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Lot #431
Agatha Christie Archive of (14) Letters

Delightful letter archive from one of the world's most celebrated fiction writers

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Estimate: $5000+
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Delightful letter archive from one of the world's most celebrated fiction writers

Archive of 14 letters and greeting cards sent by esteemed English writer Agatha Christie to noted art restorer and conservator Carroll Snow Wales, whom the author had met when her husband, prominent British archeologist Max Mallowan, collaborated with Wales on a 1957 excavation in Nimrud, Iraq. Christie and Wales became good friends and remained in touch for the remainder of their lives, often sending each other warm greetings on their shared birthdate—they were both born on September 15th, with Christie 27 years his senior.

Dating between 1962 and 1972, the correspondence contains 11 ALSs, one ANS, one TLS, and one signed greeting card, with Christie signing off either as “Agatha,” “Agatha Mallowan,” “Max & Agatha,” or “Agatha and Max Mallowan.” The letters are addressed from Greenway House (Churston Ferrers, South Devon), 48 Swan Court (Chelsea Manor Street, London), and, the majority, Winterbrook House (Wallingford, Berkshire).

While much of the letter content consists of pleasantries, planned visits, and reciprocated birthday and holiday wishes, Christie includes other fascinating bits related to her friends, health, exotic travels, and final publications. Highlights include:

September 15th, no year: “We’ve finally come back from a Hellenic cruise. Went to Ephesus—but not Istanbul. Very great fun, but exceedingly hot. I nearly melted!”

January 19, 1962: “We have been in India & Persia & only recently got back.”

November 9, 1968: “Computers gone mad seem at the bottom of a lot of our troubles resulting in electrical bills of several thousand pounds a quarter—and the things that happen to callers you wouldn’t believe! As for gas from the North Sea, it appears to paralyze any household—if it doesn’t explode straight away. The ways of progress are very hard.”

September 10, 1969: “I still have pleasant memories of our dinner with you in Boston!…David and Joan Oates are back from Baghdad…& David takes up his chair at the Institute this Autumn.” From 1955 to 1962, archaeologist David Oates worked on Max Mallowan's excavation of Nimrud; Oates was director of the excavation from 1958.

September 7, 1970: “I am celebrating my 80th birthday and also having my 80th book published on the same day—quite fun in a way! But too many journalists flocking around.” The work in question was the spy novel Passenger to Frankfurt. It was published to mark Christie's eightieth birthday and, by counting up both UK and US short-story collections to reach the desired total, was also advertised as her eightieth book.

July 16, 1971: “My false hip is settling down nicely and I am beginning to have many footsteps supported by sticks. Makes me laugh to think of you reading The Mousetrap in Greek,—what splendid erudition.” Christie's stage play The Mousetrap holds the world record for the longest initial run of any play in history. The Mousetrap opened in London's West End in 1952 and ran continuously until March 16, 2020, when the stage performances had to be temporarily discontinued during the COVID-19 pandemic. It then re-opened on May 17, 2021.

April 28, 1972: “I have a meeting in London on the 23rd May judging a ‘Times’ Detective Story Competition.”

Also included with the archive is a handwritten letter from Max Mallowan, five vintage photos of Christie and Mallowan from one of their archeological trips, three vintage photos of Christie posing with Wales in her garden, and an original ‘In Memoriam’ program celebrating the life of Agatha Christie Mallowan. In overall fine condition. Accompanied by a notarized letter of provenance from Philip Wright, a close friend of Wales, who was given this archive prior to the latter’s passing in 2007.

Given how Christie remains uncommon across all signed formats, this splendid decade-long correspondence should be considered something of an event and is likewise a must-have for the serious fiction aficionado—a great celebration of the beloved mystery detective novelist, written at the twilight of her prolific writing career. Christie remains the best-selling fiction writer of all time, her novels having sold more than two billion copies.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autograph and Artifacts, Ft. Animation
  • Dates: #637 - Ended June 15, 2022