Dedications in Her Works
Agatha dedicated her published works to many family members, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. I list her dedications in chronological order, but by no means is this list to be complete (but is accurate!). When possible, a note of who the person the book is dedicated to is made. The idea of this article is for anyone to better understand the influences in Agatha's life and to learn more of her family, friends and associates. I've been thinking to include here on HPC a mini-"Who's Who" of Agatha's influence--that will come later.
Choose a Decade1920's 1930's 1940's 1950's 1960's 1970's
This article has been in the works since 2001, by my own hand and reading; it has been difficult. I know of most of these people she dedicated her books to. The problem was finding the dedications themselves, since not every publisher included the dedication. Anyway, I made a major list of every dedication I had while I read my Agatha Christie library, and I went to city and university libraries and used book stores before having stumbled upon many of them in any reference book. That was before the publication of Everyman's Guide to the Mysteries of Agatha Christie, by Bruce Pendergast (published 2004 by Trafford Publishing). His first chapter in his book is actually on Agatha's dedications (great beginning!), and is thoroughly researched and a great read (although there are omissions which he doesn't explain). I don't think my list hardly compares with his terrific work there. The information in Everyman's Guide and that of The Agatha Christie Companion, written by Dennis Sanders and Len Lovallo (Delacorte Press, 1984) coincide and are the two best sources for Agatha's dedications. The book by Sanders and Lovallo doesn't have a section just on dedications--that information is intermingled with the rest of the book. That, too, is a fantastic source on her works placed side-by-side with her life events.
The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920)
Dedicated: "To my mother." Christie's mother was Clarissa Margaret Boehmer, also named "Clara." She and her daughter Agatha were very close; their relationship was that of trust and unconditional love. They grew closer when Agatha's father Frederick died in 1901. Clara read aloud to Agatha the works of Sir Walter Scott and Charles Dickens (Agatha said once that her favorite author was Dickens, for whom she had a passion). Clara installed into young Agatha a desire to try her hand at writing. As retold in Christie's An Autobiography, she was overcoming the flu in the winter of 1910, and her mother suggested she write a story. She did, titled The House of Beauty and wrote many more stories and poems. Christie's Clara suggested to her that she send a few of her writings to the novelist Eden Phillpotts to look over. This was very important, as Mr. Phillpotts gave the best advice to a young writer. Mrs. Miller continued encouraging Christie and her writing when Christie began writing her first detective novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles, which she commenced in 1916. Clara Miller passed away in 1926 in Agatha's childhood home of Ashfield. This was a devastating blow to Agatha, but not the last blow of 1926. That same year Agatha's husband Archie asked for a speedy divorce--he had fallen in love with another woman.
The Secret Adversary (1922)
Dedicated: "To all those who lead monotonous lives, in the hope that they may experience at second hand the delights and dangers of adventure."
The Murder on the Links (1923)
Dedicated: "To my husband, a fellow enthusiast for detective stories, and to whom I am indebted for much helpful advice and criticism." Agatha and Archie Christie during this period were great enthusiasts of golf, which was done on the weekends at East Croydon. Agatha declared herself not much a golfer, whereas her husband Archie "became keenly appreciative of the game." The body of the victim in this story was discovered face down in a golf course near his home. To read more on Archie Christie, the dashing officer in the Royal Flying Corps and first husband of Agatha's, please click here.
