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Agatha Christie exhibition at the Shire Hall Museum, Dorchester

Agatha Christie, one of Britain’s favorite writers and creator of Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, is at the center of a new exhibition at the Shire Hall Museum in Dorchester. Holly Carr investigates.

Beginning at the bottom of a flight of stairs, Agatha Christie-related photos line the walls of a new exhibit on the iconic author, images of the author and scenes from her life and characters slowly take you through a room immersing in all things related to the queen of detective writing.

The first thing that catches your eye as you enter is a large, bronze-coloured bust of the novelist, which is collector Christie Gale Goddard’s favorite part of the exhibit and, she says, “is the only replica of the one in bronze in Torquay, so if the one in Torquay was destroyed it is the only other.

As you walk through the exhibition hall, each section tells a different story about the famous novelist. For a moment, you are transported into the world of one of Christie’s iconic characters, Hercule Poirot, met with a captivating velvet navy suit elegantly dressed on a mannequin and accompanied by his silver swan-shaped walking cane, at alongside a display case of all things Poirot, including two asymmetrical boiled eggs, or immersed in the world of Murder on the Orient Express through replica props and actor signatures.

This show is just part of the exhibit that spanned around 15 years, made up of memorabilia ranging from daggers to books, letters and costumes. Six first editions of the books Christie wrote under the guise of Mary Westmacott are also part of the collection.

Gale said: “Sometimes you buy a lot and other times you only buy one or two things. I’m really done buying for the collection, it’s only part of it, there’s more and there’s a separate collection of replica dust jackets – that’s another exhibit I trying to take off.

She loves sharing the show with her fans, explaining, “That’s why I do it, I like to share, it’s not for me, it’s to share the show and allow others to walk around and enjoy it as much as I do – that’s when I see it, otherwise everything is tidied up.

Gale, who is a 65-year-old retired civil servant from Rutland, started collecting around 2005: “I had watched Five Little Pigs and just had the idea of ​​collecting signed autographs, it went from there. really.”

Her love for Christie stemmed from her love of murder mysteries “fiction and non-fiction, I think it’s the psychology of murder more than anything,” she added, “Agatha Christie, her stories throw a lot of red herrings and so far, I’ve only been able to solve one – even I can’t.

Agatha Christie de Gale’s favorite novel is Dumb Witness, in which an elderly spinster is poisoned in her country home. The novel features Belgian detective Hercule Poirot and is narrated by his friend Arthur Hastings.

The overall exhibition experience tells Christie’s story through the power of images and memorabilia all drawn from a private collection, giving viewers additional insight into her life, writing and characters, as well as than his own disappearance which has been dubbed the biggest mystery. of all.

Gale shared his thoughts on the mystery of Christie’s disappearance: “My opinion is that if you look at the facts, in 1926 her mother died and she was extremely close to her mother, it was a huge loss for her, so her husband was having an affair and said he wanted a divorce, it was a big shock, also the fact that Collins was pushing her for another book and she was struggling, her brother-in-law had a brilliant idea’ why don’t you get a set of short stories and make it into one story.

She continued: “You have to look at the facts, it wasn’t for publicity, because why did she need publicity, she was a well-known writer, but unfortunately the press went to town on her and that l made me think she was really a bit of a fraud and I think she had a nervous breakdown and ended up in Harrogate where she couldn’t remember how she got there.

More than 1,000 people have visited the exhibition since it opened in late April and Shire Hall’s communications and fundraising manager, Tamsin Little, said it was going “very well, we are really delighted, we going through the comment cards with Gale and all of them have been so positive.

She thinks it’s because “Agatha Christie is timeless”, going on to say “you have people who read the books, or a lot of my friends got into Agatha Christie watching it with their parents or grandparents , it’s been through all the books, TV and now you have all the new movies coming out.

Throughout her life, Christie wrote 66 mystery novels and 14 collections of short stories, as well as being the woman behind the world’s longest-running play, The Mousetrap. His books have sold over a billion copies in English and a billion in translation.

The best-selling novelist was born in Torquay in 1890 and during the First World War worked as a nurse at the town’s Red Cross hospital. Around this time, her sister challenged her to write a novel which took her four years to produce, but finally, her first book, The Mysterious Affair at Styles was published, receiving many good reviews.

Alongside the exhibition, the historic Shire Hall Courthouse Museum will host a selection of Agatha Christie-inspired events, including two Murder Mystery Nights, with One Night Already Sold Out and Drinks in the Clink: Cocktails and Crime , held in conjunction with Bridport cocktail bar, DarkBear. This event will allow visitors to experience an evening full of Christie-inspired cocktails and mocktails in the cells below the courthouse museum.

*The exhibition is open until Friday, September 2, 2022.

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