Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Notes For September 23rd, 2020

This Day In Literary History

On September 23rd, 480 BCE, the legendary ancient Greek playwright and poet Euripides was born on the Greek island of Salamis. Evidence suggests that he was born into a wealthy family.

He served as a cup-bearer (a royal court officer whose duty was to serve drinks at the royal table) for Apollo's dancers, but soon came to question his religion after being influenced by the great thinkers of the day, including Sophocles, Protagoras, and Anaxagoras.

Euripides was married twice; his wives were Choerile and Melito, though it's not clear which was his first wife. He had three sons. Supposedly, he also had a daughter who was killed by a rabid dog.

This may have been a joke attributed to the comic playwright Aristophanes, who often poked fun at Euripides. In addition to his literary talents, Euripides was also an accomplished painter and athlete.

He once traveled to Syracuse, Sicily, and was involved in various public and political activities. At the invitation of King Archelaus I of Macedon, Euripides left Athens and moved to Macedonia, where he took up permanent residence.

It has been said that Euripides wrote his plays in a cave on the Island of Salamis; the ten-chambered cave, now known as the Cave of Euripides, was the subject of an archaeological dig in the 1990s.

While the complete manuscripts of many of his plays (including his very best ones) survived, many more plays were lost, with only fragments or a handful of lines left to prove their existence.

In 455 BCE, Euripides competed for the first time in the City Dionysia, the famous Athenian dramatic festival. He entered his second play, Medea, which was written in 431 BCE. The classic play was Euripides' take on the Medea myth.

After completing his quest for the Golden Fleece, Jason leaves his wife Medea so that he can marry Glauce, the daughter of King Creon. Driven to great anger and despair by this betrayal, Medea poisons Glauce and Creon, then takes an even crueler revenge on Jason by murdering his children - her own sons.

Euripides' Medea is a sympathetic character who suffers from the disadvantage of being a woman in a stifling patriarchal society that regards her as property to be acquired and discarded at will. This and her identity as a barbarian woman would raise the ire of ancient Greek audiences.

Euripides' proto-feminist treatment of women, his sympathetic depiction of intelligent slaves, and his meditations on the irrationality of religion would establish him as a progressive thinker and a modernist playwright way ahead of his time.

His fellow playwright Sophocles said that while he portrayed men as they ought to be, Euripides portrayed them as they were. Medea placed third in the City Dionysia, reportedly because Euripides refused to brown nose the judges.

Another of his classic plays, The Trojan Women (415 BCE), would win second prize. The play, produced during the Peloponnesian War, was a biting commentary on the capture of the Island of Melos by the Athenians earlier that year, and the Athenians' subsequent slaughter and enslavement of their fellow Greeks.

Euripides' last and greatest play, The Bacchae, completed before his death in 406 BCE, would finally win him first prize at the City Dionysia competition when it was performed a year later. The prize would be awarded posthumously.

The Bacchae is a gruesome tragedy based on the myth of King Pentheus of Thebes and his mother Agave, who were punished by the god Dionysus (King Pentheus' cousin) for refusing to worship him.

Euripides would also write Cyclops, the only complete satyr play (the ancient Greek equivalent of bawdy burlesque comedy) to survive. He died of illness at the age of 74, most likely the result of his exposure to the harsh Macedon winter.

His works would influence the New Comedy, Roman drama, and the French classicists. His influence as a dramatist continues to this day.

Quote Of The Day

"Question everything. Learn something. Answer nothing." - Euripides

Vanguard Video

Today's video features a complete performance of Euripides' classic play, Medea. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Notes For September 22nd, 2020

This Day In Literary History

On September 22nd, 1598, the legendary English playwright, poet, and actor Ben Jonson was arrested and charged with manslaughter. It would not be Jonson's first brush with the law.

He and fellow playwright Thomas Nashe had been previously jailed for obscenity following a performance of their play The Isle of Dogs, which, sadly, has been lost, as all existing copies of the script were destroyed by the authorities.

Jonson's arrest for manslaughter came about as the result of his duel with Gabriel Spenser, an actor who belonged to the same company, that of Philip Henslowe, who managed the Rose Theatre.

Jonson was known for his foul temper and frequent quarrels with other actors - especially those performing in his plays. However, the exact reason for his duel with Spenser is not known.

Swords were the chosen weapons for this particular duel. Although the blade of his sword was ten inches shorter than that of his opponent, Jonson killed Spenser (who, ironically, had previously killed another man in an earlier duel.) to win the duel.