The Man in the Brown Suit (1924)
Dedicated: "To E. A. B.--in memory of a journey, some lion stories, and a request that I should some day write the 'Mystery of the Mill House'!" The initials stood for Major Ernest Belcher, an ex-schoolmaster of Archie Christie's who kept in contact with him through the years. Agatha described him as "a man with terrific powers of bluff . . . how much of Belcher's stories was invented and how much was true, we never knew." Through his constant bluffing and baloney he obtained some cushy jobs. Major Belcher landed an easy job as director of the British Empire Mission. Its job was to promote goodwill to major countries around the world, visit the dignitaries, and get a commitment of participation from these nations for the British Empire Exhibition of 1924. Belcher needed a "business manager" and asked Archie to fill the position. Archie was earning 500 pounds a year but was offered 1,000 pounds to abandon his shady business job. The Christies went on the ten-month tour that would take them to all hemispheres: South Africa, Australia, Canada, and other places. Said Agatha about the trip: "[it was] one of the most exciting things that ever happened to me." They were able to see and do so much. However, other than Agatha getting seasick, the most difficult thing on the trip was Belcher himself. He always got infuriated if things didn't go his way and became downright explosive. Agatha said that "travelling with Belcher might not be as pleasant as it had seemed in prospect at our dinner table." Agatha and Archie vowed to never speak to him again once the trip was over. Belcher insisted Agatha use him as a character in her next project, which she did. It was this novel, in which he portrayed Pedler. She said about this: "[Pedler] used several of Belcher's phrases and told some of Belcher's stories. He too was a master of the art of bluff . . . [but] I don't think I succeeded. Belcher didn't come to life, but someone called Sir Eustace Pedler did." The only other "real" person that Agatha inserted into a story (and dedicated the book to) was Katharine Woolley, modeled as Mrs. Leidner in Murder in Mesopotamia (see below). Incidentally, "Mill House" was the actual home of Belcher's in the village of Dorney, two and a half miles west of Eton.
The Secret of Chimneys (1925)
This book actually has two different dedications, from two different publishers! In the Bantam edition (which I own), the dedication is to "Punkie" which is Madge, Christie's older sister. However, in other editions the dedication reads: "To my nephew in memory of an inscription at Compton Castle and a day at the zoo." (Pendergast says in his book that the Omniprose edition--a Canadian publisher--has this dedication. In the Sanders and Lovallo book, they also list this dedication, but neglect to mention any edition.) The nephew in question is James Watts, Jr. (nicknamed "Jack"), the son of Madge and James Watts. Jack wasn't much younger than Christie was herself, for her sister Madge was married at a very early age. For more on Jack, look under the entry for the dedication of After the Funeral. The Christie and opera expert Charles Osborne stated (in his book The Life and Crimes of Agatha Christie) that the "Punkie" dedication was incorrect for this book, but was intended for The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (please see next entry below). Compton Castle is a fortified manor house about five miles west of Torquay, Christie's hometown. The significance of the inscription found at Compton is unknown.
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926)
Dedicated: "To Punkie, who likes an orthodox detective story, murder, inquest, and suspicion falling on every one in turn!" Although dedicated to her sister Madge ("Punkie" was a nickname), it was not her who suggested to Christie the ultimate deception for this novel. The idea of the story came from two independent sources, both acknowledged by Agatha in her An Autobiography. Louis Mountbatten, first Earl of Mountbatten of Burma, the British naval commander, last Viceroy of India, and uncle of Prince Philip Mountbatten (married to Queen Elizabeth)--whew!!!--suggested to Agatha the unusual choice for murderer. The second contributor for this grand idea came from James Watts, husband of Madge's. His complaint, which led to his suggesting the idea, was that "almost everybody turns out to be a criminal nowadays in detective stories." It was appropriate for Agatha to dedicate this book to her sister Madge, since it was she who challenged her sister Agatha to write a detective novel. Growing up in their home Ashfield, the sisters did a lot of reading and were fans of the detective genre especially. Around 1908, they had just finished reading Gaston Le Roux's The Mystery of the Yellow Room when Agatha announced that she could write a detective novel. Her sister Madge then challenged her to write a novel that the reader can't guess the villain's identity. Agatha started planning early; she had the setting (a family and manor), the murder weapon (poison--Agatha was familiar working with them at the hospital), and had the detective and a "Watson" (the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot and his friend Captain Hastings). The book, although finished in 1916, became published in 1920 as The Mysterious Affair at Styles.
