Agatha Christie, Playwright

Green, Julius. 2020. Agatha Christie, Playwright. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This PhD by publication reassesses the significance of the plays of Agatha Christie within the Twentieth Century theatrical canon and seeks to establish the reasons for their neglect by historians of entertainment and literature.

I have undertaken extensive original research on the work of Agatha Christie as a playwright, inspired by my experiences as a professional theatre producer presenting her plays and informed by an unprecedented level of access to relevant archive material.

I reference established appraisals of Christie’s writing, but I question why key texts consistently ignore her work as a dramatist, and I seek to expose the academic assumptions and social prejudices which have resulted in her thirty plays effectively being written out of theatrical and literary history. I place Christie’s achievements in the context of other relevant theatrical developments of the time; in particular the long and bitter battle that her producer, Peter Saunders, fought against the monopolistic H.M. Tennent production company led by Hugh ‘Binkie’ Beaumont. I also examine in detail the premiere productions of each of the performed plays; including their finance, casting, rehearsal process and critical reception; all of which factors impact on the initial success, and consequently on the subsequent fortunes, of any dramatic work.

I argue that, despite the popularity of her novels, Christie was by vocation a playwright. By examining her youthful playwriting aspirations, locating and analysing several lost and forgotten scripts, and placing her work as a dramatist in its historical, social and literary context, my research has exposed and challenged a great deal of previously accepted misinformation and has made a substantial contribution to knowledge; directly resulting in a significant revival of interest in Christie’s plays amongst theatre producers, publishers, audiences and academics.

I conclude that theatre practitioners and academics should re-position Agatha Christie as indisputably the most successful female playwright of all time.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):


Agatha Christie, theatre production, Julius Green

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



29 February 2020

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

23 Apr 2020 14:06

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:15


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