Agatha Christie was born in Torquay in 1890 to an American father and English mother and would go on to be recognised around the world as one of the most important writers of detective fiction during the so-called British Golden Age.
During the First World War Christie worked as a dispenser in a hospital pharmacy and it was during this time that she gained the extensive knowledge of poisons that would prove incredibly useful during her writing career.
Her debut novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, was published in 1920 and marked the first appearance of Belgian detective Hercule Poirot who subsequently went on to appear in many other novels.
In 1926, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was published to great international acclaim. The book proved popular despite claims by some that it broke the rules of fair play by departing from established conventions about who the murderer might be.
That same year, Christie found herself making headlines for more personal reasons. Following her discovery that her husband had been having an affair, Christie vanished for ten days, prompting a nationwide search. She was eventually discovered staying in a hotel in Harrogate under the name of her husband's mistress, apparently suffering from a temporary form of amnesia.
Christie divorced her husband soon afterwards and it was then that sheentered the most prolific phase of her writing career, introducing her other best known detective creation: the elderly spinster, Miss Jane Marple.
In 1930, Christie married the well-known archaeologist Max Mallowan whom she had met while travelling in the Middle East. She began to accompany him on digs throughout the area which also became the setting for some of her later and most enduring works.
/br>In all, Christie wrote 66 novels including Murder on the Orient Express, The Murder on the Links and Death on the Nile and several plays including The Mousetrap. She also wrote six further novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott.
Christie was made a Dame of the British Empire in 1971. She died in 1976 but her work remains in print and hugely popular.