The Mystery of the Blue Train (1928)
Dedicated: "To Two Distinguished Members of the O. F. D., Carlotta and Peter." Christie explains in An Autobiography that the initials stood for "Order of the Faithful Dogs." Agatha and Carlotta Fisher (her secretary) came up with the order for faithful friends and for those who did not stay by her side, they created the Order of the Faithless Rats. It was at this time that Agatha's first marriage to Archie Christie was dissolved. She said that the divorce was an acid test of who her true friends were, and who were the "rats" that would abandon her. Peter was the Christies' wirehaired terrier they acquired after returning from their world tour with Major Belcher. Carlotta Fisher (or nicknamed "Carlo") was hired by Agatha around the time she wrote The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Carlo served both as secretary and governess to Rosalind, Agatha's daughter of (then) seven. Carlo handled correspondence, took dictation, and typed the manuscripts. Miss Fisher was present at Agatha's wedding to her second husband, the archaeologist Max Mallowan, in 1930. Carlo left Agatha's employ during World War II to work in a factory, all for the war effort.
Giant's Bread (1930)
Dedicated: "To the memory of my best and truest friend, my mother." This was Agatha Christie's first romance novel written under the name of Mary Westmacott. At this time, no one knew Westmacott was Christie (and was not to know until 1949). Christie's mother was Clara Boehmer Miller, mother to her oldest sister Madge and older brother Monty. This book was dedicated to Mrs. Miller four years after she had passed away in Ashfield, the Miller family home.
The Mysterious Mr. Quin (1930)
Dedicated: "To Harlequin The Invisible." This is an exceptional dedication. This is the only time Christie dedicated a book to a fictional character. Harlequin is a character from the Italian Commedia dell'Arte. This improvisational play usually centered on young lovers wanting to be married but find opposition from the elders around them. They then seek help from servants to find a way to be together; one of these servants is the character of Arlecchino, or Harlequin. The Harlequin always fascinated Christie since her childhood when her Auntie-Grannie (Margaret West Miller, who was Christie's step-grandmother) owned porcelain figurines of the Commedia dell'Arte. The characters of the Commedia dell'Arte (or known outside of Italy as "Italian Comedy") intrigued her so much that they feature prominently in her early poetry. Her poetry is, of course, a precursor to her hero Mr. Harley Quin of this novel. Christie once said her favorite character of those that she created was Harley Quin.
The Murder at the Vicarage (1930)
Dedicated: "To Rosalind." Rosalind Christie Prichard Hicks was Agatha and Archie's only child, born in 1919. Christie said that Rosalind "has had the valuable role in life of eternally trying to discourage me without success." Rosalind was known as one of her mother's severest critics; she once told Agatha (regarding adapting The Hollow for the stage: "It's a good book, and I like it, but you can't make it into a play." Early during World War II, Rosalind married an army major by the name of Hubert Prichard, but was killed in action in France. They had one son, Mathew, born in 1943. She later married Anthony Hicks in 1949. Rosalind Hicks revised and edited her mother's An Autobiography and had it published in 1977, a year after Agatha had died.
The Sittaford Mystery (1931)
Dedicated: "To M. E. M. with whom I discussed the plot of this book, to the alarm of those around us." M. E. M. was Max Edgar Lucien Mallowan, Christie's second husband. This book had significance to both Agatha and Max, for this was the first published book of Christie's since her marriage to Max (in September 1930). She had met Max Mallowan in March 1930 when she visited Ur for the second time, at the invitation of Dr. Leonard Woolley, an archaeologist excavating Ur on behalf of the British Museum and the University of Pennsylania. Max was there as a young archaeologist working under Woolley. To read more on Max Mallowan, please click here.
Peril at End House (1932)
Dedicated: "To Eden Phillpotts. To whom I shall always be grateful for his friendship and the encouragement he gave me many years ago." Mr. Phillpotts (1862-1960) was a novelist and poet and the first professional to read Christie's (unpublished) work, written as early as 1910. Christie's mother suggested to Agatha that she send some of her writings to Mr. Phillpotts. He wrote her a letter, which in part said: "You have a great feeling for dialogue . . . You should stick to gay, natural dialogue. Try and cut all moralizations out of your novels; you are much too fond of them and nothing is more boring to read. Try and leave your characters alone, so that they can speak for themselves, instead of always rushing in to tell them what they ought to say, or to explain to the reader what they mean by what they are saying. That is for the reader to judge for himself." Huge advice which Christie embraced. That there was the key of writing detective fiction. That allowed the reader of Christie's stories to form his/her own conclusions on what the various characters said.
