Agatha Christie as a Child

(Last Updated On July 6, 2022)

This photograph of Agatha Christie (then Agatha Miller) as a little girl was taken sometime around 1900, making the girl about 10 at the time, but it wasn’t published until 1977, as part of Christie’s biography. From Wikipedia:

Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born in Torquay, Devon, England, UK. Her mother, Clarissa Margaret Boehmer, was the daughter of a British Army captain but had been sent as a child to live with her own mother’s sister, who was the second wife of a wealthy American. Eventually Margaret married her stepfather’s son from his first marriage, Frederick Alvah Miller, an American stockbroker. Thus, the two women Agatha called “Grannie” were sisters. Despite her father’s nationality as a “New Yorker” and her aunt’s relation to the Pierpont Morgans, Agatha never claimed United States citizenship or connection.

Agatha was the youngest of three. The Millers had two other children: Margaret Frary Miller (1879–1950), called Madge, who was 11 years Agatha’s senior, and Louis Montant Miller (1880–1929), called Monty, 10 years older than Agatha. Later, in her autobiography, Agatha would refer to her brother as “an amiable scapegrace of a brother.”

Agatha described herself as having had a very happy childhood. While she never received any formal schooling, she did not lack an education. Her mother believed children should not learn to read until they were eight, but Agatha taught herself to read at four. Her father taught her mathematics via story problems, and the family played question-and-answer games much like today’s Trivial Pursuit. She had piano lessons, which she liked, and dance lessons, which she did not. When she could not learn French through formal instruction, the family hired a young woman who spoke nothing but French to be her nanny and companion. Agatha made up stories from a very early age and invented a number of imaginary friends and paracosms. One of them, “The School”, with a dozen or so imaginary young women of widely varying temperaments, lasted well into her adult years.

I’m not a fan of her work or her political views, particularly the racist aspects of the latter, but I am impressed by Christie’s imagination and dazzling intelligence, which clearly showed through even when she was a child.  Look at those eyes and you can see it . . .

(Photographer Unknown) – Agatha Christie as a Child (c. 1900)

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