He was immediately arrested, charged with manslaughter, and incarcerated at Newgate Prison. Jonson pled guilty, but avoided the hangman's rope by converting to Catholicism.

He then invoked the Benefit of Clergy, which allowed a defendant to request that he be tried under canon law by a bishop instead of under secular law by a judge.

At his trial, Jonson was able to avoid the death penalty and receive a light sentence by reciting a bible verse (Psalm 51) in Latin and reading a passage from the Bible to prove his literacy.

He was sentenced to be branded on his left thumb and to forfeit his property to the Church, after which, he was released from prison and returned to writing plays and acting.

Earlier that year, Jonson had enjoyed his first big success as a playwright when he staged a production of his classic play, Every Man in His Humour. The play was performed by the Lord Chamberlain's Men, at the Curtain Theatre.

The Lord Chamberlain's Men was England's most famous acting company. One of the first actors to be cast in the play was the legendary actor, playwright, and poet William Shakespeare.

Although Jonson would also become famous for his criticisms of Shakespeare's plays - he once quipped that Shakespeare never revised his plays when they should have been revised heavily - he actually admired Shakespeare.

He said of the Bard, "there was ever more in him to be praised than pardoned." When Jonson learned of Shakespeare's death, he said, "he was not of an age, but for all time."

Quote Of The Day

"Art hath an enemy called Ignorance." - Ben Jonson

Vanguard Video

Today's video features a reading of Ben Jonson's classic poem, To Celia. Enjoy!

Monday, September 21, 2020

IWW Members' Publishing Successes

Paul S. Fein

My nonfiction feature titled "Coco's Dream Debut at Wimbledon" was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Writer's Digest annual writing competition. Many thanks to the Offer respondents and the members of our critique group who helped me with this article.

Pamelyn Casto

Muse-Pie Press published a community poem on Covid-19 that I wrote a line for. You can read and hear the poem, as they made a recording of it. This was quite an interesting and a highly emotional experience, to write with so many strangers about this pandemic and then to see all our lines put together.

All who've had work published through Muse-Pie Press were asked to supply one line for the poem (they asked us back in May 2020). We never saw each other's line. Then a staff member took all the lines and put them in the order you see.

There's no identification of who wrote what line and I rather like it like that. The name of each contributor is listed on the right side of the screen. This was such an emotionally moving sensation, reading the poem tonight, to truly feel how deeply we're all in this together.

As I was reading it, tears welled in my eyes several times over. All those voices... all that confusion... all that fear... all that hope... and we're all speaking it together in our community poem.

Sala Wyman

My review of Accidentals: A Novel by Susan M. Gaines, was published by the Internet Review of Books.

Mark Budman

My story "Can You Breathe?" took the first prize in a short story competition (I retitled it as "Trespassing—a Criminal Offense"). Thanks to all my critics.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Notes For September 18th, 2020

This Day In Literary History

On September 18th, 1987, Hellraiser, a feature film adaptation of the classic horror novella The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker, was released to theaters.

The movie was written and directed by Clive Barker himself - the first time that the popular English horror novelist ventured into filmmaking. It was not the first time that Barker's writings were adapted for the screen.

His short stories Transmutations and Rawhead Rex were adapted as feature films in 1985 and 1986, respectively. Barker hated both movies, which is why he decided to write and direct the next film adaptation himself.

Hellraiser opens with Frank (Sean Chapman), a hedonistic adventurer always in search of new sexual thrills, buying a mysterious antique Chinese puzzle box in an unnamed third world country.

Back home in England, Frank solves the puzzle and opens the box. Chains with small hooks on them fly out of the box and tear into Frank's flesh, then tear him apart as three demonic beings called Cenobites cross over from their hellish dimension to ours.

The Cenobites examine Frank's remains, after which, the leader, Pinhead, (Doug Bradley) picks up the puzzle box and closes it. The room returns to normal. Later, Frank's brother Larry (Andrew Robinson) moves into Frank's house, along with his wife, Julia (Clare Higgins).

They don't know what happened to Frank - they think he's off on another one of his adventures. When Larry enters the upstairs room where Frank was killed, he cuts his hand and some of his blood drips onto the floor - and mysteriously disappears into the floorboards.

This allows Frank's tortured soul to partially regenerate his body. He appears to Julia, with whom he once had an affair, and convinces her to help him complete the regeneration of his body so he can escape from the Cenobites, breaking the deal he made with them.

