Agatha Christie death commemorated at Oxfordshire graveside

Agatha Christie
Image caption Agatha Christie died in 1976, aged 86

A wreath has been laid at Agatha Christie's graveside to mark the 40th anniversary of the author's death.

A ceremony at St Mary's Church in Cholsey, Oxfordshire also included readings from her autobiography.

Christie died aged 86 at nearby Winterbrook House in Wallingford, which had been her home with archaeologist husband Sir Max Mallowan since 1934.

And Then There Were None, adapted for BBC One over Christmas, was last year named her best novel.

The book topped a poll to mark the 125th anniversary of the writer's birth.

Updates on this story and more from Oxfordshire

Image caption A TV version of And Then There Were None was screened on BBC One in December
Image copyright Wallingford Museum
Image caption Christie was married to archaeologist Sir Max Mallowan

The Reverend Andrew Petit and Judy Dewey, curator of Wallingford Museum, led the ceremony, which included a prayer and readings from Christie's autobiography and poetry collection.

"Her death was of worldwide interest, but her funeral in Cholsey Church on a bleak, cold, winter's day was a quiet family and friends affair - apart from the scores of press, some from as far away as South America," Ms Dewey said.

She added: "Last summer, in one month alone, the grave was visited by about 300 people."

Things you might not know about Agatha Christie

Image copyright AFP / Getty Images
  • She was a surfing pioneer
  • She had a penchant for poison
  • Her husband was suspected of murdering her when she disappeared for 11 days
  • She was the best-selling female writer of all time
  • She did not have a formal education and taught herself to read

Source: BBC Arts

An exhibition to be held at Wallingford Museum from March until November will include photographs and letters from Christie's later life, including correspondence with the chairman of the local amateur dramatics group the Sinodun Players.

"She watched many of their performances and was given special seats, and she particularly liked their pantomimes - she was an absolute pantomime fanatic," said Ms Dewey.

One letter from Sir Max to the players following Christie's death said: "What was truly valuable in Wallingford was her privacy and freedom from social involvement, for in this way she was able to devote her time to creative work which gave pleasure to millions."

Image copyright Claire Ward
Image caption The ceremony, in the churchyard of St Mary's in Cholsey, included a prayer and readings from Christie's autobiography and poetry collection
Image copyright Judy Dewey
Image caption Christie died at Winterbrok House in Wallingford

Christie's novels have sold roughly two billion copies and she is still the world's most-translated individual author - having been translated into at least 103 languages.

An event to commemorate the 40th anniversary of her death and her connections to Cholsey and Wallingford will be held at the museum from 9-11 September.

Image copyright Bill Nicholls
Image caption The wreath was laid at Agatha Christie's graveside in Cholsey

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