September 25 – October 2, 2008 Edition


Agatha Christie Tapes

May Be Published

LONDON/9/22/08­More than 13 hours of long-lost audio tapes recorded by mystery writer Agatha Christie, provide insights into the origins of Jane Marple, one of the author’s best-loved heroines. Christie’s grandson, Mathew Prichard, found a host of old tapes while cleaning out his grandmother’s house several years ago, but couldn’t play them until he fixed the broken old machine on which they were recorded.

The tapes were recorded by Christie for her autobiography, titled An Autobiography. The recordings don’t have any startling new revelations, according to her grandson. But he said hearing her voice again was "quite eerie."

According to the Daily Telegraph, Christie describes Miss Marple, the famous fictional sleuth in her books, as "an old spinster lady, living in a village, the sort of lady who would have been rather like some of my grandmother’s cronies." In the tapes, Christie said she patterned Miss Marple after her grandmother who had an instinct for sniffing out conspiracy and crooks.

How the tapes might be used or published will be decided by Chorion, the British company which oversees the Christie estate. Tamsen Harward, literary estates business manager at Chorion, said the company had intended to bring her autobiography back into print before the tapes were found. He was uncertain how the material might be used. He said Chorion and the family are now discussing whether they will publish the tapes and how they will be used.

In the U.S. Christie’s non-series titles are published by St. Martins. Penguin publishes Christie’s mystery series. Christie died in 1976 and her autobiography was first published in 1977, but is currently out of print. Chorion reportedly will be at the Frankfurt Book Fair with the material, presumably to cut a publishing deal.