Dame Agatha CHRISTIE (1890–1976)
Sir Max MALLOWAN (1904–1978)
Winterbrook House, Cholsey
Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born at Torquay in 1890, the daughter of Clara Boehmer and Frederick Alvah Miller, a wealthy American. In 1914 she married the dashing Archibald Christie and Rosalind, her only child, was born in 1919. The marriage ended in 1928. Meanwhile in 1920 she had written her first detective story The Mysterious Affair at Styles, introducing Hercule Poirot to the world. Murder at the Vicarage in 1930 saw the creation of Miss Marple.
In 1930 she married the archaeologist Max Mallowan who was fourteen years her junior. He was assisting Leonard Woolley at Ur when he met Agatha who was visiting the site. After the war he became Professor of Western Asiatic Archaeology at London University and as Director of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq he excavated at Nineveh and Nimrud 1947–61. Agatha accompanied him on his digs and her experiences in the Middle East inspired Murder in Mesopotamia, Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile. Max Mallowan became a Fellow of All Souls in 1962 and was knighted in 1968. A DBE followed for Agatha Christie in 1971.
They were looking for a house in Oxfordshire in 1934 and were delighted to find the elegant Winterbrook House in its tranquil setting on the Thames, just outside Wallingford. Winterbrook village may have partly inspired the village of St Mary Mead in the Miss Marple stories. Many of her books were written at Winterbrook where she and her husband found great contentment. They are buried in the churchyard of St Mary’s Church, Cholsey.
Agatha Christie wrote over 100 novels, stories and plays, including some non-detective fiction under the name of Mary Westmacott. The ‘Queen of Crime’ has become the best-selling novelist of all time. Her detective stories continue to attract new generations of readers all over the world and some two billion copies of her books, translated into at least a hundred languages, have been sold. The original production of her play The Mousetrap has been in continuous performance in London since 1952, breaking all records. Countless film versions of her stories have consolidated her fame.
Further Reading: Agatha Christie, An Autobiography (1977)
The plaque was unveiled at Winterbrook House, Cholsey on Saturday 8 May 2010 by Dame Agatha Christie’s grandson Mathew Prichard CBE DL. Representatives of Cholsey Parish Council and Wallingford Town Council among others attended the ceremony.
- Oxford Mail, 15 September 2009: ‘Plaque will solve mystery of where Agatha Christie lived’
Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board
lived here 1934–76
with her husband
SIR MAX MALLOWAN