On January 12th, 1976: Agatha Christie dies

Agatha Christie plaque -Torre Abbey

Agatha Christie plaque -Torre Abbey. Courtesy WikimediaCommons

There is an odd fascination people have with crime. But it’s a fact that people love films and books dealing with criminal deeds, and the writers of whodunnits belong to the most famous and successful authors in the literary universe. Yet even between those very successful writers there are a few outstanding names, and one of the finest authors of crime stories is for sure Agatha Christie, who died 38 years ago today. Her main characters are so famous that one of them, Hercule Poirot, even got an obituary in the NYT (as well as a Google Doodle to mark Christie’s 120th birthday).

Christie’s own life was no less adventurous as her characters‘.  She was born on September 15th, 1890 in Torquay, Devon. Visit places of her life on the Agatha Christie Mile. Here are some photos, too.
She travelled through Egypt in the early 20th century, attended to wounded soldiers during the 1st World War, joined her husband for archaeological digs in the Near East and even vanished for 10 days without any trace – and until today without a satisfying explanation.
Here’s an interesting extended lecture about her Near-East-Years:

You can even see some of her discoveries in the British Museum (H/T Matthias Rascher)

Until her death in 1976 she wrote more than 80 detective novels, almost 20 plays, many short stories and, under the pseudonym of Mary Westmacott, a couple of romances. Here you find a list of all her published works, in chronological order of their publishing date. 
To get to know more about her life and work, read her biography on Wikipedia

Christie had a large influence on the modern murder mysteries, as The New Yorker states in an article, and her secret notebooks reveal the rather unusual way how she constructed her stories (H/T Matthias Rascher). Listen to a rare interview about how to write a best-selling novel here.

Her two main Character are without doubt the two very special detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. But she obviously was not too fond of the two personalities she had created, as tapes reveal on which she takes on them. Read about it in a NYT article here.

Hercule Poirot, the famous Belgian detective, starred in 39 novels and four volumes of short stories, as well as on TV, where he was awesomely represented by many great actors, for example by the famous Sir Peter Ustinov and, my all-time-favorite Poirot, by David Suchet in a series. Read a wonderful interview about his relationship to his role here and watch the trailer for the final episodes:

There’s also a cool interactive feature about Suchet’s Poirot outfit, and an article about Poirot’s perhaps most famous case, the “Murder on the Orient Express”.

Hotel room

Christie’s hotel room in Istanbul, Turkey, where she wrote the “Murder on the Orient Express”. Courtesy of WikimediaCommons.

More Information on Poirot is provided on this cool US website and in this fantastic longreads of the LA Review of Books.

The second famous detective is totally different: Miss Marple, a fragile but sharp minded elderly English spinster, famously portrait by Margaret Rutherford and Joan Hickson in the TV series, who was a perfect match to the descriptions of Miss Marple in the books. BBC provides an overview of the different Marple-performers.
And here you can experience a piece of Miss Marple’s World: Serve your tea in style. In Miss-Marple-style. 😉

For even more information:

Here’s a list of 35 fun facts about Agatha Christie, the guys over at Mental Floss have also gathered cool facts and even more facts and stunning trivia here.

The Guardian has put together the  10 best Christie novels for a start.

Or visit the official Agatha Christie website.

A very special glimpse into Christie’s life provides the place where she lived and invented her characters, her estate Greenway. Smithonian has a great article about it.

And if these informations are still not enough for you, or you got a taste for Christie, please visit BBC’s Christie website, a treasure trove of all things Christie.

Oh – and if you know everything about Agatha Christie now, don’t forget to take the quiz from The New Yorker 😉

Grave Stone

Agatha Christie’s tomb stone, Cholsey. Courtesy of WikimediaCommons

On March 3rd, 1913: The “Woman Suffrage Procession” took place in Washington, D.C.

Today of course we all know that men and women are equal. We have (or at least should have) the same rights and chances. But it was not always like this. Gaining even fundamental rights was a long and thorny way, and it is not very long ago that the fight for it was in full swing.

For thousands of years, it was “common knowledge” that women were not created – nor fitted – to take a place in society, to work and decide without being overviewed by men. They lacked, so everybody believed, both physical and mental stability, as well as intellect, and were to be compared with children. (Read a lengthy article about the attitudes towards women in history here.). But during the 18th and 19th century, a strong confidence grew among women that this was not true at all and that they could do the same things as men – equally well. Bit by bit they fought for it – for being allowed to graduate at universities, to become teachers, doctors and lawyers. Bit by bit they gained these rights. But one still was not in their reach, in most of European countries and American states: The right to vote. The right to really influence society and politics. This was the reason why they started a crusade – the women’s suffrage movement.

March 3rd, 2013 is the 100th anniversary of an important date in the history of the US branch of this movement: The “Woman Suffrage Procession” taking place in Washington, D.C.

Official program - Woman suffrage procession March 3, 1913 - crop

Official program – Women suffrage procession March 3rd, 1913. Courtesy of Adam Cuerden, WikiCommons

It was not the first or the last of those Marches, but it was a decidedly big and well-covered one. Many photos exist from there (Just take a look at this wonderful collection over at The Atlantic). And it had an impact, if not for the march itself, though many prominent women took part, then for the aftermaths. The way the women were treated by the police and the crowd (more than 300 were injured) led to a senate hearing after which the head of the police was replaced. Many people became more aware of the suffrage movement, and began to question the way women were treated. It took till 1920, however, till the 19th Amendment finally allowed all American women to vote.

Women's suffrage

Head of the procession in Washington, D.C., March 3rd, 1913. Courtesy of WikiMedia

Celebrate the Women’s suffrage movement and the 100th anniversary of the Woman Suffrage Procession in Washington, D.C. with a few links I’ve put together.

Read an in-depth-article on the March in Washington on the Library-of-Congress-Website. Here you can also find a huge collection of texts and pictures on the Women’s suffrage movement. About.com provides another good collection of pictures. TIME magazine featured a slide show “A woman’s right to vote” some time ago, too and there are wonderful, powerful photographs to find on BuzzFeed.

This short video shows a few moving pictures that survived from the beginning of the 20th century:

There is a nice Flickr Set providing a few photographs of original documents related to the movement. This page on History.com puts together quite a few interesting links to articles, photos and videos on the topic.

Here you find a brief overview on who were the women in the center of the Suffrage movement.

This website “Woman suffrage Memorabilia” is a treasure trove of memorabilia of that important time of history. See magazines, ribbons and much more there.

Not everyone was happy about the women’s wish for the vote, which can be seen in these two letters to the NYT from 1918, or this article, called “A famed biologist’s warning of the peril in votes for women” (links to PDF!). It is als a motif in this parody on Lady GaGa’s song “Bad romance” that explores the suffrage movement.

This blogpost puts together some of the most common arguments against woman suffrage and there is also an interesting pamphlet “Vote NO on woman suffrage” from 1910.

Suffragette-that-knew-jiujitsu

The Suffragette who knew jiujitsu. By Arthur Wallis Mills via Wikimedia Commons

Finally women succeeded: Read a collection of NYT articles featuring the Passage of the 19th Amendment. But it should take decades till the right to vote was given to women all over the globe. The last country granting its women this right is Saudi Arabia, whose female citizens will vote for the 1st time in 2015.