Montreal museum pays homage to 'Queen of Crime' Agatha Christie

MONTREAL -- Agatha Christie didn't much care for Montreal's weather when she visited in 1922, saving kinder words for British Columbia's beautiful Sequoia trees.

See Full Article

But despite her less-than-glowing endorsement, Montreal's Pointe-a-Calliere museum is paying homage to the so-called "Queen of Crime" with an exhibit that is as much about the English novelist's life as her best-selling whodunits.

Much of it is devoted to the many years Christie spent on archeological dig sites in the Middle East with her second husband, Max Mallowan, including one when she famously used a jar of face cream to clean precious ivory artifacts.

Christie's time in the region inspired some of her most popular mysteries, including "Murder on the Orient Express," "Murder in Mesopotamia" and "Death on the Nile."

According to musem project manager Elisabeth Monast Moreau, the exhibit seeks to make links between Christie's adventurous life and her published work, which includes 66 mysteries, 150 short stories, 18 plays and two memoirs.

"You realize how much she put of herself and of her life in her books," Monast Moreau said. "It was definitely one of her tricks to captivate people, and it was really the main source of inspiration to her."

The exhibit, which runs until April 17, 2016, brings together photos, documents, artifacts, household items and Christie's notebooks to reveal interesting tidbits about her life.

She was born to a well-off family in Devon in 1890 (she died in 1976 aged 85) and began writing poetry by age 10. But although she loved reading and writing, Christie dreamed as a child of becoming an opera singer.

Christie worked as a volunteer nurse during the First World War, training as an assistant apothecary and learning the properties of various poisons. She would put this knowledge to use in her novels, where some 30 characters would be poisoned to death.

Christie was also well-travelled for a woman of her era, notably touring the British dominions, including Canada, with her first husband, Archie Christie, in 1922.

In 1928, the newly divorced author took the first of her many rides on the Orient Express train to Baghdad, in what is now Iraq. Christie had always been fascinated by archeology and decided to travel by herself to visit the dig site in Ur. She met Mallowan, an assistant archeologist 14 years her junior, on her second visit to the site.

The museum exhibit contains many items from Christie's years spent with Mallowan on various dig sites in the Middle East, where she became an important part of the team. In addition to financing many of the ventures, Christie became the official photographer and videographer and helped to clean and catalogue the treasures.

Christie's grandson, Mathew Prichard, said the exhibit shows a lesser-known side of his grandmother, who is best known for creating the Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple characters.

"Many people know her novels but they don't realize the length and depth of her whole life," Prichard said in a phone interview.

He remembers Christie as a "normal, loving grandmother" who described herself as a wife rather than an author when she was asked on passport applications to list her profession.

He said that when touring the exhibit, he was struck by a certain photo of a dig site in Iraq. It shows Christie, in a white dress and hat, sitting cross-legged next to Mallowan, the two of them surrounded by 180 local men employed at the site.

Prichard said the photo shows Christie's ability to connect with people of all walks of life -- a key reason he believes her books are still popular 40 years after her death.

"She had a naturalness and friendliness with people that came over, whoever you were," he said. "It didn't just apply to her family or to British people. She was like that with everybody and I think that's why her books have lasted so long, because they are so natural and instinctive."

IF YOU GO:

"Investigating Agatha Christie" runs until April 17, 2016, at the Pointe-a-Calliere museum in Old Montreal. Visit www.pacmusee.qc.ca/en/ for ticket information.



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • Justin Bieber swears he didn't actually pee his pants

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Justin Bieber has assured fans he didn’t soil himself after he was pictured with a wet patch on his trousers on Wednesday. The Sorry singer was snapped while stepping out in West Hollywood on Wednesday and many fans noticed he had a wet patch in the crotch of his grey sweatpants. Source
  • What it's like to be a seat filler at the Oscars

    Entertainment CTV News
    TORONTO -- Mark Chiolis has been to the Oscars four times and has sat as close as fourth row. He's had better seats than some major film creators and stars, and yet, he is neither of those. Source
  • Fans in Japan rush to get Murakami book with esoteric title

    Entertainment CTV News
    TOKYO -- Fans of Haruki Murakami rushed to Japanese bookstores Friday to get his latest work with an esoteric title. "Kishidancho Goroshi," or "Killing Commendatore," is a two-part story about a 36-year-old portrait painter and what happens after his wife divorces him and he moves into an old house on a mountainside west of Tokyo. Source
  • Movie reviews: Psychodrama 'Get Out' an original look at societal ills

    Entertainment CTV News
    GET OUT: 4 STARS Funnyman Jordan Peele isn’t the first name you think of when you think of horror, but his new movie, “Get Out,” might change that. The “Key & Peele” star has dropped the satire that made his name in favour of scares. Source
  • Google Oscar trends: Canadians gaga for Gosling in 'La La Land'

    Entertainment CTV News
    Canadians watching the Oscar race this year have been preoccupied with questions about Ryan Gosling and "La La Land," according to Google's latest search data. The search engine provider has released a slew of data on Oscar-related trends, which show there is strong interest in Best Picture nominees "La La Land," "Moonlight," "Hidden Figures" and “Manchester By The Sea. Source
  • Wolverine/Deadpool film not happening: Hugh Jackman

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Hugh Jackman has shot down Ryan Reynolds’ hopes of bringing the Australian actor out of retirement as Wolverine to star in a future Deadpool movie. The Les Miserables star has long insisted his forthcoming outing as Wolverine in Logan will be his final film as the X-Men character, but Reynolds refused to listen and has continued to campaign for a big screen reunion between the clawed superhero and his masked Deadpool, after appearing together in 2009’s critical flop X-Men Origins:…
  • 'I was shocked to learn I wasn't circumcised': Patrick Stewart

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Sir Patrick Stewart was unaware he wasn’t circumcised until his wife pointed it out to him. The X-Men star was having an intimate discussion with Sunny Ozell about his circumcision when she bluntly informed him he had never undergone the painful procedure, normally performed at birth. Source
  • How this adorable Toronto-area dance trio got on Ellen

    Entertainment CBC News
    They busted a move in a special video, attempting to win over Ellen DeGeneres and find a way onto her show. It worked. In the original video, three Toronto-area girls, aged just eight, nine and 10, dressed up as Ellen and mimicked some of her moves. Source
  • Toronto Raptors' Patrick Patterson makes his Oscar predictions

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    When the Toronto Raptors square off against the Portland Trail Blazers Sunday night, power forward – and avowed movie buff – Patrick Patterson is going to have someone near the bench filling him in on the Oscars. Source
  • Pregnant Beyonce pulls out of Coachella

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Pregnant superstar Beyonce has pulled out of plans to perform at this year’s Coachella festival in California, citing doctor’s orders. The Formation hitmaker recently revealed she was expecting twins, just weeks after she was announced as a headliner for the music extravaganza, which takes place over two consecutive weekends in April. Source