|Dame Agatha Christie DBE (15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976), was an English crime writer of novels, short stories and plays. She also wrote romances under the name Mary Westmacott, but is best remembered for her 80 detective novels and her successful West End theatre plays. Her works, particularly those featuring detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple, have given her the title the 'Queen of Crime' and made her one of the most important and innovative writers in the development of the genre.|
Christie has been referred to by the Guinness Book of World Records as the best-selling writer of books of all time and the best-selling writer of any kind, along with William Shakespeare. Only the Bible is known to have outsold her collected sales of roughly four billion copies of novels. UNESCO states that she is currently the most translated individual author in the world with only the collective corporate works of Walt Disney Productions surpassing her. Christie's books have been translated into at least 56 languages.
Her stage play The Mousetrap holds the record for the longest initial run in the world: it opened at the Ambassadors Theatre in London on 25 November 1952 and as of 2009 is still running after more than 23,000 performances. In 1955 Christie was the first recipient of the Mystery Writers of America's highest honour, the Grand Master Award, and in the same year, Witness for the Prosecution was given an Edgar Award by the MWA, for Best Play. Most of her books and short stories have been filmed, some many times over (Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile and 4.50 From Paddington for instance), and many have been adapted for television, radio, video games and comics.
In 1968 Booker Books, a subsidiary of the agri-industrial conglomerate Booker-McConnell, bought a 51 percent stake in Agatha Christie Limited, the private company that Christie had set up for tax purposes. Booker later increased its stake to 64 percent. In 1998, Booker sold its shares to Chorion, a company whose portfolio also includes the literary estates of Enid Blyton and Dennis Wheatley.