Death on the Nile
Agatha Christie
Contributed by Sharen Felty

Historical and Current Context

Death on the Nile was first published in Great Britain by Harper Collins Publishers. Christie?s writings are mostly focused on crime, and this book is under the famous Hercule Poirot investigative series. Death on the Nile is inspired by Christie?s trip to Egypt, where she rode on a steamer known as the Karnak. Her fellow passengers influenced her thinking, which led her to write the story. The story starts in London, then moves to the Cataract Hotel in Egypt, and eventually to the steamer ? where the primary scenes of the story are set, and leads the reader into further mystery. The Egyptian setting reflects the oriental context that Christie attempts to emphasize, and serves as a representation of diversity given the many types of passengers on the steamer.


Agatha Christie first spent time in Cairo, Egypt when she was seventeen years of age, as it was more economically viable to spend her off-season time there, as opposed to London where it was always expensive. She later got married to Max Mallowan after her first marriage failed. Max was an archaeologist and, therefore, spent a lot of time traveling. One of these travels led the couple to Egypt, hence, inspiring Christie to write Death on the Nile.

Information on Author

Agatha Christie was born on 15 September 1890 as Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller, in South West England. Her father was American, and who decided to homeschooled her. Her mother, Clara, wanted Agatha to learn writing and reading much later, but Agatha taught herself to read by the age of five. Agatha?s creative mind was apparent at a young age ? she began inventing imaginary friends attending dances and started writing poems. By the age of 18, Agatha was writing short stories, and some were later published in the 1930s by author and friend, Eden Philpotts. Due to her mother?s illness, Agatha and her family left for Cairo for a few months. Agatha?s first marriage was to Archie Christie; but their relationship did not work out, and he eventually left her for another woman. This greatly affected her, which led to her eleven-day disappearance ? with everyone, including the police, looking for her but in vain. She later met Max Mallowan, who became her second and ultimate lifelong partner and traveling companion (Cade, 2011).

During the First World War, Christie began writing detective stories, eventually giving birth to the character of Hercule Poirot. The inspiration for the character came about during the war, since there were many Belgian refugees in the countryside of England. Christie, therefore, felt that a Belgian refugee, who was a former policeman, would make an excellent detective for her first detective story, The Mysterious Affair at Styles. She wrote at least two books every year. The Middle Eastern atmosphere greatly influenced Christie, which is reflected in her various writings including Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile, and Appointment with Death. At some point, Christie disguised herself as Mary Westmacott, but her cover was blown by a magazine reviewer. This greatly disappointed her as she enjoyed writing under a pen name, as it made her avoid the pressure that came with being Agatha Christie. Many of her novels became theater productions; hence, in the 1940s and 1950s, she wrote less so that she could focus on the productions. Her last public appearance was in 1974, when the film version of Murder on the Orient Express was being aired. She died peacefully on 12 January, 1976.

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