Long lost essay by Agatha Christie published

In today’s edition of The Guardian newspaper there is an article with details of an essay written by Agatha Christie in 1945 on the art of the British mystery story. It was commissioned by the Ministry of Information and intended as a piece of propaganda but apparently was only ever published in the Soviet Union in 1947. Among the choice comments to be found in Alison Flood’s article, she quotes Christie’s essay as saying of John Dickson Carr that he was a “master magician … the supreme conjurer, the King of the Art of Misdirection”. Christie also extolls the virtues of such fine authors as Ngaio Marsh, Margery Allingham and Dorothy L. Sayers, though not without some mild criticism. Lord Peter Wimsey she opines is “… an example of a good man spoilt”.

The essay has been included as a preface to a new edition (hardback and Kindle) of the Detection Club’s 1933 round-robin novel Ask a Policeman, with an introduction by the estimable Martin Edwards (who blogs over at Do You Write Under Your Own Name?).

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11 Responses to Long lost essay by Agatha Christie published

  1. Sergio – Oh, this is so interesting! Thanks for pointing out that article. And it will be very interesting to have it as a preface to Ask a Policeman. Off to read the article now!

  2. Apparently Chrisie did allow herself to be fairly honest in the belief it wouldn’t be published in the UK …

  3. Great stuff, Sergio! I always thought there would be unpublished essays or manuscripts of Agatha Christie tucked away somewhere. There’s so little else by her other than her published works. Thanks for the link..

    • Cheers Prashant – the book is no necessarily a favourite but I’ll get it for the preface and for the intro by Martin Edwards, a man who is not only a detective novelist with a high reputation but the archivist of the Detection Club so he is supremely well-placed for the job!

  4. Curt Evans says:

    One quibble: This essay was originally published in CADS: Crime and Detective Stories.

    • Well, the article does at least state that it was actually unearthed 15 years ago …

      • curtis evans says:

        Christie expert Tony Medawar says he discovered it back in the early 1980s and it was published in CADS a year or two ago, as I recollect. HarperCollins seems to be under something of a misimpression here. CADS does a lot of good work with Golden Age mystery history.

        • That does seem odd – the article clearly has David Brawn of HC state that he was the one that came across it in 1997. Is there a reason CADS doesn’t have any sort of web presence?

          • curtis evans says:

            It’s unfortunate. CADS is rather old-fashioned in that regard, but it would have nice for HarperCollins to give the magazine and Tony Medawar some slight bit of credit.

          • Not having a web presence these days is certainly an act of faith these days, or perhaps an article of faith let’s put it that way. The CADS reference was added very quickly to the comments on The Guardian page which i think shows that at least there was real awareness of the issue. I wonder if Martin Edwards might wade in on this? I am of course ever grateful for Medawar’s work on uncovering John Dickson Carr materials too.

        • PS Someone has mentioned the prior CADS publication in the The Guardian’s talkback at least.

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