Agatha Christie

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I don't think necessity is the mother of invention — invention, in my opinion, arises directly from idleness, possibly also from laziness. To save oneself trouble.

Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie (September 15, 1890January 12, 1976) was an English author of detective fiction.


I have given them life instead of death, freedom instead of the cords of superstition, beauty and truth instead of corruption and exploitation.
  • I have given them life instead of death, freedom instead of the cords of superstition, beauty and truth instead of corruption and exploitation. The old bad days are over for them, the Light of the Aton has risen, and they can dwell in peace and harmony freed from the shadow of fear and oppression.
    • Akhenaten, as portrayed in Akhnaton (1937); Christie later revised the play slightly in 1972, and it was published in 1973.
  • An archaeologist is the best husband any woman can have; the older she gets, the more interested he is in her.
    • Christie denied having made this remark, which had been attributed to her by her second husband Sir Max Mallowan in a news report (1954-03-09)
    • According to Nigel Dennis, "Genteel Queen of Crime: Agatha Christie Puts Her Zest for Life Into Murder", Life, Volume 40, N° 20, 14 May 1956, she was quoting "a witty wife".
  • Oh dear, I never realized what a terrible lot of explaining one has to do in a murder!
  • I specialize in murders of quiet, domestic interest.
  • It is ridiculous to set a detective story in New York City. New York City is itself a detective story.
    • Life magazine (1956-05-14).
    • This is in fact something an admirer said, which Christie quoted with disapproval (p. 98).

The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920)[edit]

This is the first story featuring "Hercule Poirot".
  • The intense interest aroused in the public by what was known at the time as "The Styles Case" has now somewhat subsided. Nevertheless, in view of the world-wide notoriety which attended it, I have been asked, both by my friend Poirot and the family themselves, to write an account of the whole story. This, we trust, will effectually silence the sensational rumours which still persist.
  • Every murderer is probably somebody’s old friend.
    • Hercule Poirot.
  • I am not keeping back facts. Every fact that I know is in your possession. You can draw your own deductions from them.
    • Hercule Poirot.
  • "This affair must all be unravelled from within." He tapped his forehead. "These little grey cells. It is 'up to them' — as you say over here."
    • Hercule Poirot.
  • I did not deceive you, mon ami. At most, I permitted you to deceive yourself.
    • Hercule Poirot.
  • "Nothing", I said sadly. "They are two delightful women!" "And neither of them is for you?" finished Poirot. "Never mind. Console yourself, my friend. We may hunt together again, who knows?"

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926)[edit]

  • Understand this, I mean to arrive at the truth. The truth, however ugly in itself, is always curious and beautiful to seekers after it.
    • Hercule Poirot.
  • I have no pity for myself either. So let it be veronal. But I wish Hercule Poirot had never retired from work and come here to grow vegetable marrows.
    • Doctor Sheppard.

The Mystery of the Blue Train (1928)[edit]

  • "Eh bien, Mademoiselle, all through my life I have observed one thing — 'All one wants one gets!' Who knows?" His face screwed itself up comically. "You may get more than you bargain for."
    • Hercule Poirot.
  • I do not argue with obstinate men. I act in spite of them.
    • Hercule Poirot.
  • “You have been to the Riviera before, Georges?” said Poirot to his valet the following morning.
    George was an intensely English, rather wooden-faced individual.
    “Yes, sir. I was here two years ago when I was in the service of Lord Edward Frampton.”
    “And to-day,” murmured his master, “you are here with Hercule Poirot. How one mounts in the world!”
  • Men are foolish, are they not, Mademoiselle? To eat, to drink, to breathe the good air, it is a very pleasant thing, Mademoiselle. One is foolish to leave all that simply because one has no money — or because the heart aches. L´amour, it causes many fatalities, does it not?
    • Hercule Poirot.
  • I was wrong about that young man of yours. A man when he is making up to anybody can be cordial and gallant and full of little attentions and altogether charming. But when a man is really in love he can't help looking like a sheep. Now, whenever that young man looked at you he looked like a sheep. I take back all I said this morning. It is genuine.
    • Miss Viner.
  • "I saw a particular personage and I threatened him — yes, Mademoiselle, I, Hercule Poirot, threatened him."
    "With the police?"
    "No," said Poirot drily, "With the Press — a much more deadly weapon."
  • "Life is like a train Mademoiselle. It goes on. And it is a good thing that that is so."
    "Because the train gets to its journey's end at last, and there is a proverb about that in your language, Mademoiselle."
    "'Journeys end in lovers meeting'" Lenox laughed. "That is not going to be true for me."
    "Yes — yes, it is true. You are young, younger than you yourself know. Trust the train Mademoiselle, for it is le bon Dieu who drives it".