The Thirteen Problems (1932)
Dedicated: "To Leonard and Katharine Woolley." This couple met Christie in 1928 when she visited the ruins of the biblical city of Ur. They became instant friends and Christie invited them to stay with her in London in her new cottage the next time they came home. They did, and while they were staying in England, they encouraged her to come visit Ur again. She did return in March 1930, and the Woolleys introduced Christie to a young (26-year-old) archaeologist and assistant named Max Edgar Lucien Mallowan. At this second visit, Katharine requested (or "ordered") young Max to take Christie on a sight-seeing trip. Agatha and Max got to know each other well and enjoyed being in each other's company; they of course married in September of 1930.
Lord Edgware Dies (1933)
Dedicated: "To Dr. and Mrs. Campbell Thompson." Max Mallowan described archaeologist and Oriental scholar Reginald Campbell Thompson as a "bluff, hearty, free-and-easy-going" man. The novel was written while Agatha accompanied Max to Nineveh (northern Iraq) on a dig there after work with Dr. Woolley terminated. Max described Barbara, Campbell Thompson's wife, as a "delightful, kindly and altogether unselfish character." Agatha needed a sturdy table in which to write Lord Edgware Dies, and crates and boxes simply would not do. She found a decent table at a bazaar one day but Campbell Thompson thought it too expensive (Agatha says it was ten pounds, Max says three)--he said it was beyond the means of the expedition's budget. The table had to be solid, not one that would rock when touched. Christie relates the story: "I had one battle with C. T. [this is what everyone called him] He gave in to me with courtesy, but I think I went down in his estimation . . . it took him quite a fortnight to forgive me for this luxurious extravagance." While at Nineveh, Christie read the manuscript of the novel aloud to Campbell Thompson and his wife Barbara. That was an honor--she only shared her manuscripts with members of her family before that.
Murder on the Orient Express (1934)
Dedicated: "To M. E. L. M. Arpachiyah, 1933." This dedication is to none other than Christie's second husband, Max Edgar Lucien Mallowan (this was his second book dedication, a rare Christie honor). "Lucien" was omitted in his first dedication for The Sittaford Mystery, but only probably a minor error. In 1933, the Mallowans (Agatha only went by last name "Christie" for the reading public of her stories, but always referred herself privately with "Mallowan") celebrated their third wedding anniversary. Arpachiyah was one of Max's archaeological sites--his first independent one--that produced a vast amount of ivories and pottery dated to the fourth millennium B. C. In his memoirs, simply titled Mallowan's Memoirs, he said Arpachiyah "[stood] out as the happiest and most rewarding: it opened a new and enthralling chapter and will forever stand as a milestone on the long road of prehistory."
Why Didn't They Ask Evans? (1934)
Dedicated: "To Christopher Mallock in memory of Hinds."
Three Act Tragedy (1935)
Dedicated to Geoffrey and Violet Shipston.
Death in the Clouds (1935)
Dedicated: "To my old friend Sybil Healey, with affection."
The A.B.C. Murders (1936)
Dedicated: "To James Watts, one of my most sympathetic readers." James Watts was husband to Christie's only sister Madge. He seems to be an important critic of and influence to Agatha, since she's used at least two of his suggestions for her stories (for The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and Hercule Poirot's Christmas (see futher below for that entry).
