100th Anniversary of Agatha Christie's Poirot
It is 100 years since Agatha Christie published her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles - the work that first introduced beloved Belgian detective Hercule Poirot to readers.
In recognition of this anniversary, Honorary Fellow Tony Hope has published a post on The Oldie magazine's blog and, along with his wife Sally, is currently reviewing every one of Christie's crime novels.
Agatha Christie had several connections with New College, which Tony outlines below:
"Christie’s second husband, the distinguished archaeologist, Sir Max Mallowan, studied ‘Greats’ at New College from 1921-1925. Mallowan described his time at New College as ‘paradise’. In his Memoirs he writes that the ‘youngest and most amusing of my tutors was Stanley Casson … he was ready to try his hand at any subject including the detective story.’ Casson recommended Mallowan to archaeologist Leonard Woolley which led to Mallowan joining Woolley as assistant in the excavations at Ur. Christie visited Ur as a guest of the Woolleys in 1930 and that is when she met Mallowan. They married later that year and remained married until Christie’s death in 1976.
Agatha Christie’s beloved nephew James (‘Jack’) Watts, son of Christie’s older sister, Madge, was an undergraduate at New College in the early 1920s. Indeed he and Max Mallowan knew each other although Jack did not like Max becoming his uncle. Jack became Conservative MP for Moss Side, Manchester, in 1959, though sadly died two years later at the age of 57 years.
Sir William Hayter, Warden of New College 1958-1976 (and Warden when I was an undergraduate) and his wife, Iris, knew Agatha Christie and visited her at her house, Winterbrook, which is between Cholsey and Wallingford, and not far from Oxford. The Hayters described Christie as very quiet but observing and told me once that Christie had based characters on the two of them in one of her novels. They refused to say in which."
- Tony Hope, Honorary Fellow of New College