Facts about Murder on the Orient Express

Regarded as one of Agatha Christie’s greatest achievements, Murder on the Orient Express was first published as a novel in 1934.

The very first publication of the story was in a six-instalment serialisation in the Saturday Evening Post in 1933 in the US, under the title, Murder on the Calais Coach.

The book is dedicated "To M.E.L.M. Arpachiyah, 1933" – Agatha Christie’s second husband, Max Edgar Lucien Mallowan.

It’s likely that the story was drafted when Christie was on an archaeological dig with Max in Arpachiyah, Iraq, although The Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul has an Agatha Christie Room where, it claims, she wrote Murder on the Orient Express.

The story was partly inspired by the Lindbergh case; a shocking real-life case following the kidnapping of international hero, Charles Lindbergh’s, 20-month old son who was held for a $50,000 ransom. The ransom was paid, but unfortunately Lindbergh’s son was never returned.

The story was also inspired partly by an incident in 1929 when the Orient Express was trapped in a blizzard in Çerkezköy, Turkey, where it was marooned for six days! Two years later Christie was involved in a similar scenario when she was travelling on the Orient Express and the train got stuck for a period of time due to heavy rainfall and flooding, which washed part of the track away!

Christie first travelled on the Orient Express in 1928 which also happened to be her first solo trip abroad. This was to become the first of many trips on the train.

Agatha Christie’s notable attention to detail is evident throughout the novel. While writing it, she checked cabin layouts, door handles and light switches, noting down their positions. These crucial details would lead Poirot to solve the case.

The dust jacket blurb on the first edition reads: ‘Murder on the Orient Express must rank as one of the most ingenious stories ever devised.’

In 1974 the book was adapted for the big screen. Directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot, the film was the 11th highest grossing film of the year.

At the age of 84, Agatha Christie made her last public appearance at the royal premiere of the film in London.

In 2015 Murder on the Orient Express was ranked as the second World’s Favourite Christie, which ranked And Then There Were None in the top spot and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd in third place.

Discover more about the adaptation of Agatha Christie's bestselling mystery.