Soon, Julia is luring men up to the attic on the pretense of sex, where Frank drains them of their blood, which he uses to regenerate his body. He tells Julia about the Chinese puzzle box, and how it allows the Cenobites to cross over from their world to ours.

Soon, Frank, Julia, and Frank's teenage niece Kirsty (Ashley Laurence) all run afoul of the demonic Cenobites, who believe that the extremes of pleasure and pain are inseparable - and are more than happy to introduce the trio to the pleasures of pain.

When Hellraiser was completed, in order to avoid an X rating, the MPAA ratings panel required Clive Barker to trim some of the gore and tone down the overall sadomasochistic theme of the movie.

Some of the cuts would later be restored without resulting in the loss of the film's R rating. The movie's first working title was Sadomasochists From Beyond The Grave.

Hellraiser became a huge box office hit, grossing twenty times its budget. Rightfully considered one of the great cult classic horror films, it inspired numerous sequels and made English actor Doug Bradley, who plays Pinhead, a cult film icon.

Clive Barker would write and direct more film adaptations of his works, including Nightbreed (1990) and Lord of Illusions (1995).

In 2011, Barker was supposed to write and direct a remake of Hellraiser for Dimension Films, which owned the film rights to the Hellraiser franchise. Unfortunately, the project fell through.

When Dimension Films realized that their contract with Clive Barker stipulated that they would lose the rights to the Hellraiser franchise if they didn't produce the movie, they rushed a film into production on a tiny budget of $300,000.

Barker wanted nothing to do with the film, Hellraiser: Revelations, a sequel to Hellraiser: Hellworld (2005). After the advertising claimed it was "from the mind of Clive Barker," the angry writer referred to it as "no child of mine" in a profanity laced tweet.

Hellraiser: Revelations was the first film to not star Doug Bradley as the iconic Pinhead. Bradley tweeted that he backed out because the script read like an unrevised first draft (it was, and there would be no revisions) and he was told that his salary would be about, in his words, "the price of a fridge."

Stephan Smith Collins was cast as Pinhead in Hellraiser: Revelations, which is considered by many to be the worst film in the popular series. Despite the backlash from fans and critics, a tenth installment of the series was released seven years later - so Dimension could keep the film rights.

The role of Pinhead in Hellraiser: Judgement (2018) was again offered to Doug Bradley, but he turned it down when he learned that he would have to sign a non-disclosure agreement just to read the script, to prevent him from publicly expressing any displeasure he might have with it.

This time, Bradley was replaced by a newcomer, Paul T. Taylor, who had impressed writer-director Gary J. Tunnicliffe. Together, they decided to give Pinhead a new look and a new interpretation. Here, he works for Hell as a harvester of condemned souls.

The movie opens with Pinhead and the Auditor of the Stygian Inquisition discussing updating their methods in the age of advanced human technology. Meanwhile on Earth, three police detectives - Sean Carter, his brother David, and Christine Egerton - are investigating a brutal serial killer.

The killer is called The Preceptor because he murders his victims based on the Ten Commandments. As the body count continues, David Carter follows the clues and is stunned to discover that his brother and fellow detective Sean is the Preceptor.

Sean is caught by Pinhead first, and finds himself in Hell. He manages to escape, stealing Pinhead's puzzle box, which he plans to use to sic the Cenobites on his wife and his brother in retribution for their affair...

Despite the studio toning down some of the gore and sexual content, Hellraiser: Judgement was surprisingly well received by fans and critics, with Dread Central horror film critic Steve Barton saying:

Hellraiser: Judgment's biggest accomplishment is that it's actually good. All of the acting is solid, as is the story. Pinhead is omnipresent, and Taylor delivers a worthy performance and is every bit as majestic as you'd hope he'd be... while not perfect nor as good as the classic Hellraiser films, [it] delivers a rather striking vision that feels as new as it does familiar.

Quote Of The Day

"My imagination is my polestar; I steer by that." - Clive Barker

Vanguard Video

Today's video features a documentary on Hellraiser and the film franchise it spawned. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Notes For September 17th, 2020

This Day In Literary History

On September 17th, 1935, the legendary American writer Ken Kesey was born in La Junta, Colorado. His parents, who were dairy farmers, moved the family to Springfield, Oregon, when he was eleven. Kesey attended Springfield High School, where he excelled at academics and became a champion wrestler.

