Monday 7 November 2022

Agatha Christie and the Aristocracy

Yes, Agatha Christie was a snob who only wrote about aristocrats - wasn't she?

Or does she write more often about self-made men than hereditary aristocrats? In Giant’s Bread the beautiful old house is saved by a strategic marriage with a button-shank heiress

In The Seven Dials Mystery, Lord and Lady Coote are only renting “Chimneys” from Lord Caterham. Lord Coote started life in a bicycle shop, and made his money from an unspecified “works”.

Roger Ackroyd, who looks “more like a country squire than a country squire himself”, made his money from wagon wheels

The Crackenthorpe family in The 4.50 from Paddington descend from a man who used the wealth gained from manufacturing biscuits to build the “Victorian monstrosity” they rattle around in. 

Carrie-Louise in They Do It With Mirrors starts out in life as an American heiress. She marries the wealthy Swede Eric Gulbrandsen, who sets up a charitable trust to administer his money after his death. She later marries Lewis Serrocold and together they start a school for delinquent boys – in another “Victorian monstrosity”. 

Lord Whitfield in Murder Is Easy made his money from newspapers and bought the local manor house.

Perhaps I should explain that in the UK, "aristocrats" are people whose families have held titles and land since the Reformation in the 16th century. They look down on self-made men and recently conferred titles. 

More about Christie here, and links to the rest.

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