Murder in Mesopotamia (1936)
Dedicated: "To my many archaeological friends in Iraq and Syria." These friends included of course Leonard and Katharine Woolley, Christie's first friends in the Middle East. She got to know them in 1928 when she visited Ur, the same year she had the divorce from Archie Christie. The Woolleys introduced her to Max Mallowan the second time she visited "the cradle of civilization" in 1930. Agatha and Max hit it off very well and were married later that same year. Max wrote in his memoirs that the character of Mrs. Leidner in this novel was modeled after Mrs. Woolley (something Christie very rarely did--ie, modeling a character after a real person she knew). Mrs. Woolley was a difficult woman to get along with and was extremely demanding. She also bossed her husband's team around; because of her forceful personality, Max was "stuck" showing Christie around the sites, but if that hadn't had happened they wouldn't have married. Anyway, Max said this about the similarity of the Leidner character and Katharine Woolley: "Fortunately, and perhaps unexpectedly, Katharine did not recognize certain traits which might have been taken as applicable to herself, and took no umbrage in this book."
Dumb Witness (1937)
Dedicated: "To dear Peter--most faithful of friends and dearest of companions, a dog in a thousand." Peter was the wirehaired terrier the Christies had after their world tour in 1924. Christie's dog Peter received a rare distinction: having two book dedications. The "dumb" witness in the novel, of course, is a wire-haired terrier called Bob--the pet dog of the victim's.
Death on the Nile (1937)
Dedicated: "To Sybil Burnett, who also loves wandering about the world." Sybil was wife to Sir Charles Burnett, an air vice-marshal in Algiers. Sybil met Christie during her second visit to the Middle East (the one when she met Max Mallowan), while they were both passengers on the boat from Trieste to Beirut. They both had first bad impressions on the other. Christie described Lady Burnett as someone "I don't like . . . I don't like the hat she is wearing, and I don't like her mushroom-coloured stockings." Sybil stated Christie as "one of the most unpleasant women I have ever seen." This mutual dislike turned around as they journeyed, luckily. Agatha later described Lady Burnett as "a woman of great originality . . . [who had] an inexhaustible enjoyment of life."
Appointment with Death (1938)
Dedicated: "To Richard and Myra Mallock to remind them of their journey to Petra."
Hercule Poirot's Christmas (1938)
Dedicated to James Watts, husband of Christie's sister, Madge: "You have always been one of the most faithful and kindly of my readers, and I was therefore seriously perturbed when I received from you a word of criticism. You complained that my murders were getting too refined--anaemic, in fact. You yearned for a 'good violent murder with lots of blood.' A murder where there was no doubt about its being murder! So this is your special story--written for you. I hope it may please." It was then signed, "Your affectionate sister-in-law, Agatha." Christie's description of the violence and blood was limited to one paragraph, although it satisfied James. However, Christie was too ladylike and refined for blood, butchery, and violence. The throat-cutting was fine for James Watts and no doubt Christie readers, but for her the violence was "heavy furniture overturned . . . china vases lay splintered on the floor."
Murder is Easy (1939)
Dedicated: "To Rosalind and Susan, the first critics of this book." Rosalind was, of course, Christie's own daughter and Susan North was Rosalind's best friend.
Dedicated: "To Peter and Peggy McLeod." In all reference books I've read (and in Christie's An Autobiography), the last name is spelled "MacLeod". Doctor Peter MacLeod ran the hospital in Mosul, Syria with his physician wife in the 1930s. During the London Blitz, the MacLeods' children went to Torquay to stay with the Mallowans, clear away from London.
Five Little Pigs
Dedicated to Stephen Glanville. Stephen Ranulph Kingdon Glanville was a professor of Egyptology and friend of both Agatha and Max Mallowan. He was an assistant in the Department of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities at the British Museum in 1924 between two excavation stints in Amarna, Egypt. Between 1935 and 1946, he held the position of Edwards Professor of Egyptian Archaeology and Philology at University College London. He was then as the chair of Egyptology at the University of Cambridge from 1946 until his death on his 56th birthday in 1956. He suggested to Christie the idea of setting a detective story in ancient Egypt and consequently provided much information to her on the subject (see Death Comes as the End below). He has a rare honor, that of having two dedications made to him by the Queen of Crime.
