ENGLISHRIVIERA - Key Persons


Agatha Christie

The English Riviera is immensely proud to be associated with its best-known resident and to have played a part in Agatha's formative years when the experiences, places and people that she encountered provided the inspiration for many of the characters and plots she created within her much-loved stories and plays. Every September, to mark her birthday, the International Agatha Christie Festival takes place across the English Riviera. Details of this year's programme will be published on the festival website. Whether you are a first time visitor or are returning to the English Riviera, you may be surprised by just how many Torquay landmarks have an Agatha connection. Did you know that Agatha Christie wrote an extensive collection of works? 66 mystery novels, 19 plays and 150 short stories to be precise. But do you know which is the most popular? Many may believe that it is 'Murder on the Orient Express' (1934) but the best-selling mystery novel of all time is … 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of Agatha Christie's first novel and she remains as popular as ever. In London, 'The Mousetrap' is still playing as is an inovative production of 'Witness for the Prosectution' and 2020 will see the release of a new adaptation of 'Death on the Nile', directed and starring Kenneth Branagh with an all-star cast. As well as Branagh, the cast includes Annette Bening, Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Rose Leslie, Adam Garcia, Tome Bateman and Letitia Wright.

Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller

Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born at Ashfield, a large Victorian mansion in Torquay on 15th September 1890 and she was christened at All Saints Church. She spent an idyllic childhood at the family home with her upper-middle class American father, Frederick, and her English mother, Clara, and older siblings, Monty and Madge. Ashfield was demolished in the 1960's but today a blue plaque on Barton Road, Torquay marks the spot where the original building once stood. As a child, Agatha enjoyed writing short stories, accessing her father's extensive library and taking inspiration from her mother, who was an excellent storyteller. Her father was a member of Torquay Natural History Society, later to become Torquay Museum and he supported William Pengelly's excavations at Kents Cavern. He was also a regular visitor to Royal Torbay Yacht Club and president of Torquay Cricket Club. Agatha enjoyed many hobbies including taking dance, piano and singing lessons and took part in amateur theatricals at with the Mallock family, at their home, Cockington Court. She enjoyed roller-skating at her favourite spot at Princess Pier, surfing and swimming at Elberry Cove and Ladies' Bathing Cove, now known as Beacon Cove, and played golf at Churston and Torquay Golf courses. Today, it's possible to view Beacon Cove from Living Coasts' terrace. Agatha attended many social functions at many locations in Torquay: The Imperial Hotel; The Athenaeum Rooms, once located at 43 Fleet Street; The Royal Theatre, now the home of the Central Cinema in Abbey Road and The Pavilion on the harbourside. The Pavilion, once a thriving art nouveau styled concert hall and theatre attracted celebrated artistes such as composer Sir Edward Elgar, pianist Rachmaninoff and ballerina Anna Pavlova. It was whilst attending a Wagner concert at The Pavilion in 1913 that Agatha accepted a proposal of marriage from her first husband, Archie Christie.

ANTHONY DEAN PAYNE-NEALE

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