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GREAT BRITAIN
1991

Agatha Christie
[Sept. 15, 1890 (Torquay, Devon, England) - Jan. 12, 1976 (Wallingford, Oxfordshire)]

£6 Prestige Booklet
March 19, 1991


Scott BK155
Stanley Gibbons DX12
(label only, no Agatha Christie stamp)


Post Office publicity: thanks to Nicola Malavasi!

 
Agatha Christie
Antigua & Barbuda
Central African Republic
Dominica
Great Britain - 1990
Great Britain - 1991
Great Britain - 2016
Guernsey
Guinea
Isle of Man - 2003
Isle of Man - 2006
Nicaragua
Sierra Leone
Solomon Islands
Somali Republic
Uganda

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

The complete booklet (SG DX12):

 

 

Known affectionately as the Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie is the world's most popular author with seventy-eight murder mysteries, six other novels, four works of non-fiction and twenty plays to her credit. Her books have sold over two billion copies in sixty-four languages. Only the Bible and the Koran exceed these figures.
Agatha Christie wrote in her autobiography 'What I want to do is plunge my hand into a lucky dip and come up with a handful of memories.' This commemorative stampbook echoes these words with a handful of clues to her life and books.

 
The Mysterious Affair
at STYLES

CHAPTER 1

ON CHRISTMAS EVE in the first year of the First World War, Miss Agatha Miller married Captain Archibald Christie of the Royal Flying Corps. While he was serving in France, his wife worked for much of the war in a hospital dispensary.
It was here that she conceived the idea for The Mysterious Affair at Styles, the first Agatha Christie mystery. Her autobiography states 'since I was surrounded by poisons, perhaps it was natural that death by poisoning should be the method I selected.' Her choice of detective, Hercule Poirot, came about because 'We had quite a colony of Belgian refugees ... How about a refugee police officer? A retired police officer.

 
CURTAIN

Hercule Poirot 'died' twice, once in 1940 and again thirty-five years later.
In the Second World War during the Blitz, Agatha Christie wrote Curtain: Poirot's Last Case. A copy of the manuscript was sent to the USA for safekeeping. 'This was in anticipation of my being killed in the raids.'
Poirot proved to be as popular as ever after the war. Numerous other mysteries concerning the detective were eagerly bought by readers in the years that followed.
Only in 1975 was Curtain published. Towards the end of the novel, the great detective dies leaving a sealed envelope addressed to his 'Watson', Captain Hastings, containing the solution to the case. 'We shall not hunt together again, my friend. Our first hunt was here - and our last.'
Agatha used the same large mansion as in The Mysterious Affair at Styles, now converted into a guest house. The aged Poirot, 'twirling a dyed moustache, puts his grey cells to work while seated in a wheelchair.'
The death of the world's most famous Belgian made an extraordinary impact. Among many obituaries was one with a photograph on the front page of the New York Times.

 

Scott #1263b, booklet pane of 6, perf 15×14
Amended First Floor Plan of 'Styles'

 
MURDER at the VICARAGE

Murder at the Vicarage is set in the village of St Mary's Mead and in it the redoubtable Jane Marple makes her first appearance. Her deductions are based on character observations, often linked to the behaviour of the inhabitants of the village. Agatha Christie said of Miss Marple: 'she was far more fussy and spinsterish than my grandmother ever was. But one thing she did have in common with her - though a cheerful person, she always expected the worst of everyone and everything, and was, with almost frightening accuracy, usually proved right.'

 
MURDER on the ORIENT EXPRESS

IN Murder on the Orient Express, the train is stuck conveniently in a snow drift while Poirot solves the mystery of an American passenger found dead with numerous stab wounds. The setting stems from Agatha Christie's own experiences. She was delayed on the express by floods and reduced to iron rations - sharing chocolate and biscuits with fellow passengers: 'a large jocose Italian, a little German with a bald head, a Bulgarian lady, a thin and a terrible man from Chicago ... dressed in an orange suit, lots of gold chains and things, and a royal blue satin tie with horse shoes on it.' Agatha journeyed frequently on the Orient Express to and from Baghdad with her second husband Max Mallowan, the well-known archaeologist, later to be knighted, who excavated several important sites in the Middle East.

 

Scott #1265b, booklet pane of 9, perf 15×14

 
The Man in the Brown Suit

MAJOR E.A. BELCHER helped promote the 1924 Empire Exhibition and was described by Agatha as possessing tremendous powers of bluff. He persuaded her first husband to become his financial adviser on a Mission to the Dominions. Agatha was included in the invitation. Ten months of travelling first class gave her plenty of time to study the Major at close quarters. She found that when in a bad temper he swelled up like a turkey-cock. When in a good temper he told lion stories.
He eventually turned up as Sir Eustace Pedler in The Man in the Brown Suit. 'He too was a master of the art of bluff, and behind the bluff could easily be sensed an unscrupulous and interesting character.' The ship in which the Mission sailed to South Africa also turned up as a clue, spelt Kilmorden instead of Kildonan Castle.