Dedicated to Robert Graves, the essayist and novelist. Christie writes the dedication as: "Since you are kind enough to say you like my stories, I venture to dedicate this book to you. All I ask is that you should sternly restrain your critical faculties (doubtless sharpened by your recent excesses in that line!) when reading it. This is a story for your pleasure and not a candidate for Mr. Graves' literary pillory!" Robert Graves and Christie became friends when they were neighbors during World War II, although Graves confessed that he enjoyed the company of Christie's archeologist husband Max more than hers. This opinionated man apparently liked Christie's work (at least prior to 1944 when Towards Zero was published), but still bashed the entire genre of detective fiction in 1957. In a scathing and nasty article titled "After a Century, Will Anyone Care Whodunit?" (in the New York Times Book Review), argued that in the future literature courses would be devoid of the mystery/detective/crime novel. He even attacked Christie and said that "nobody could promise Agatha immortality as a novelist." He continued saying that "her English is school-girlish, her situations for the most part artificial, her detail faulty." He only conceded that her theatrical endeavors will probably last. Whatever...
Death Comes as the End
Dedicated to Stephen R. K. Glanville, noted Egyptologist, Christie's dedication was this: "It was you who originally suggested to me the idea of a detective story set in Ancient Egypt, and but for your active help and encouragement this book would never have been written. I want to say here how much I have enjoyed all the interesting literature you have lent me and to thank you once more for the patience with which you have answered my questions and for the time and trouble you have expended. The pleasure and interest which the writing of the book have brought to me you already know." Glanville was a professional colleague and close personal friend of Max Mallowan, Christie's second husband. Glanville provided Christie with all she needed to know to accurately set a mystery in ancient Egypt. This book is unique for two reasons: 1) it had the only ending she was persuaded to change (persuaded by Glanville himself when allowed to read the manuscript, and 2) it is the only Christie novel with a historical setting (meaning, outside the contemporary of Christie's own life). Glanville's idea of setting a detective story in Ancient Egypt was that: "One ought to have a detective story written so that someone who enjoys reading detective stories and reading about those times can combine his pleasures." Christie makes an interesting comment about the book in her autobiography: "There is no doubt that I was bullied into it by Stephen . . . If Stephen was determined that I should write a detective story set in ancient Egypt, I should have to do so."
Dedicated: "For Larry and Danae, with apologies for using their swimming pool as the scene of a murder." These friends of Christie's are Mr. and Mrs. Francis L. Sullivan. Mr. Sullivan portrayed Hercule Poirot in Christie's first original play (Black Coffee) in 1930. The Sullivans and Mallowans became friendly a decade later when he portrayed Poirot in the stage adaptation of Peril at End House, and visited often in the Sullivans' country home in Surrey. Says Larry Sullivan about the use of his swimming pool: "At the back of the house my wife, in a moment of insane optimism of the English weather, had caused a swimming pool to be made, with half a dozen paths leading down to it through the chestnut wood. One fine Sunday morning I discovered Agatha wandering up and down these paths with an expression of intense concentration." He didn't find out that his swimming pool and the many paths would be included in a book until he received an advance copy of The Hollow. Indeed, when one reads the story, the reader will find those same paths and the chestnut wood are even described.
The Labors of Hercules
Dedicated: "To Edmund Cork of whose labours on behalf of Hercule Poirot I am deeply appreciative, this book is affectionately dedicated." Mr. Cork was her literary agent from Hughes Massie, Ltd. She was introduced to them early on by Eden Phillpotts, the first professional writer to have read a few of Christie's--as a young hopeful writer--unpublished writings. Christie signed on with Hughes Massie while still under contract with The Bodley Head, publishers of her first six novels. Christie went to sign a contract for those first six without any agent's advice--a mistake that she rectified by having Hughes Massie. They negotiated for her with the publisher Collins in 1923 for a favorable contract; Christie's first novel with Collins was the famous and successful The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.
A Murder is Announced
Dedicated: "To Ralph and Anne Newman, at whose house I first tasted . . . 'Delicious Death!'" Delicious Death also refers to a chocolate cake baked for Dora Bunner's birthday in the novel.
They Came to Baghdad
Dedicated: "To all my friends in Baghdad."
