Wednesday, 1 August 2012
A Published Author - Agatha Christie
It was a busy time for Agatha and on top of the birth she found herself having to face a move to London after her husband, Archie was offered a job at £500 a year. On top of Archie's savings and investments which brought in another £100 a year, Agatha also received £100 a year from a fund set up under the term of Agatha's grandmother's will. The money was ample to support a modest sized family and Agatha was pleased that she would be able to afford a maid and a nanny - all middle class families of the time had servants. It was the done thing, old boy and it wouldn't have been cricket to go without.
A housemaid proved no problem but Agatha had trouble finding a suitable nanny but eventually, after interviewing many intimidating women, she settled for a thirty five year old woman named, Jessie Swannell.
And so it was all system go for the family as they settled in a ground floor flat in Addison Mansions. With so much going on in her life, it is little wonder that Agatha had almost forgotten about the manuscript of a detective novel she had written and sent off to publishers.
A letter came from publisher John Lane at Bodley Head who suggested the young author visit their offices to talk about her novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Agatha did so and was told that Bodley Head would publish the book if she considered changing the ending. Agatha had written the denouncement as a court room scene, but John Lane felt that it didn't read true. He felt that Agatha didn't know enough about the legal profession to make the scene credible.Agatha was more than willing to change things as the thought of being a published author thrilled her. Agatha thus created the blueprint that many of her future novels would follow, when she had her detective, Poirot called all the suspects together at the end of the novel and explained how the murder was carried out.
Agatha signed the contract without showing it to a lawyer, which was something she would come to regret years later when she was the bestselling writer in the entire world, but for now the thought of seeing her name on a book, of becoming a published writer was enough.
"I had married the man I loved, we had a child, we had somewhere to live and I was a published author. I saw no reason why it shouldn't be happy ever after." Agatha Christie
Agatha's initial contract meant that she didn't get any royalties until the book had shifted 2000 copies, and the author was also obliged to offer Bodley Head her next five novels. That didn't seem to matter as Agatha had no intention of writing another, and had only penned the first one after being challenged to do so by her sister, Madge.
Agatha would have laughed had anyone told her of the long and lucrative literary life ahead of her, and for now it was enough to be a published author...