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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

September 15, 1890

Hello, everybody!  I have to say, it's been interesting to try and only write half the blogs that I used to write, but it's nice at the same time.  It frees up more of my time for other things, which is always good.

Today's edition of the Tuesday Timeline will be going back in time over one hundred years...but it's amazing how even though this person has been gone for many years now how their work still resonates with people, and has inspired many others (including myself) to keep writing.

That'll be your only clue before we reveal the "mystery" behind today's subject.  In the meantime, why don't we have a look at some of the other events that took place on September 15th throughout history?

1812 - Napoleon leads the French Army to the Kremlin in Moscow

1821 - El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Nicaragua declare their independence from Spain

1851 - Saint Joseph's University is founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1862 - Confederate forces capture Harpers Ferry, Virginia, during the American Civil War

1916 - Tanks are used for the first time at the Battle of the Somme during World War I

1922 - Actor Jackie Cooper (d. 2011) is born in Los Angeles

1935 - German Jews are denied the right to citizenship under the Nuremburg Laws on the same day that Nazi Germany adopts the swastika as their official symbol

1944 - Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt meet in Quebec as part of the Octagon Conference

1947 - RCA releases the 12AX7 vacuum tube

1958 - Actress Wendie Jo Sperber (d. 2005) is born in Hollywood, California

1959 - Nikita Khrushchev visits the United States, the first Soviet leader to do so

1963 - Four children are killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama

1966 - Lyndon B. Johnson pens a letter to Congress urging them to enact gun control legislation following a sniper attack at the University of Texas

1968 - The Soviet Zond 5 spaceship is launched - the first spacecraft to fly around the Moon and re-enter Earth's atmosphere

1971 - The first Greenpeace ship sets sail

1978 - Muhammad Ali becomes the first boxer to win the world heavyweight title three times, outpointing challenger Leon Sparks

1981 - Sandra Day O'Connor is unanimously approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee to be the first female justice of the Supreme Court of the United States

2000 - The Summer Olympics begin in Sydney, Australia

2004 - NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announces the lockout of the players' union, which leads to the cancellation of the 2005 Stanley Cup Championship

2007 - Actress/singer/Match Game celebrity Brett Somers dies at 83

2008 - Lehman Brothers files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the largest bankruptcy filing in American history

And celebrating a birthday today are the following people; Forrest Compton, Norm Crosby, Dick Latessa, Henry Darrow, Gaylord Perry, Tommy Lee Jones, Oliver Stone, Larry Sparks, Paula Duncan, Jaki Graham, Dan Marino, Dina Lohan, Scott McNeil, Amanda Wakeley, Vicky Entwistle, Danny Nucci, Josh Charles, Jimmy Carr, Sophie Dahl, Tom Hardy, Marisa Ramirez, Zach Filkins, Dave Annable, Amy Davidson, Tammie Brown, Heidi Montag, Chelsea Kane, Matt Shively, and Jake Cherry.

So, as I mentioned, today's edition of the blog will go back in time over one hundred years. 

The actual date being September 15, 1890.

Now, I can tell you that if this person were still alive...well, she'd probably be in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the oldest living person.  Today would have been her 125th birthday.  Of course, that's not to say that her life was short.  No, she lived a rather lengthy life.  And she used that life to write some of the most compelling mysteries ever known to man or woman.

In fact, at some point in her life, she herself became the subject of one of the 20th century's biggest mysteries!

But we'll get to that a little later.

One thing that I can honestly say about this woman is that she was definitely one of my influences growing up.  I've always been a fan of mystery, and I've always been a fan of writing.  And lucky for me, she managed to find a way to combine both!

This is the story of author, poet, playwright, and Queen of Mystery, Agatha Christie.

Agatha Christie was born Agatha Mary Clarisse Miller on September 15, 1890 in Torquay, Devon, England.  The only girl in a brood of five children, Agatha had a relatively happy childhood, surrounded by strong and independent women.  She was home schooled where she learned how to read, write, do arithmetic, and play a couple of musical instruments.

Agatha was never really one who liked to mingle with other children socially.  She more or less kept to herself.  But she had a fondness for animals, and had several pets.  And one thing that was one constant in her life was her love of reading.  Very seldom did you ever see Agatha without a book in hand.

