Agatha Christie & Epilepsy

One of the World's Most Prolific Writers Was Epileptic

Agatha Christie
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Agatha Christie is one of the most successful crime novelists and playwrights to emerge during the 20th century. Born Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller on September 15, 1890 in Torquay, a seaside town in Devon, England, Christie grew up in a wealthy family and was an avid reader from an early age.

She already had a husband and a family by the time she started writing original work, and went on to become a prolific mystery novelist, playwright and writer of numerous short stories.

Her second book ever, "The Secret Adversary," introduce some of her most beloved characters of all time: a duo, Tommy and Tuppence. Other popular characters include Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple.

Christie's best known play is "The Mousetrap," which is the longest-running play in the world. Some argue her best novel is "Murder on the Orient Express." Over the course of her career, Christie wrote more than 70 novels, dozens of short stores and numerous plays that appeared on London's infamous West End.

More than 30 of her murder mystery novels have been turned into films, including "Witness for the Prosecution" (1957), "Murder on the Orient Express" (1974) and "Death on the Nile" (1978). She also wrote five romance novels under the pen name Mary Westmacott.

Christie was made a Dame in 1971 for her contributions to literature, and Guinness World Records named her the best-selling novelist of all time.

She is estimated to have sold about 2 billion books worldwide.

Early Writing Career

In 1914 she married Archibald Christie, an aviator, and she became Agatha Christie. While Archibald fought in World War I as a member of the Royal Flying Corps, Agatha volunteered as a nurse. She started writing "The Mysterious Affair at Styles" in 1916, which introduces Hercule Poirot, who appears in more than 30 of her other novels.

Christie would later return to the hospital as a pharmacist during World War II. She acquired extensive knowledge in pills and potions that would prove to be helpful in her writing endeavors. 

After the war, Archibald returned home. They had a daughter in 1919. By that point "The Mysterious Affair at Styles" was complete. Christie tried to shop the manuscript around the publishers, but it had been turned down six times. Finally The Bodley Head publishing house gave Christie a chance. The rest is history.

Health Problems & Death

Little is known about Christie's personal life. Of what little information is available, it is known that she had epilepsy. She wasn't alone. Many other celebrated authors are known to have had epilepsy, including Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll, Edgar Allan Poe and Truman Capote, among others.

Although Christie suffered from epilepsy, she died of natural causes at the age of 85 on January 12, 1976.

Continue Reading