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After Agatha Christie tied the knot with archaeologist Max Mallowan at an Edinburgh cathedral in 1930, they set out on an adventuresome journey. “Max had planned the honeymoon entirely himself; it was going to be a surprise,” Christie penned in An Autobiography.
Romantic Venice was the first stop for the newly wed crime writer. Christie had passed through the Italian city previously while traveling on the Orient Express from London to the Middle East, where she met her future husband on an archaeological dig.
In anticipation of Writers Between the Covers, on sale October 29, we’re spotlighting literary locales associated with some of the figures featured in the book.
When archaeological excursions in the Middle East weren’t on the itinerary for Agatha Christie and her husband, Max Mallowan, the couple could often be found at Greenway House, their holiday retreat in the English countryside. Among the items on display in the 18th century residence-turned-museum—which inspired the setting for the Poirot tale Dead Man’s Folly—are the author’s 1937 Remington portable typewriter and a Steinway piano. The musically talented Christie, who trained as a classical pianist, was too shy to play the piano for anyone except Mallowan.
Before Christie found her happily ever after with the archaeologist, she endured the painfully public demise of her first marriage. After her spouse walked out on her, she became embroiled in a real-life mystery. Christie disappeared for eleven days, sparking the largest-ever manhunt in England before resurfacing with claims of amnesia.
INVESTIGATE CHRISTIE’S RETREAT
Greenway House sits on 30 acres of woodland and gardens overlooking the River Dart. Mystery buffs who want to do more than meander through the museum can holiday in Christie and Mallowan’s digs; a five-bedroom apartment, spread over the first and second floors of the house, is available for short-term rentals.
Following a multi-million dollar restoration, the historic Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul is due to reopen this month. Originally opened in 1892 by the owners of the Orient Express to provide suitably grand accommodation for their passengers at the train’s Istanbul terminus, the Pera Palace quickly became established as the place to see and be seen for members of high society.
Among the hotel’s most famous guests was Agatha Christie, who stayed there many times between 1926 and 1932 and is believed to have written portions of her beloved mystery, Murder on the Orient Express, in Room 411, which can be reserved by guests and contains a library of her books in several languages. A mysterious key she reportedly hid under a floorboard in her room, said to be the key to lost diaries that contain information about her mysterious 11-day disappearance in 1926, is displayed in the Orient Bar. Other famous guests who have lodged at the Pera Palace include Alfred Hitchcok, Greta Garbo, Zsa Zsa Gabor and the Mata Hari.