90 Years of Christie favourite: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd


This month marks 90 years since The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was published as a novel for the very first time. Often described as the book that changed Agatha Christie’s career, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was not only a firm favourite of Christie’s but was also voted in the top 3 of the World’s Favourite Christie’s in a global vote in 2015. In an article Christie wrote for The Daily Mail in January 1938 about her relationship with Poirot she counts The Murder of Roger Ackroyd as one of his favourite cases explaining that in the book ‘he was at his best, investigating a crime in a quiet country village and using his knowledge of human nature to get at the truth.’

In The Murder of Roger Ackroyd Hercule Poirot comes out of temporary retirement to undertake the investigation of a peculiarly brutal and mysterious murder. Geniuses like Sherlock Holmes often find a use for faithful assistants like Dr. Watson, and by coincidence it is the local doctor who follows Poirot around and tells the story. Furthermore, he is instrumental in giving Poirot one of the most valuable clues to the mystery.

This was the first book to be published by Williams Collins who, as HarperCollins, still publish her books to this very day. Christie hinted towards the idea that the formula for the story came from her brother in law, James Watts. Lord Mountbatten is also credited with providing inspiration for the novel’s big twist, following a letter he sent to Christie in March 1924.

Not only is The Murder of Roger Ackroyd one of Agatha Christie’s most famous books but Christie also hints that one of the characters, Caroline Sheppard, inspired the creation of Miss Marple. In An Autobiography, Christie says that it’s possible that Miss Marple came from the pleasure she had endured writing Dr Sheppard’s sister in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd as she was Christie’s favourite character in the book. She wanted to recreate an ‘acidulated spinster, full of curiosity, knowing everything, hearing everything; the complete detective service in the home.’

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was the first of Christie’s stories to be adapted into a play. Written by Michael Morton, Alibi opened at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London’s West End in May 1928. Morton’s first suggestion for the adaptation was to take twenty years off Poirot’s age and re-name him Beau Poirot; an idea that Christie was not fond of. Instead, much to Christie’s resentment, the character of Caroline Sheppard was removed and replaced with a young, attractive girl.

Christie was considered to have broken The Detection Club rules with the release of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. The Detection Club rules stated that there should be a definite crime problem, an honest detective process, with a credible and logical solution. Dorothy L. Sayers came to Christie's defence when many critics accused Christie of breaking the rules saying, "It is the reader's job to suspect everybody."

Whether you’re reading The Murder of Roger Ackroyd for the first time or tenth time, we’d love to hear your views on the book. Join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook and in the official forum.

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