A large collection of previously unknown audiotapes recorded by acclaimed British mystery writer Agatha Christie have been discovered in one of her former houses in Devon. The tapes offer a highly personal “dictation of her life story” and Christie’s estate are considering releasing them or updating her autobiography as a result.
Uttered in the reedy voice of Christie herself, these withering descriptions are contained on a cache of audiotapes, recently discovered in a dusty cardboard box in one of her former houses by her only grandson, Mathew Prichard.
The tapes — 27 reels running a total of more than 13 hours — are filled with Christie’s painstaking dictation of her life story, rough material recorded in the early 1960s that eventually made up her autobiography, published posthumously in 1977. It stands as one of only a handful of recordings of Christie, the British mystery writer, who rarely agreed to be interviewed.
Christie’s estate is expected to announce its discovery on Monday, the 118th anniversary of her birth, calling the tapes a rare find and a significant addition to the collection of memorabilia related to Christie.
In Britain the appetite for all things Agatha Christie is still fierce. Devoted fans still mark her birthday with a weeklong festival of theater performances, treasure hunts, teas and murder-mystery parties. And while her books have never been considered high literary art, more than 500,000 copies of them are sold in Britain each year. She has been outsold in volume only by Shakespeare and the Bible.
Taking into account such strong interest, Christie’s estate is considering releasing part of the tapes or publishing a new, updated version of her autobiography.
Nevertheless, Christie’s grandson has indicated that he does not intend to make all of the recordings available to the public:
Her grandson, Mr. Prichard, who is also the chairman of Agatha Christie Limited, said he does not intend to make every minute of the tapes public. “One thing we probably won’t do is release in its entirety the discovery we’ve made,” he said. “There are quite extensive parts that are confused and slightly rambling and obviously had to be quite seriously edited for the autobiography.”