Dame Agatha Christie was born Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller on 15 September 1890 in Torquay, Devon to wealthy American Frederick Alvah Miller and his wife Clara. The youngest of three siblings, she was educated at home by her mother, who taught her all the skills a young woman was expected to need at the time.
At age five, Christie decided to teach herself to read, having been fascinated by books and words. Her father also bought her textbooks for mathematics having recognised her ability in the subject. When she was 15, she moved to a finishing school in Paris for 18 months to study vocals and piano.
In 1912, she met Colonel Archibald Christie, a Royal Flying Corps pilot, at a local dance. They married on Christmas Eve 1914 while he was home on leave from fighting in France. After the outbreak of World War I, Christie took up nursing and it was during this time that she began writing. Her early stories however were met with rejection from publishers.
Her first book, The Mysterious Affair at Styles featuring Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, eventually found a publisher in 1920. She had long been a fan of detective novels, but had only decided to write one herself after her sister, Madge, bet her she couldn’t write a good one!
In 1919, Christie gave birth to her only child, Rosalind, while living in Ashfield, Torquay where she had settled into married life. In 1926, she released her sixth novel, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, which was a great success and later marked as a genre classic, as well as being one of the author’s all-time favourites.