[Ads-l] Request help tracing Agatha Christie quotation in The Sunday Times (London) and Reader's Digest 1952

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Thu Jul 7 20:30:32 UTC 2016

A comical quotation ascribed to the famous mystery writer Agatha
Christie appears in a large number of reference works. Here is one

"An archeologist is the best husband any woman can have because the
older she gets, the more he is interested in her."

This message contains two requests:
1) A request to search the "The Sunday Times" of London archive which
is part of the Gale NewsVault.
2) A request to examine "The Reader's Digest" volume 60 in 1952.

The first request involves locating an interview during which Christie
denied making the remark. The "Agatha Christie Miscellany" (2013) by
Cathy Cook contains the following information about the quotation.

[Begin excerpt]
Married to archaeologist Max Mallowan, Agatha Christie denied ever
saying, 'An archaeologist is the best husband a woman can have. The
older she gets the more interested he is in her.' Indeed, in an
interview with Sir Francis Wyndham in the London Sunday Times, she
said that she would have liked to have wrung the neck of the person
who ever suggested that she had said it!
[End excerpt]

Below is more information from the blog of "Seattle Mystery Bookshop"
which suggests that the interview with Francis Wyndham occurred in


[Begin excerpt]
No one is quite sure where Christie’s quote came from and no one has
publicly owned up to saying it. Some try to attribute it to her second
husband Max Mallowan who was a distinguished archeologist. But once
again there is no proof to back this claim up. In 1966 in an interview
with Sir Francis Wyndham, Christie attempted to set the record
straight by categorically denying ever having made the joke, saying
she’d have like to have wrung the neck of who ever had suggested she
made such a remark!
[End excerpt]

The goal is to obtain scans of the interview so that a complete and
accurate citation may be constructed. The scans should show the key
data: the article title, the author, the date, the newspaper name, and
the passage with the Christie's pertinent comments. Scans of the full
interview would be great.

Please contact me off list if your search queries are not working, and
I will offer suggestions.

The second request involves locating one of the earliest citations.
Currently, the first one I have is the following:

Date: January 14, 1952
Newspaper: The Decatur Herald
Newspaper Location: Decatur, Illinois
Quote Page 8, Column 7
Database: Newspapers.com

[Begin excerpt]
--Gothenburg Trade and Shipping Journal, Gothenburg, Sweden.

Agatha Christie, who hardly needs an introduction to readers of
detective stories, is visiting London. She lives most of her time at
Bagdad, where her archeologist husband is carrying out important

At a party, a curiosity bitten guest inquired if it were right for
such an imaginative person to be married to a student of antiquities.

"An archeologist," Agatha Christie said with conviction, "is the best
husband any woman can get. Just consider: The older she gets, the more
he is interested in her."
[End excerpt]

Of course, an appropriate scan from "Gothenburg Trade and Shipping
Journal" would be great, but would probably be difficult to obtain.
This request concerns "The Readers Digest". Google Books shows a
snippet match for the quotation in 1952, but the month is not shown.
If a kind person has access to volume 60 he or she may examine page
107 for each month to locate the quotation. This citation presents the
name Alec de Montmorency which may be a pen name.

Year: 1952
Periodical: The Reader's Digest
Volume 60
Month: Unknown
Quote Page 107
Database; Google Books Snippet data may be inaccurate; verification on
paper required

[Begin excerpt]
AGATHA CHRISTIE, the detective-story writer, lives most of the time in
Bagdad, where her archeologist husband is working on important
excavations. "An archeologist," she says with conviction, "is the best
husband any woman can have. The older she gets, the more he is
interested in her."
--Gothenburg Trade and Shipping Journal, quoted by Alec de Montmorency, NANA
[End excerpt]

The goal is to construct a complete and accurate citation. Visual
verification would be excellent. Even better would be scans showing
the section title (if there is one), the date, the periodical name,
and the passage above.

Please contact me off list if the passage is not on page 107, and I
will offer further suggestions.

Thanks for any help you can provide,
Garson O'Toole

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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