She’s an author whose stories were filled with such intriguing and mysterious tales that readers simply couldn’t put her books down. Her novels have sold about four billion copies and have been translated into at least 103 languages. She is the best-selling novelist of all time, surpassed only by William Shakespeare and the Bible. Her success has spanned generations, and she is as famous today as she was when her books were first published many decades ago. You probably wouldn’t expect that the person described, who found such success in the literary world, would have had problems reading and writing, but she absolutely did. She was dyslexic. Her name? Agatha Christie.
Agatha was born in 1890 in Torquay, England. She was educated by her mother at home, the youngest of three sisters. As an adult, she is quoted as saying that she remembered being looked upon as the “slow one” among her family members.
“It was quite true, and I knew it and accepted it. Writing and spelling were always terribly difficult for me. My letters were without originality. I was an extraordinarily bad speller and have remained so until this day.”
Even years later, after attaining great fame, notoriety, and respect for her work, she sadly still recalled the feelings of inadequacy and low self-worth from her childhood. But being homeschooled in the rural setting of the family’s home was important in her journey; it led her directly to her future career as a writer. Agatha often felt bored, left with plenty of time to daydream and some difficulty in communicating with her sisters. Her family knew she had a wild imagination and couldn’t quite relate to her. Making up stories helped to both pass the time and give her an outlet for her emotions, so she began writing fiction. Agatha once said, “Writing is a great comfort to people like me, who are unsure of themselves and have trouble expressing themselves properly.”
In no way did dyslexia stop Agatha from learning to write well and establishing herself in a creative profession so dominated by men. By the time she was a teenager, she had written quite a number of short stories and one novel. By age 21, she had finished the first book that she would ever have published, The Mysterious Affair at Styles. She focused her attention on weaving captivating stories, capturing fascinating characters and plenty of plot twists. Her works became instant classics. When her play, The Mousetrap, was first debuted in 1952 at London’s Ambassador’s Theater, it was to rave reviews. It has been performed there ever since without a break to this day.
Perhaps her most popular, utterly complicated, and long-lived character, Hercule Poirot, was a detective who has appeared in more than 33 novels and 50 short stories over the course of her career. Agatha’s readers simply adored him, and although she reported growing weary of writing him into her stories, she continued to do so for his real-life fans. In 1975, after his final appearance in the book Curtain, he was the only fictional literary character to ever receive the honor of an obituary in The New York Times.
Some other of Agatha’s most notable works include: And Then There Were None, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Murder on the Orient Express, and Endless Night.
Agatha Christie continued on to publish books for more than fifty years, more than 70 in total, along with several hundred short story collections and many plays. Her contributions to the literary and theatrical communities are simply immense, as she continues to inspire sleuths across the world as they delve into each of her twisted tales.
There are lots of ways to help if you believe your child may have dyslexia. Our ‘Solutions for Dyslexia’ page discusses the steps to take to reassure your child, provide them with effective learning strategies and ensure they get the support they need.