In 1956, while attending the University of Oregon in Eugene, (where he also won wrestling championships) Kesey married his high school sweetheart, Norma "Faye" Haxby, whom he had first met in seventh grade. She would bear him three children.

A year after they married, Kesey received a degree in speech and communication from the University of Oregon's School of Journalism. In 1958, he was awarded a Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship grant to enroll in the creative writing program at Stanford University, which he did.

During his time at Stanford, Kesey volunteered to participate in Project MKULTRA at the Menlo Park Veterans' Hopital. Funded by the CIA, the project was a study of the effects of psychoactive drugs such as LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline on the human mind.

(The study of hallucinogens was actually just one part of Project MKULTRA, a collaboration between the CIA and the U.S. Army Biological Warfare Laboratories. The main goal of the notorious project was to study and develop methods of mind control during the Cold War.)

Kesey would later write many accounts of his experiences with psychoactive drugs, both during Project MKULTRA and in private experimentation. His role as a guinea pig for the government project and his interaction with the patients at the veterans' hospital would serve as the inspiration for his classic debut novel.

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, published in 1962, was narrated by a mental patient - a docile half-Indian giant known as Chief, who pretends to be a deaf-mute. He tells the story of Randle Patrick McMurphy, an amiable transferee from a prison work farm.

Convicted on a battery charge, McMurphy feigns insanity in order to serve out the remainder of his sentence in a mental hospital. With no real medical authority in charge, the ward is run by "the Big Nurse," Nurse Ratched - a sadistic tyrant who rules with an iron fist and three strong young orderlies.

McMurphy constantly antagonizes Nurse Ratched with his rebellious attitude and disruptive behavior, which includes running poker games, making comments about her figure, and inciting his fellow patients to exercise their rights by voting to watch the World Series on TV.

McMurphy inspires Chief to open up to him and the big Indian reveals that he can hear and talk. The two men team up to challenge Nurse Ratched's authority and are later forced to endure electroshock therapy.

The horrific treatments do nothing to temper McMurphy's rebellious nature, as he smuggles in liquor and prostitutes for his fellow patients. After Nurse Ratched's mental cruelty provokes a young patient to commit suicide, McMurphy attacks her and tries to strangle her. He is sent to the Disturbed Ward.

Nurse Ratched recovers from her injuries but loses her voice - her most effective weapon for keeping the patients in line. McMurphy is lobotomized and left in a vegetative state, a condition that will surely frighten and demoralize the patients.

Not wanting his friend to serve as a horrifying example of what happens when you challenge authority, Chief smothers McMurphy with a pillow so he can die with dignity, robbing Nurse Ratched of her victory. Then he escapes from the hospital and returns to his tribal land.

Time magazine would include One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest in its list of the 100 Best English Language Novels From 1925 To 2005. It was adapted as a Broadway play by Dale Wasserman in 1963 and as an acclaimed feature film in 1975.

Directed by Milos Forman and starring Jack Nicholson as Randle Patrick McMurphy, Will Sampson as Chief, and Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched, the movie swept the Oscars, winning Academy Awards for Best Actor, (Nicholson) Best Actress, (Fletcher) Best Director (Forman), Best Picture, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Ken Kesey's second novel, Sometimes A Great Notion, published in 1964, has been compared to William Faulkner's novel, Absalom, Absalom! Set in the fictional Pacific Northwest logging town of Wakonda, Oregon, the novel tells the story of the Stampers.

The Stampers are an irascible family that owns and operates a logging company. After the invention and introduction of the chainsaw to the logging industry, the union loggers in Wakonda go on strike, demanding the same pay for shorter working hours due to a decreasing need for labor.

Since the Stamper family's logging company is non-union, they decide to keep working and supply the local mill with all the lumber that the union workers would have supplied, had they not gone out on strike.

The novel explores the details and ramifications of this fateful decision, no doubt the result of half-crazed old patriarch Henry Stamper's philosophy of "never give a inch," which has defined the Stamper family and its relationship with the town.

While more steeped in realism than Kesey's first novel, Sometimes A Great Notion is also more experimental, with alternating first-person narratives. A masterpiece of Northwestern American literature, it was adapted as an acclaimed feature film in 1970, directed by Paul Newman, who also starred as Henry Stamper.

