The Mystery of a Messy Agatha Christie notebook

Posted on April 17, 2010

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I find the process of writing interesting. I love to ask writing about their writing process.

It is good to know that writers can be as messy as I am. This is a great story from Slate about the new book about her writing diaries:

The contents of the notebooks are as multi-dimensional as their Escher-like structure. They include fully worked-out scenes, historical background, lists of character names, rough maps of imaginary places, stage settings, an idle rebus (the numeral three, a crossed-out eye, and a mouse), and plot ideas that will be recognizable to any Christie fan: “Poirot asks to go down to country—finds a house and various fantastic details,” “Saves her life several times,” “Inquire enquire—both in same letter.” What’s more, in between ominous scraps like “Stabbed through eye with hatpin” and “influenza depression virus—Stolen? Cabinet Minister?” are grocery lists: “Newspapers, toilet paper, salt, pepper …” There was no clean line between Christie’s work life and her family life. She created household ledgers, and scribbled notes to self. (“All away weekend—can we go Thursday Nan.”) Even Christie’s second husband, the archeologist Sir Max Mallowan, used her notebooks. He jotted down calculations. Christie’s daughter Rosalind practiced penmanship, and the whole family kept track of their bridge scores alongside notes like, “Possibilities of poison … cyanide in strawberry … coniine—in capsule?”

And somehow, she got books published. The book is on sale now. The book is called: Agatha Christie’s Secret Notebooks. Hopefully, they have it on the Kindle and I can read it on the iPad.

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Posted in: Books