In many ways the life of Daphne du Maurier resembles that of a fairy tale. Born into a family with a rich artistic and historical background, the daughter of a famous actor-manager, she was indulged as a child and grew up enjoying enormous freedom from financial and parental restraint. She spent her youth sailing boats, travelling on the Continent with friends, and writing stories. A prestigious publishing house accepted her firs...moreHow do you write a blog about a woman who influenced your life—without slighting another woman with equal influence? And if you don’t write a blog about relatives/family members/friends, how do you honor a single female when there are so many greats who have paved the way for everything from women’s suffrage to females on the space shuttle?
Easy, you write about writing—and get very specific. Thus, (coward that I am) I pay homage to the Queen of Crime, Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie (née Miller). After all, we writers (and readers) of who-dunnits cannot even imagine a world with Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple.Even if you’re not a mystery-enthusiast, you have to admire a female born in 1890 who became the best-selling novelist of all times (Source: Guinness Book of World Records). Agatha wrote 66 detective novels and has sold four billion (Yes, BILLION) copies of her books. Her play, The Mousetrap, also holds the record for the longest initial run. It opened in 1952 and as of 2012, is still running.
Of course no woman is worthy of recognition just for selling books, but Aggie was also a humanitarian. During the First World War, she joined the Voluntary Aid Detachment and clocked 3,400 unpaid hours attending wounded soldiers at the hospital in Torquay.
Like a lot of modern woman, Agatha endured heartache before finding true love. She divorced first hubby Archie (maybe because the cad admitted to being in love with Nancy Neele). But we have our HEA—in 1930 (at the age of 40) she married an archaeologist after joining him on a dig—isn’t that romantic?But perhaps the thing I like most about Agatha, is her restraint in killing off her popular hero, Poirot. According to Aggie’s diary, our grand dame found Poirot “insufferable.” Although she considered him an ego-centric creep, the author didn’t whack the detective during the height of his popularity. Aggie felt her job was to give the readers what they wanted (eh, can we learn something here). That said, Poirot is the only fictional character with an obituary in The New York Times.
Despite her greatness, critics have commented that Aggies’s plotting ability exceeded her literary skill. I say, “Duh—four BILLION books.”What about you? What authors do you love that critics have panned?
Author of Blue Ridge Fear
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