Following the publication of Sometimes A Great Notion in 1964, Ken Kesey had to go to New York City for a promotional appearance. So, he planned a cross country road trip with some friends, including Beat icon Neal Cassady and legendary poet Allen Ginsberg.

Also along for the ride were counterculture icon Wavy Gravy (in his trademark jester's cap), Stewart Brand, Paul Krassner, and others. Calling themselves the Merry Pranksters, they drove to New York in an old school bus painted with psychedelic colors that they nicknamed Furthur.

When he returned to California, Kesey gave a series of famous psychedelic parties he called Acid Tests. Held in venues decorated with fluorescent paint, the Acid Tests featured light shows, music, and plenty of LSD.

The main house band for these events was a then little known jam band called The Grateful Dead. Tom Wolfe would write about the Acid Tests in his 1968 book, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, so called because the LSD would be dispensed in sugar cubes added to cups of Kool-Aid.

In 1965, after being arrested for possession of marijuana, Kesey faked his own death to trick the police, then fled to Mexico. When he came back to the United States eight months later, he was caught and sentenced to five months at the San Mateo County Jail.

After serving his time, Kesey moved back to his family farm in Pleasant Hill, Oregon, where he stayed for the rest of his life and continued to write. He published three more novels, Caverns (1989), Sailor Song (1992), and Last Go Round (1994). He also published a short story collection, Demon Box (1986), and two collections of essays.

Ken Kesey's last major work was an essay published in Rolling Stone magazine, where he called for peace following the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks. He died of complications from liver cancer surgery in November of 2001 at the age of 66.

Quote Of The Day

"Listen, wait, and be patient. Every shaman knows you have to deal with the fire that's in your audience's eye." - Ken Kesey

Vanguard Video

Today's video features Ken Kesey speaking at the University of Virginia. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Notes For September 16th, 2020

This Day In Literary History

On September 16th, 1919, the famous Canadian writer and educator Dr. Laurence J. Peter was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He later emigrated to the United States.

In 1941, at the age of 22, Laurence J. Peter began a career as a teacher. In 1963, he received a doctorate in education from Washington State University. The following year, he moved to California.

There, he became an Associate Professor of Education, the Director of the Evelyn Frieden Centre for Prescriptive Teaching, and later, Coordinator of Programs for Emotionally Disturbed Children at the University of California.

In 1968, four years after he'd arrived in California, Peter wrote and published a book that made him famous. The Peter Principle was a masterpiece of shrewd satire and social science, examining the flaws of hierarchical organizations such as corporations.

The "Peter Principle" itself stated the following:

In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence ... in time every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out his duties ... work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence.

Peter provides examples of how employees who are not qualified to manage are promoted to middle management because of the skills they showed in performing their previous jobs.

These skills usually don't qualify them to be managers. Thus, the middle manager has reached his highest level of competence, and further promotion simply raises him to incompetence.

In addition to his famous principle, Peter also coined the term
hierarchiology - the study of hierarchies and the principles of hierarchical systems in human society. He described it this way:

Having formulated the Principle, I discovered that I had inadvertently founded a new science, hierarchiology, the study of hierarchies. The term hierarchy was originally used to describe the system of church government by priests graded into ranks.

The contemporary meaning includes any organization whose members or employees are arranged in order of rank, grade or class. Hierarchiology, although a relatively recent discipline, appears to have great applicability to the fields of public and private administration.

Peter's book has proven to be even more influential these days than when it was originally published. It inspired the work of cartoonist Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic strip, who titled one of his own books The Dilbert Principle.

Peter would follow
The Peter Principle with more works, including The Peter Pyramid or Will We Ever Get The Point?, Why Things Go Wrong, The Peter Plan, and The Peter Prescription.

In his final years, up until his death, Peter became involved with and helped to manage the Kinetic Sculpture Race in Humboldt County, California.

The unique annual event is a race of sculptures that double as human powered, amphibious, all-terrain vehicles that can run on land or water.

Called "the triathlon of the art world," the event is a three day cross country race where the sculpture vehicles must cross sand, mud, pavement, a bay, a river, and some steep hills.

While Humboldt County hosts the World Championship race, other Kinetic Sculpture Races take place throughout the United States and around the world.

Laurence J. Peter died in 1990 from complications following a stroke. He was 70 years old.