(I suppose that's why I sort of relate with her and understand her so much.  She and I have very similar personalities.)

Anyway, while Agatha loved reading books, it did take her some time for her to begin writing them.  Her first piece was written while she was recovering from an illness in bed - a six thousand word short story entitled "The House of Beauty" (which would later be an early version of a novel entitled "The House of Dreams").  She would write a couple of other short stories as well, often with the subject matter of dreams and madness, and attempted to send them out to various publishers and magazines.  But Agatha was met with rejection at first - as most of us writers know all too well.

But Agatha never gave up in her quest to have something published, and she began working on a book entitled "Snow Upon The Desert", based on a holiday that she took in Cairo, Egypt.  But once again, publishers rejected her work, leaving her crestfallen.  But again, she refused to give up.

At least around this time, her romantic life was much better.  She fell head over heels in love with Archibald Christie and married him on December 24, 1914 - shortly after the outbreak of World War I and while Archibald was home on leave.

But while Agatha Christie was - for now - in love, she still wanted to achieve her dream of being a writer, and she opted to go the mystery route for her next efforts.  She had always been fascinated by the genre and cited Arthur Conan Doyle's "Sherlock Holmes" as one of her inspirations.  She wrote a novel entitled "The Mysterious Affair at Styles" which had Detective Hercule Poirot as the main character. 

Initially, Christie was met with much of the same rejection that she had encountered with her past efforts.  However, one publisher, The Bodley Head, were greatly considering releasing the book - on the condition that Christie changed the original ending.  Christie agreed, and the book was published in October 1920 - Christie's first of many novels to be published.

And just how many novels did Christie publish during her career?  Well, let's see.  There were those six romance novels that she wrote under the pen name of Mary Westmacott.  And she was the one who wrote "The Mousetrap", which has been performed regularly in England since 1952!  But of course, her bread and butter were the 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections that she wrote under her own name.

After all, she was the one who made Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple household names.

And some of her best known works have been adapted, re-adapted, and spoofed in film, television, and video games.  My own personal recommendations if I could choose just five Agatha Christie novels for you to read are "The Big Four", "Murder on the Orient Express", "The ABC Murders", "Death On The Nile", and "Ten Little N######" (later known as "And Then There Were None" due to concerns about the last word, which for the sake of this PG rated blog, I blotted out.)

But all of the mysteries that Christie wrote in her career cannot top the real life mystery that took place when she mysteriously disappeared herself!

In 1926, the marriage of Agatha and Archibald Christie had hit the skids, and Archibald had asked his wife for a divorce, as he had fallen in love with somebody else.  On December 3, 1926, the Christies had a fight which saw Archibald leaving the Christie estate to be with his mistress.  Later that night, Agatha left the home leaving behind a note to her secretary saying that she was going off to Yorkshire for a few days.

She did not come back.

Her car was found at Newlands Corner, with an expired license and clothing found within.  The public were shocked and saddened over Agatha Christie's sudden disappearance, and a newspaper offered a hundred pound reward for anyone who could find her (a lot of money back in 1926).  At least one thousand police officers and 15,000 volunteers worked around the clock to try and figure out what really happened to Agatha Christie, and her disappearance made the front page of The New York Times.

Fortunately, Christie was not harmed.  She was found on December 14, 1926 at the Swan Hydropathic Hotel where she had registered under the name of her husband's mistress! 

It is unknown as to why she felt the need to disappear for a little while, and Christie took the real truth to her grave when she died in January 1976, having told nobody about it.  It is suspected that she needed to get away for a while because she was going through a lot of stress.  She was overworked and had several books on the go, and her mother had recently passed away.  Her husband's infidelity was likely the icing on the cake.  Heck, if I had so much going on in my life, I probably would have done the same thing - though with the Internet and social media, I probably would be found a lot sooner than Christie was! 

Then again, Christie was the "Queen of Mystery".  Only she could pull off a disappearing act and get away with it as long as she did.  And while she did suffer some backlash for what she did initially, I have to say that it didn't exactly ruin her.  She did divorce her husband in 1928, and she went on to write many, many stories.

I absolutely give props to Christie...a true inspiration of mine.

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