From the Nile River in Africa to the Derwent River in Australia

The Nile River in Africa and the Derwent River in Tasmania Australia.  On two different sides of the world.

Q.     What connects these two rivers?       A.     Agatha Christie

You gasp.

In 1922, the now-world renowned detective fiction novelist Agatha Christie took herself on a ten-month Grand Tour of the British empire, including South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. Previously she had spent time in Egypt with her mother in 1910. Her travels helped flesh out details for many of her ‘who-done-it’ mysteries.

For those of my blog followers who have not been devotees of Hercule Poirot, I recommend you read Agatha Christie’s story of Death on the Nile written in 1937, visit the theatre to see Murder on the Nile the 1944 play based on the novel, or watch anyone of the many films that have been produced based on this story. I would be surprised if you cannot access something on the internet.

The correspondence of her travels has been collated into the publication The Grand Tour: Around the World with the Queen of Mystery.

 Grand Tour Agatha Christie bookcover

In this book we can read “From Australia we went to Tasmania, driving from Launceston to Hobart. Incredibly beautiful Hobart, with its deep blue sea and harbour, and its flowers, trees and shrubs. I planned to come back and live there one day. From Hobart we went to New Zealand.” Agatha Christie is, of course, referring to the expansive harbour on the sea end of Tasmania’s Derwent River.  She was also making a typical mistake that some mainlanders and most international tourists make. Tasmania is still part of Australia, even though it is a large island to the south.  So, when she left Sydney New South Wales Australia, I suspect Agatha sailed into Launceston Tasmania Australia.

A book reviewer at http://www.amazon.com/The-Grand-Tour-Around-Mystery/dp/006219125X: remarked “The Grand Tour is a fascinating collection of never before published letters and photographs detailing Christie’s travels around the British Empire in 1922. Most of the letters were sent to her mother and included photos taken with Christie’s own camera as well as newspaper clippings and various memorabilia. This collection is an insight into the thoughts and mind of a young Agatha Christie who had just published two novels and would later become the most widely published author of all time. She and her husband, Archie, embarked on a year-long voyage as part of a promotional trade mission, so there was work involved as well as various obligations as they visited South Africa, New Zealand, Hawaii and Canada. Her letters to her mother were, of course, candid which for this reader greatly added to their charm. I especially enjoyed Christie’s slightly wicked sense of humour, such as when she describes a fellow passenger as “the only young thing on the ship, but although very pretty, is a terrible mutt.” Her observations of both people and places are acute and fascinating to read.  Mathew Prichard, Christie’s grandson, has done an excellent job of collecting, editing and introducing these letters. We are in his debt for The Grand Tour reminds us that Christie was not only an outstanding author but a remarkable woman as well.”

The back cover of the book records:

“In 1922 Agatha Christie set sail on a ten-month voyage around the world. Her husband, Archibald Christie, had been invited to join a trade mission to promote the British Empire Exhibition, and Christie was determined to go with him. It was a life-changing decision for the young novelist, a true voyage of discovery that would inspire her future writing for years to come.

Placing her two-year-old daughter in the care of her sister, Christie set sail at the end of January and did not return home until December. Throughout her journey, she kept up a detailed weekly correspondence with her mother, describing the exotic places and the remarkable people she encountered as the mission travelled through South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, and Canada. Reproduced here for the first time, the letters are full of tales of seasickness and sunburn, motor trips and surfboarding, glamor and misery. The Grand Tour also brings to life the places and people Christie encountered through the photos she took on her portable camera, as well as some of the original postcards, newspaper cuttings, and memorabilia she collected on her trip.

Edited and introduced by Agatha Christie’s grandson, Mathew Prichard, and accompanied by reminiscences from her own autobiography, this unique travelogue reveals a new adventurous side to Agatha Christie, one that would ultimately influence the stories that made her a household name.”

4 thoughts on “From the Nile River in Africa to the Derwent River in Australia

  1. June

    I like the added stage directions for the audience! I refer to “You gasp.” Beyond that, in my opinion this revelatory link is in the category of Charles Darwin’s visit to Australia and also Charles Dickens view of our Continent.
    http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/history-culture/2012/12/dickens-took-inspiration-from-australia Dickens’ association is with the (original) River Derwent in England whereas Darwin’s is in Tasmania.
    http://www.utas.edu.au/library/exhibitions/darwin/hobart.html

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    1. Tasmanian traveller Post author

      What a Dickens of a story! Never knew Charles had a connection with Oz. As for Charles Darwin, I have written him into some early postings (Kangaroo and Bellerive Bluffs on Stage 4 of my walk along the Derwent River; Heading for Self’s Point as it juts out into the Derwent River; and Blinking Billy Point Lower Sandy Bay next to the Derwent River). Nevertheless thanks for this comment because it is a reminder of how many significant people have travelled to our part of the world. And I like the idea of Charles twice.

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