Quote Of The Day

"Television has changed the American child from an irresistible force into an immovable object." - Laurence J. Peter

Vanguard Video

Today's video features Dr. Laurence J. Peter discussing his most famous book, The Peter Principle, on BBC TV. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Notes For September 15th, 2020

This Day In Literary History

On September 15th, 1890, the legendary English writer Agatha Christie was born. She was born Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller in Torquay, Devon, England. Her mother was the daughter of a British Army captain, her father an American stockbroker.

During World War I, Agatha worked as a hospital nurse. She liked nursing, calling it "one of the most rewarding professions that anyone can follow." After the war, she worked as a pharmacist - a position that would prove helpful to her future writing career, as many murders in her books are committed by poisoning.

Although their courtship was rocky, on Christmas Eve, 1914, Agatha married her boyfriend, Archibald Christie, a pilot for the Royal Flying Corps, which, along with the Royal Air Naval Service, would later be merged and renamed the Royal Air Force.

Agatha bore him one child, a daughter, Rosalind, who would found the Agatha Christie Society and serve as its president until her death.

In 1920, Agatha Christie published her first novel, The Mysterious Affair At Styles. Set in World War I England in a country manor called Styles Court, the novel introduced one of Christie's most famous characters - the brilliant Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot.

Narrated by Poirot's lieutenant, Arthur Hastings, the story tells of a case where Poirot is called to investigate the mysterious poisoning of wealthy widow Emily Cavendish. The book is filled with a half-dozen suspects, red herrings, and surprise plot twists.

Christie's debut novel introduced her distinctive style of detective fiction to the world. It was a big hit with critics and readers alike. Christie would write 33 novels and 51 short stories featuring Hercule Poirot.

The public loved Poirot, though Christie described him as a "detestable, bombastic, tiresome, egocentric little creep." Yet, she refused to kill him off. She believed it was her duty to write what her readers liked, and what they liked was Poirot.

In her 1927 short story, The Tuesday Night Club, Agatha Christie introduced another detective character, one that would become just as beloved as Hercule Poirot. Her name was Jane Marple, and she was an elderly British spinster and amateur detective.

When she wasn't knitting or weeding her garden, Miss Marple was using her brilliant mind and keen understanding of human nature to solve crimes. Christie's first full-length Miss Marple novel, The Murder At The Vicarage, was published in 1930.

In the village of St. Mary Mead, Colonel Protheroe is so hated that even the local vicar once said that killing him would be a public service. He's soon found murdered in the vicar's study.

Two different people confess to killing Protheroe, so Miss Marple sets out to solve the crime and uncover the real killer. The Murder At The Vicarage would be the first of twelve Miss Marple crime novels.

In late 1926, Agatha Christie's life would imitate her fiction. Her husband, Archie, told her that he was in love with another woman, Nancy Neele, and wanted a divorce. After a nasty fight on December 3rd, Archie took off to spend the weekend with his mistress in Surrey.

Agatha also took off, leaving a note for her secretary saying that she was going to Yorkshire. Instead, she mysteriously vanished. Her disappearance led to a public outcry; a massive manhunt took place and her husband was suspected of killing her.

Eleven days after she vanished, Agatha Christie was found at a hotel in Yorkshire, where she had checked in as Mrs. Teresa Neele. She gave no account of her disappearance. Two doctors diagnosed her with amnesia.

Some believe that she suffered a nervous breakdown, but at the time, most of the British public believed that Christie's disappearance was a staged publicity stunt. Others suspected she'd hatched an elaborate plot of revenge on her husband for the affair.

The couple was later divorced. In 1930, Christie married her second husband, archaeologist Max Mallowan, whom she met at a dig. It was a happy marriage that lasted until Christie's death in 1976 at the age of 85.

In her lifetime, Agatha Christie wrote over 80 detective novels, as well as several romances under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott. She was also a playwright, and wrote over a dozen plays.

Her play The Mousetrap (1952), an adaptation of her classic 1948 short story Three Blind Mice, which opened in London on November 25th, 1952, is still running after more than 27,000 performances - a record for the longest initial run of a play.

Of course, Agatha Christie will always be known as the grand dame of crime fiction. Her novels and short stories, which have been adapted numerous times for the stage, screen, radio, and television, have sold approximately four billion copies combined - the only book to outsell hers is the Bible.

Quote Of The Day

"Understand this, I mean to arrive at the truth. The truth, however ugly in itself, is always curious and beautiful to seekers after it." - Agatha Christie

Vanguard Video

Today's video features a complete reading of Agatha Christie's classic mystery novel, And Then There Were None. Enjoy!

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