Peril at End House (1932)[edit]

  • I like to inquire into everything. Hercule Poirot is a good dog. The good dog follows the scent, and if, regrettably, there is no scent to follow, he noses around — seeking always something that is not very nice.
    • Hercule Poirot

Murder on the Orient Express (1934)[edit]

  • The impossible could not have happened, therefore the impossible must be possible in spite of appearances.
    • Hercule Poirot.
  • Exactly! It is absurd — improbable — it cannot be. So I myself have said. And yet, my friend, there it is! one cannot escape from the facts.
    • Hercule Poirot

The ABC Murders (1936)[edit]

  • Crime is terribly revealing. Try and vary your methods as you will, your tastes, your habits, your attitude of mind, and your soul is revealed by your actions.

Murder in Mesopotamia (1936)[edit]

  • I don't pretend to be an author or to know anything about writing. I'm doing this simply because Dr Reilly asked me to, and somehow when Dr Reilly asks you to do a thing you don't like to refuse.
    • Amy Leatheran.
  • That was the worst of Dr Reilly. You never knew whether he was joking or not. He always said things in the same slow melancholy way — but half the time there was a twinkle underneath it.
    • Amy Leatheran.
  • Believe me, nurse, the difficulty of beginning will be nothing to the difficulty of knowing how to stop. At least that's the way it is with me when I have to make a speech. Someone's got to catch hold of my coat-tails and pull me down by main force.
    • Dr Reilly.
  • God bless my soul, woman, the more personal you are the better! This is a story of human beings — not dummies! Be personal — be prejudiced — be catty — be anything you please! Write the thing your own way. We can always prune out the bits that are libellous afterwards!
    • Dr Reilly.
  • I don't think I shall ever forget my first sight of Hercule Poirot. Of course, I got used to him later on, but to begin with it was a shock, and I think everyone else must have felt the same! I don't know what I'd imagined — something like Sherlock Holmes — [...] Of course, I knew he was a foreigner, but I hadn't expected him to be quite as foreign as he was, if you know what I mean. When you saw him you just wanted to laugh! He was like something on the stage or at the pictures. [...] He looked like a hairdresser in a comic play!
    • Amy Leatheran.
  • I felt that the murderer was in the room. Sitting with us-listening. one of us
    • Amy Leatheran.
  • Oh, dear, it's quite true what Dr. Reilly said. How does one stop writing? If I could find a really good telling phrase... Like the one M. Poirot used. In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate... Something like that.
    • Amy Leatheran.

Death on the Nile (1937)[edit]

  • Once I went professionally to an archaeological expedition--and I learnt something there. In the course of an excavation, when something comes up out of the ground, everything is cleared away very carefully all around it. You take away the loose earth, and you scrape here and there with a knife until finally your object is there, all alone, ready to be drawn and photographed with no extraneous matter confusing it. That is what I have been seeking to do--clear away the extraneous matter so that we can see the truth--the naked shining truth.
    • Hercule Poirot.
  • And Mr. Burnaby said acutely: "Well, it doesn't seem to have done her much good, poor lass." But after a while they stopped talking about her and discussed instead who was going to win the Grand National. For, as Mr. Ferguson was saying at that minute in Luxor, it is not the past that matters but the future.