Mrs McGinty's Dead
Dedicated: "To Peter Saunders, in gratitude for his kindness to authors." The stage producer Mr. Saunders produced his first Christie play The Hollow in 1951 and followed that with the phenomenon that was The Mousetrap in 1952. Peter Saunders was also producer of the Christie play Witness for the Prosecution, on both sides of the Atlantic in 1954. He produced Christie's rare play (and only one-act play) Rule of Three in 1962; it received reviews saying that the new play "is a harmless, naive evening, full of readymade lines" and that the play "will probably appeal to amateurs and the less demanding reps." Saunders' last Christie play was 1981's Cards on the Table (sans Poirot or Race), and was dramatized by Leslie Darbon and based on Christie's novel of same name. Perfect that this novel was dedicated to Saunders: in this novel, Mrs. Oliver visits a playwright to adapt one of her mystery novels for the stage.
After the Funeral
Dedicated: "For James, in memory of happy days at Abney." This James is the son of Christie's sister Madge and her husband James Watts (to whom both received dedications previously). Little James (or "Jack" as he was called) was loved by Christie very much. She did much with him in her youth. Believe it or not, Jack (who at the time this novel was published, was in his early fifties) had known Max Mallowan, Christie's second husband, at New College in Oxford. Abney Hall was the Watts family home that Madge and James settled into after their marriage. Christie spent Christmas several times there at Abney Hall, first around the age of twelve (after her father Fred had died). She went with her mother Clara to the Victorian estate and recalls: "it was a wonderful house to have Christmas in if you were a child" because it had plenty of rooms, passages, and alcoves--something Christie says that is "everything in the world that a child could want." It was Abney Hall that Agatha found refuge after her disappearance in December of 1926. Christie and her daughter Rosalind were frequent visitors at Abney Hall. By the 1940s, the staff of sixteen indoor servants was reduced to one part-time cook. Abney Hall doubles as the Abernethie family home Enderby Hall in the novel.
A Pocket Full of Rye
Dedicated: "To Bruce Ingram, who liked and published my first short stories." Mr. Ingram was the editor of The Sketch, the illustrated newspaper that published almost a third of Christie's short stories. Her short stories that appeared in The Sketch were the stories later collected in Poirot Investigates. In fact, it was Mr. Ingram that suggested to Christie that Hercule Poirot would do great in the short story form (Poirot and Christie first appeared in the magazine in March 1923). The magazine also commissioned the illustrator W. Smithson Broadhead to do a portrait of Poirot, which at Christie's insistence, was used as the cover of Poirot Investigates for The Bodley Head.
Dedicated: "To Anthony--Who likes foreign travel as much as I do." This Anthony is Anthony Hicks, who married Christie's only (widowed) daughter, Rosalind in 1949. Mr. Hicks studied Sanskrit and Tibetan at the School of Oriental and African studies, but was a trained lawyer. Christie described him as "one of the kindest people I know." It was Anthony who suggested to Christie to use the title The Mousetrap for her play adapted from the story Three Blind Mice (the original title had conflict with a previously known play in London under same name). The new title came from Shakespeare's play Hamlet (act 3, scene 2), which was the "play within a play."
Dead Man's Folly
Dedicated: "To Humphrey and Peggie Trevelyan." Baron Trevelyan was chairman of the British Museum and a school friend of Max's at Lancing College in West Sussex years before (when Max attended the school 1917 to 1921). Agatha and Max had been friends of the Trevelyans for years, and Max even served as a trustee of the Museum during the period that his friend was chairman. Trevelyan was also ambassador to several countries, including Iraq, Egypt, and China.
Ordeal by Innocence
Dedicated: "To Billy Collins with Affection and Gratitude." This Billy Collins was William Collins, Jr., head of Christie's longtime publisher William Collins Sons & Co., when in 1926 she left John Lane/The Bodley Head. This publishing firm was founded by Collins' grandfather in 1814, in Glasgow, Scotland. They are still the publishers of Agatha Christie's novels today.
Cat Among the Pigeons
Dedicated: "To Stella and Larry Kirwan."
