Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, Lady Mallowan, DBE was an English crime novelist, short story writer and playwright. She is best known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections, particularly those revolving around her fictional detectives Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. She also wrote the world's longest-running play, a murder mystery, The Mousetrap, and six romances under the name Mary Westmacott. In 1971 she was made a Dame for her contribution to literature.
Christie was born into a wealthy upper-middle-class family in Torquay, Devon. She served in a hospital during the First World War before marrying and starting a family in London. She was initially an unsuccessful writer, but The Mysterious Affair at Styles was published in 1920 featuring Hercule Poirot.
Guinness World Records lists Christie as the best-selling novelist of all time. Her novels have sold roughly 2 billion copies, and her estate claims that her works come third in the rankings of the world's most-widely published books, behind only Shakespeare's works and the Bible. According to Index Translationum, she remains the most-translated individual author – having been translated into at least 103 languages. And Then There Were None is Christie's best-selling novel, with 100 million sales to date, making it the world's best-selling mystery ever, and one of the best-selling books of all time.
Christie's stage play The Mousetrap holds the record for the longest initial run: it opened at the Ambassadors Theatre in the West End on 25 November 1952 and as of 2016 is still running after more than 25,000 performances. In 1955 Christie was the first recipient of the Mystery Writers of America's highest honour, the Grand Master Award. Later the same year, Witness for the Prosecution received an Edgar Award by the MWA for Best Play.
In 2013, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was voted the best crime novel ever by 600 fellow writers of the Crime Writers' Association.On 15 September 2015, coinciding with Christie's 125th birthday, And Then There Were None was voted as the "World's Favourite Christie", followed closely by Murder on the Orient Express and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Most of her books and short stories have been adapted for television, radio, video games and comics, and more than thirty feature films have been based on her work.