Sad Cypress (1940)[edit]

  • Elinor was still staring at this missive, her plucked brows drawn together in distaste, when the door opened. The maid announced, "Mr Welman," and Roddy came in.

Roddy! As always when she saw Roddy, Elinor was conscious of a slightly giddy feeling, a throb of sudden pleasure, a feeling that it was incumbent upon her to be very matter-of-fact and unemotional. Because it was so very obvious that Roddy, although he loved her, didn't feel about her the way she felt about him. The first sight of him did something to her, twisted her heart round so that it almost hurt. Absurd that a man - an ordinary, yes, a perfectly ordinary young man - should be able to do that to one! That the mere look of him should set the world spinning, that his voice should make you want - just a little - to cry. Love surely should be a pleasurable emotion - not something that hurt you by its intensity. One thing was clear: one must be very, very careful to be off-hand and casual about it all. Men didn't like devotion and adoration. Certainly Roddy didn't.

Towards Zero (1944)[edit]

  • Last time I had my hands on you, you felt like a bird - struggling to escape. You'll never escape now...
    • MacWhirter

Death Comes as the End (1945)[edit]

  • Because, Renisenb, it is so easy and it costs so little labour to write down ten bushels of barley, or a hundred head of cattle, or ten fields of spelt - and the thing that is written will come to seem like the real thing, and so the writer and the scribe will come to despise the man who ploughs the fields and reaps the barley and raises the cattle - but all the same the fields and the cattle are real - they are not just marks of inks on papyrus. And when all the records and all the papyrus rolls are destroyed and the scribes are scattered, the men who toil and reap will go on, and Egypt will still live.
    • Hori.
  • "You know that in all tombs there is always a false door?"
    Renisenb stared. "Yes, of course."
    "Well, people are like that too. They create a false door - to deceive. If they are conscious of weakness, of inefficiency, they make an imposing door of self-assertion, of bluster, of overwhelming authority - and, after a time, they get to believe in it themselves. They think, and everybody thinks, that they are like that. But behind that door, Renisenb, is a bare rock … And so when reality comes and touches them with the feather of truth - their true self reasserts itself."
  • "It is the kind of thing that happens to you when you are stupid," said Esa. "Things go entirely differently from the way you planned them."
  • Courage is the resolution to face the unforeseen.
  • Fear is incomplete knowledge.
  • The rottenness comes from within.
  • Let us think only of the good days that are to come.
  • It's as easy to utter lies as truth.
  • Men are made fools by the gleaming limbs of women, and, lo, in a minute they are become discolored carnelians. A trifle, a little, the likeness of a dream. And death comes as the end.
  • Proof must be solid break walls of facts.
  • Handsome, strong, gay … She felt again the thro and lilt of her blood. She had loved Kameni in that moment. She loved him now. Kameni could take the place that Khay had held in her life. She thought: "We shall be happy together - yes, we shall be happy. We shall live together and take pleasure in each other and we shall have strong, handsome children. There will be busy days full of work … and days of pleasure when we sail on the River...Life will be again as I knew it with Khay...What could I ask more than that? What do I want more than that?"
  • When you were a child, I loved you. I loved your grave face and the confidence with which you came to me, asking me to mend your broken toys. And then, after eight years' absence, you came again and sat here, and brought me the thoughts that were in your mind. And your mind, Renisenb, is not like the minds of the rest of your family. It does not turn in upon itself, seeking to encase itself in narrow walls. Your mind is like my mind, it looks over the River, seeing a world of changes, of new ideas - seeing a world where all things are possible to those with courage and vision...
    • Hori.
  • She broke off, unable to find words to frame her struggling thoughts. What life would be with Hori, she did not know. In spite of his gentleness, in spite of his love for her, he would remain in some respects incalculable and incomprehensible. They would share moments of great beauty and richness together - but what of their common daily life?
  • "I have made my choice, Hori. I will share my life with you for good or evil, until death comes..." With his arms round her, with the sudden new sweetness of his face against hers, she was filled with an exultant richness of living.