The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding & a Selection of Entrees (1960)
Dedication: "Let me dedicate this book to the memory of Abney Hall--its kindness and its hospitality. And a happy Christmas to all who read this book." Abney Hall was the family home of the Watts family, the family Christie's sister Madge married into. Christie wrote a forward (something rare in her books, found in Cards on the Table and Death Comes as the End also) for this short story collection in which she discusses the holiday setting of the main story and then reminisces about her Christmases at Abney Hall with her mother Clara and the Watts family.
The Pale Horse (1961)
Dedicated: "To John and Helen Mildmay White--with many thanks for the opportunity given me to see justice done."
The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side (1962)
Dedicated: "To Margaret Rutherford, in admiration." Margaret Rutherford of course was the British actress who portrayed Miss Marple in four movies between 1961 and 1964. Christie came to the movie set of Murder at the Gallop and visited Rutherford. Rutherford called Christie a "delightful woman" and that when they met "face to face we instantly clicked." While Christie admired Rutherford's acting in other films, she made it publicly known that she had an intense dislike for Rutherford's casting as Miss Marple.
The Clocks (1963)
Dedicated: "To my old friend Mario with happy memories of delicious food at the Caprice." I believe that the restaurant referred to here is Le Caprice, opened in 1947 under Mario Gallati, former Maitre d'Hotel of sister restaurant The Ivy. Both were reinvented by Caprice Holdings in 1981. Le Caprice is located on Arlington Street in London. Neither Mr. Pendergast in his book Everyman's Guide nor Dennis Sanders and Len Lovallo in their The Agatha Christie Companion know who this Mario could be. The idea that it's Mario Gallati is purely my speculation and opinion.
A Caribbean Mystery (1964)
Dedicated to John Cruikshank Rose, "with happy memories of my visit to the West Indies." Christie's and Mallowan's friendship with John Rose started back in 1928, at the archaeological site at Ur. He was the architectural draftsman then and when Max was in charge of the dig at Arpachiyah, Syria in 1932, he hired Rose to be his draftsman. Rose was a Scot, and as Christie described him, "a beautiful draughtsman, with a quiet way of talking, and a gentle humour that I found irresistible."
At Bertram's Hotel (1965)
Dedicated: "For Harry Smith because I appreciate the scientific way he reads my books."
Third Girl (1966)
Dedicated to Nora Blackborow.
Endless Night (1967)
Dedicated: "To Nora Prichard from whom I first heard the legend of Gipsy's Acre." Nora Prichard was the paternal grandmother of Mathew, Christie's only grandson. Gipsy's Acre was a field located on a Welsh moorland.
By the Pricking of My Thumbs (1968)
Dedicated "to the many readers in this and other countries who write to me asking: 'What has happened to Tommy and Tuppence? What are they doing now?' My best wishes to you all, and I hope that you will enjoy meeting Tommy and Tuppence again, years older, but with spirit unquenched!" Indeed, it was years later when readers got to read about the Beresfords again. The last time readers had a Tommy and Tuppence novel was in 1941, years removed from Thumbs' publication in 1968.
Hallowe'en Party (1969)
Dedicated: "To P. G. Wodehouse--whose books and stories have brightened my life for many years. Also, to show my pleasure in his having been kind enough to tell me he enjoyed my books." Wodehouse (1881-1975) was the writer of the comic stories of the Edwardian era. He created Jeeves the butler and his imbecile of an employer, Bertie Wooster.
Passenger to Frankfurt (1970)
Dedicated to Margaret Guillaume.
Dedicated to Daphne Honeybone. Mrs. Honeybone was Agatha's private secretary for many years and continued being so for Max Mallowan after Christie's death.
Elephants Can Remember (1972)
Dedicated: "To Molly Myers in return for many kindnesses."
Postern of Fate (1973)
Dedicated: "For Hannibal and his master." Hannibal was the Beresford couple's Manchester terrier in the novel. Hannibal was a double for Treacle, the Machester terrier that Agatha and Max had as a pet. Of course, the master referred here is Max Mallowan. These were Agatha's two companions till the end of her life.