
In 1934's Murder on the Orient Express, Christie wrote one of her best, most unpredictable and popular page-turner with Poirot solving his toughest case.
"I regard my work as of no importance," she said with typical modesty. "I simply set out to entertain."
In 1971, she was honored as Dame of the British Empire, celebrating a 50-year career of over 100 short stories, 17 plays, and 70 novels, published in 104 languages throughout the world.
"Every murderer," she wrote in The Mysterious Affair at Styles," is probably somebody's old friend."
Being alive is a grand thing.