Agatha Christie’s Poirot farewell unveiled at ‘dark’ crime exhibition

Published March 24, 2024
AGATHA Christie’s 1930s typewriter is pictured during a press preview for an exhibition, Murder by the Book: A celebration of 20th century crime fiction’, at Cambridge University Library.—AFP
AGATHA Christie’s 1930s typewriter is pictured during a press preview for an exhibition, Murder by the Book: A celebration of 20th century crime fiction’, at Cambridge University Library.—AFP

CAMBRIDGE: Agatha Christie’s 1930s typewriter and the manuscript of her final Hercule Poirot novel, which was kept for decades in a bank vault, were displayed on Saturday in a new exhibition delving into the “dark stuff” at the heart of crime fiction.

The cover of the faded and fragile manuscript has the book’s title “Curtain” written in capital letters in Christie’s own hand along with her name and address — Greenway House in Devon, southwest England — in spidery longhand.

“She wrote it as a nest egg for her daughter Rosalind, ‘something to cheer you up when you come back from the funeral’,” said crime novelist Nicola Upson, curator of the “Murder by the Book” exhibition at Cambridge University Library in central England.

The last Poirot mystery, in which Christie’s fabled Belgian detective dies, was written in the early 1940s during World War II in case she did not survive. At the time “nothing was guaranteed”, Upson said. In fact Christie went on to write many more Poirot novels before she died in 1976. But with the final instalment already written, fears Poirot’s demise might be leaked dictated that the manuscript be kept under lock and key.

“It’s Poirot’s last case and she wanted that to come out after her own death and for the royalties from it to benefit her daughter,” said Upson. Poirot’s fate, when it was finally revealed in 1975, was seen as so culturally significant it was marked by a front page obituary in the New York Times.

Published in Dawn, March 24th, 2024

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