“All the Sherlock Holmes stories were enthusiasms of mine...”
AGATHA CHRISTIE DISCUSSES HER LITERARY INFLUENCES: DOYLE, SHAKESPEARE, BRONTE, WODEHOUSE, ET AL.
Dated 19th February, 1966, the letter, addressed to Miss Evelyn B. Byrne, reads in full:
Dear Miss Byrne,
I appreciate your having included me in your list. You must bear in mind, however, that I am now elderly and, probably my young teenage enthusiasms might not please young readers so much nowadays!
I would say that I much enjoyed the historical novels of Stanley Wayman – “Under the Red Robe”, “The Abbess of Veaye”, “The Castle Inn” (this I read again with much pleasure only a year ago), etc.
All the Sherlock Holmes stories were enthusiasms of mine. Maurice Hewletts’ “The Forest Lovers”. Practically all of Dickens, though I did skip some of the more sentimental bits, but much relished Mrs. Nickleby, for example, especially the mad old gentleman who was courting her by throwing vegetable marrows over his garden wall!
Charlotte M. Young’s “Unknown to History” was very good. Charlotte Bronte’s “Jane Eyre” I found wildly exciting. The early Hugh Walpole were his best – I enjoyed “Mr. Perrin and Mr. Trail” and “Prelude to Adventure” attracted me, when I was rather older, by their intense originality. P.G. Wodehouse I enjoyed enormously, though it was only many years later that I realised what wonderful construction there was in his plots. I had a brief passion for Maeterlink’s “Bluebird”.
Nobody forced me on to Shakespeare, which I consider very lucky, as I was able to approach him from seeing him first on a stage! This is the way that I think all children and teenagers should meet Shakespeare first, since that is the purpose for which they were meant.
I do not think it matters very much what one likes reading when one is young, the whole business is really an adventure, trying this, trying that, finding what satisfies you and gaining experience the whole time in a world that is closely interwoven with the everyday one, but gives you a different kind of enjoyment and experience.
The short stories of H.G. Wells also made a great impression on me, especially “The Chrystal Egg” and the “Country of the Blind”.
I hope this may be of some use to you.
The recipient, Evelyn Byrne, was a teacher at The Elizabeth Barrett Browning Junior High School. In the 1960s she began writing to well-known authors asking if they would discuss their literary influences, specifically what books they read and enjoyed when they were young. Byrne then published the responses in the school newspaper and later collected them (including Agatha Christie’s response) in her 1971 book, Attacks of Taste.
One sheet (7x11 inches) of Christie’s Winterbrook House stationery, folded to create four pages, with Christie’s letter typed on three pages. With original envelope. Housed in custom presentation folder with a publicity photograph. Expected folds; fine condition.
AN EXCEPTIONAL LETTER OFFERING INSIGHT INTO THE LITERARY DEVELOPMENT OF ONE OF THE WORLD’S MOST BELOVED AUTHORS.
Price: $3,900 .