January 12, 1976: Best-selling crime writer Agatha Christie dies

The creator of Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple, who sold more than 300 million books in her lifetime, died after years of poor health.

The world’s most successful novelist, Dame Agatha Christie, died on this day in 1976 aged 85 at her home in Wallingford, Oxfordshire.

The celebrated crime fiction writer, who created famous sleuths Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple among others, passed away having been in poor health for a number of years.

Her 66 crime novels and 153 short stories made her famous across the world, and it is estimated she sold 300 million books in her lifetime. Today, sales of her works are said to have topped two billion; her best-selling individual novel, And Then There Were None, has sold over 100 million copies alone.

Dame Agatha’s first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, was published in 1920 and introduced Poirot, a Belgian detective who had relocated to England during the Great War, and became famous for his extravagant moustache as much as for his ‘little grey cells’.

The Queen and Dame Agatha Christie at the Royal Premier of Murder on the Orient Express

During the Second World War she wrote ‘final cases’ for Poirot and Marple, to be released when she was too old to write any more. The final Poirot story, Curtain, was published in 1975; Miss Marple’s swansong, Sleeping Murder, followed nine months after her death.

Her last public appearance, pictured above, was at the Royal Premiere of the 1974 film version of Murder on the Orient Express, starring Albert Finney as Poirot. She is said to have enjoyed the adaptation, but remarked that Poirot's moustaches were not luxurious enough.

[November 10, 1960: Lady Chatterley’s Lover flies off the shelves after landmark legal victory]

[Also on this day: January 12, 1982 - Mark Thatcher goes missing in Sahara during desert rally]

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