 
The Harrogate Hotel Mystery

For 10 days in December 1926, Agatha Christie became headline news in a real-life mystery. She vanished after crashing her Morris motor car. Massive police searches failed to trace her whereabouts, and the newspaper investigations rivalled those of today's tabloids in their fancifulness if not their scatological detail. Agatha was eventually traced to the Hydropathic Hotel in Harrogate. She had lost her memory. The hotel register showed she had used an assumed name. Confusingly, she also placed a classified advertisment in The Times requesting that friends and relatives make contact. The assumed surname she adopted was identical with that of the woman loved by her husband, Archibald Christie. Some months after the incident he and Agatha separated.

 

Scott #1272a, booklet pane of 6 22p, 2 33p, and label, perf 15×14 / SG X1016m

 
THE MOUSETRAP

In a sense, Queen Mary was the inspiration for the world's longest running play, The Mousetrap. She was asked by the BBC how her eightieth birthday might best be celebrated on radio. The Queen, an avid fan of Agatha's, requested that something by Miss Christie should be broadcast. Agatha was attracted by the idea and wrote what she described as 'the little radio sketch called Three Blind Mice. As far as I know Queen Mary was pleased with it.' The world was also pleased with it after the radio play, broadcast on 26 May 1947, was adapted into the stage version. By 1974 when the author was awarded the DBE and became Dame Agatha Christie, The Mousetrap had already been in the West End for twenty two years.

 
Giant's Bread

A close friend of Agatha Christie, Nan Kon, questioned her after finishing Giant's Bread, a romantic novel by the then unknown author Mary Westmacott. 'I read a book I liked very much the other day; now let me see - what was it? Dwarf's Blood - that's it - Dwarf's Blood!' From a phrase about children and a poem in the book, she deduced, correctly, that Agatha had written the novel.
Other clues to the author's personality and experiences are contained in Giant's Bread. Like Agatha, the hero, a talented composer, loses his memory, in his case while fighting in the trenches of the First World War. A constant theme of the book is the struggle within him between the desire for the freedom to compose and the ties of love.
In her youth Agatha had musical ambitions. She wrote a waltz which was published and was advised that her soprano voice was good enough for concert singing but not strong enough for opera.

 

Scott #1263b, booklet pane of 6, perf 15×14

New generations have come to appreciate the whodunit skills of Agatha Christie since her death in 1976. Television adaptations of the Miss Marple and Poirot books have achieved critical acclaim as well as popular success. The crime novels themselves remain best sellers. On stage, The Mousetrap runs and runs and runs.

 
CRIME FILE

Subject: Agatha Christie
Born: 1890
Died: 1976
Remarks:

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Designed by Trickett and Webb Limited.

Written by Neil Mattingley.

Illustrations by Tony McSweeney.

Inside front cover photograph by Angus McBean/ Harvard Theatre Library.

Newspapers reproduced by kind permission of the Daily Mail and The Times.

The Mousetrap illustration from Those Radio Times published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson.

Printed at the House of Questa Limited.

Stamp designs © Royal Mail Stamps 1991

 
TRACE THE ALIAS COMPETITION
(details overleaf)

Runner-up prizes: Two sets of reproduction first edition Agatha Christie hardbacks

CONDITIONS OF ENTRY

All entries must be sent on a postcard to PO Box No 190, Edinburgh, EH3 5TS no later than 18 May 1991.
Entries should be marked 'Alias Agatha Christie Prize Competition' and include the name and address of the entrant.

The draw will be made at the British Philatelic Bureau on 31 May 1991. The first correct entry to be drawn will win a Paris trip for two people on the Venice Simplon-Orient Express. No cash alternatives will be offered.

A further two runner-up prizes of reproductions of original Agatha Crhistie hardbacks will be awarded and ten consolation prizes of five Agatha Christie paperbacks, all donated by HarperCollins.

All prize winners will be contacted direct by Royal Mail Stamps and a full list of prize winners will be available in June 1991. For a copy write to:

Alias Agatha Christie Prize Competition Results
British Philatelic Bureau
20 Brandon Street, Edinburgh EH3 5TT

The draw is not open to staff of Royal Mail Stamps, their agents or their families.

 
TRACE THE ALIAS COMPETITION
Win two tickets for Paris on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express

TRACE THE ALIAS
Here's your chance to experience all the romance, elegance and legendary luxury of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express en route to the world's most glamorous city - Paris.
Take the first step by entering the Alias Agatha Christie Competition.
The first correct entry in a prize draw is the winner.
Your carriage awaits.

HOW TO ENTER
Five of the titles, pseudonyms and other names used by Agatha Christie are to be found in the pages of this stamp book.
List the five in any order on a plain postcard.
Then add the year and West End theatre in which The Mousetrap first appeared.
Finally write down your own name and address in CAPITAL LETTERS on the same postcard.
Mail your completed entry card to:
Alias Agatha Christie Prize Competition
PO Box 190, Edinburgh EH3 5TS
Closing dates for entries 18 May 1991

FIRST PRIZE
Take the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express for three nights and two days in Paris, flying back to Heathrow.

TWO RUNNER-UP PRIZES
Six reproductions of first edition Agatha Christie hardbacks.*

TEN CONSOLATION PRIZES
Set of five Agatha Christie paperbacks.*

*Donated by HarperCollins


first day covers

postmarks

with thanks to Nicola Malavasi for some of these images!