The Hollow (1946)[edit]

  • I must have a talk with you, David, and learn all the new ideas. As far as I can see, one must hate everybody but at the same time give them free medical attention and a lot of extra education, poor things! All those helpless little children herded into schoolhouses every day—and cod liver oil forced down babies’ throats whether they like it or not—such nasty-smelling stuff.
    • Lucy Angkatell
  • John, forgive me... for what I can't help doing.
    • Henrietta Savernake.
  • And if you cast down an idol, there's nothing left.
    • Henrietta Savernake.

After the Funeral (1953)[edit]

  • What any woman saw in some particular man was beyond the comprehension of the average intelligent male. It just was so. A woman who could be intelligent about everything else in the world could be a complete fool when it came to some particular man.
  • Any medical man who predicts exactly when a patient will die, or exactly how long he will live, is bound to make a fool of himself. The human factor is always incalculable. The weak have often unexpected powers of resistance, the strong sometimes succumb.
  • There were to be no short cuts to the truth. Instead he would have to adopt a longer, but a reasonably sure method. There would have to be conversation. Much conversation. For in the long run, either through a lie, or through truth, people were bound to give themselves away...
  • How averse human beings were ever to admit ignorance!
  • Men always tell such silly lies.
  • It shows you, Madame, the dangers of conversation. It is a profound belief of mine that if you can induce a person to talk to you for long enough, on any subject whatever, sooner or later they will give themselves away.

A Pocket Full of Rye (1953)[edit]

  • The tear rose in Miss Marple's eyes. Succeeding pity, there came anger - anger against a heartless killer. And then, displacing both these emotions, there came a surge of triumph - the triumph some specialist might feel who has successfully reconstructed an extinct animal from a fragment of jawbone and a couple of teeth.

Dead Man's Folly (1956)[edit]

  • I can imagine anything! That's the trouble with me. I can imagine things now — this minute. I could even make them sound all right, but of course none of them would be true.
    • Ariadne Oliver.
  • It would be difficult Bland thought, to forget Hercule Poirot, and this not entirely for complimentary reasons.

A Caribbean Mystery (1964)[edit]

  • I have a certain experience of the way people tell lies.

At Bertram's Hotel (1965)[edit]

  • "Well", said Miss Marple. "Are you going to let her get away with it?" There was a pause, then Father brought down his fist with a crash on the table. "No", he roared - "No, by God I'm not!" Miss Marple nodded her head slowly and gravely. "May God have mercy on her soul," she said.

Endless Night (1967)[edit]

  • In my end is my beginning - that's what people are always saying. But what does it mean? And just where does my story begin? I must try and think...
    • Michael Rogers (the narrator).

Curtain - Poirot's Last Case (1975)[edit]

  • Who is there who has not felt a sudden startled pang at reliving an old experience or feeling an old emotion?
  • This, Hastings, will be my last case. It will be, too, my most interesting case — and my most interesting criminal.
    • Hercule Poirot.
  • I have no more now to say. I do not know, Hastings, if what I have done is justified or not justified. No — I do not know. I do not believe that a man should take the law into his own hands... But on the other hand, I am the law! As a young man in the Belgian police force I shot down a desperate criminal who sat on a roof and fired at people below. In a state of emergency martial law is proclaimed.
  • I have always been so sure — too sure... But now I am very humble and I say like a little child: "I do not know..." ~ Hercule Poirot.
  • We shall not hunt together again, my friend. Our first hunt was here - and our last … They were good days, Yes, they have been good days...
    • Hercule Poirot.

An Autobiography (1977)[edit]

  • I like living. I have sometimes been wildly despairing, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.
    • Foreword.
  • I don't think necessity is the mother of invention — invention, in my opinion, arises directly from idleness, possibly also from laziness. To save oneself trouble.
    • Part III: Growing Up. Section II.

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