Thursday, 10 April 2008

Marple, Cheshire

A recent article in ‘Cheshire Life’ asked: was Miss Marple born in Marple, Cheshire? It’s a good question. Agatha Christie was a regular visitor to Cheshire from an early age, since her sister had married the squire of Abney Hall, near Cheadle and the young Agatha would probably be very familiar with Marple station, en route for her destination.

Certainly, when I gave a talk to a group of readers in Marple a few years ago, there was a strong body of opinion that the great detective took her name from their home town. You’d expect nothing less, but I suspect they were right. I’m not quite as convinced, however, by suggestions that in 1926, during her eleven ‘missing days’, Agatha spent some time at Abney Hall.

The article also referred to a mystery surrounding the Margaret Rutherford film Murder at the Gallop, based on After the Funeral (which actually featured Poirot, rather than Marple.) It’s said that the book was written at Abney Hall. Apparently, it’s suggested on various film buffs’ websites that the world film premiere was staged at a ‘rural church garden party in Cheshire’.

In fact, any such film buffs are mistaken. The world film premiere was actually of Murder Most Foul , based on Mrs McGinty's Dead, and it took place at a village fete at Sandicroft, Great Budworth, near Northwich, in 1964. I say this with some confidence, because I was there – it was a ninth birthday treat - and the whole amazing event is still vivid in my memory to this day. That was the occasion that set me on my path to becoming a crime writer. For that night, so much did I enjoy the murder mystery, I atarted reading my first adult fiction - an Agatha Christie.


Michael Walters said...

I was intrigued to read your posting about Marple, Martin. I don't know whether or not the Agatha Christie story is true, but intriguingly Marple is now home to (to my knowledge) two published crime writers - myself and my near neighbour Chris Simms. It must be something in the (canal) water.

Martin Edwards said...

Too right!
I'd either forgotten or didn't know that Chris lives in Marple.
As for Lymm, a few years back there were three current crime writers here, but Chris Burgess isn't writing at present and Conrad Willaims has moved elsewhere, so at present there's just me.