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Agatha Christie

  • Imagination is a good servant, and a bad master.

  • The simplest explanation is always the most likely.

  • Every murderer is probably somebody's old friend ...

  • It is curious — but you cannot make a revolution without honest men. ... Every revolution has had its honest men. They are soon disposed of afterwards.

  • Surfing is like that. You are either vigorously cursing or else you are idiotically pleased with yourself.

  • How often have I not heard a perfectly intelligent female says, in the tone of one clinching an argument, 'Edgar says — ' And all the time you are perfectly aware that Edgar is a perfect fool.

  • ... all women, without in the least meaning it, consider every man they meet as a possible husband for themselves or for their best friend.

  • ... there is no fanatic like a religious fanatic.

    • Agatha Christie,
    • "The Chocolate Box," Poirot Investigates ()
  • With method and logic one can accomplish anything.

    • Agatha Christie,
    • "The Kidnapped Prime Minister," Poirot Investigates ()
  • ... the detective's highest talent lay in the gentle art of seeking favours under the guise of conferring them!

    • Agatha Christie,
    • "The Affair at the Victory Ball," Poirot Investigates ()
  • ... a lot of trouble has been caused by memoirs. Indiscreet revelations, that sort of thing. People who have been close as an oyster all their lives seem positively to relish causing trouble when they themselves shall be comfortably dead.

  • I've a theory that one can always get anything one wants if one will pay the price. And do you know what the price is, nine times out of ten? Compromise.

  • There are some people who don't conform to the signals. An ordinary well-regulated locomotive slows down or pulls up when it sees the red light hoisted against it. Perhaps I was born color blind. When I see the red signal — I can't help forging ahead. And in the end, you know, that spells disaster.

  • It is completely unimportant. That is why it is so interesting.

  • ... how tedious is retirement! You cannot imagine to yourself the monotony with which day comes after day.

  • Never worry about what you say to a man. They're so conceited that they never believe you mean it if it's unflattering.

  • He was one of those staunch patriotic Britons who, having made a portion of a foreign country their own, strongly resent the original inhabitants of it.

  • A man when he is making up to anybody can be cordial and gallant and full of little attentions and altogether charming. But when a man is really in love he can't help looking like a sheep.

  • Desperate ills need desperate remedies.

  • In my experience, people who go about looking for trouble usually find it.

  • ... a great man always knows better than to explain unless an explanation is demanded. To rush into explanations and excuses is always a sign of weakness.

  • Very few of us are what we seem.

  • What they need is a little immorality in their lives. Then they wouldn't be so busy looking for it in other people's.

  • It's a mystery to me how anyone ever gets any nourishment in this place. They must eat their meals standing up by the window so as to be sure of not missing anything.

  • Nothing, I believe, is so full of life under the microscope as a drop of water from a stagnant pool.

  • The young people think the old people are fools — but the old people know the young people are fools!

  • The contemporary historian never writes such a true history as the historian of a later generation.

  • Time does not dispose of a question — it only presents it anew in a different guise.

  • ... obsessions are always dangerous.

  • Nobody knows what another person is thinking. They may imagine they do, but they are nearly always wrong.

  • 'That is difficult to say exactly,' said Mr. Kirkwood, enjoying, like all lawyers, making the reply to a simple question difficult.

  • Assumptions are dangerous things.

    • Agatha Christie,
    • "The Herb of Death," Thirteen Problems ()
  • ... I've always noticed that if you speak the truth in a rather silly way nobody believes you.

  • The supernatural is only the natural of which the laws are not yet understood.

    • Agatha Christie,
    • title story, The Hound of Death ()
  • Curious things, habits. People themselves never knew they had them.

    • Agatha Christie,
    • "Witness for the Prosecution," The Hound of Death ()
  • A mother's love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.

    • Agatha Christie,
    • "The Last Séance," The Hound of Death ()
  • Bitterness leads nowhere. It turns back on itself. It is the eternal cul-de-sac.

  • I've got an uncle myself. Nobody should be held responsible for their uncles. Nature's little throwbacks — that's how I look at it.

    • Agatha Christie,
    • "The Girl in the Train," The Listerdale Mystery ()
  • It is my experience that no one, in the course of conversation, can fail to give themselves away sooner or later. Everyone has an irresistible urge to talk about themselves.

  • The popular idea that a child forgets easily is not an accurate one. Many people go right through life in the grip of an idea which has been impressed on them in very tender years.

  • Men don't understand how their mannerisms can get on women's nerves so that you feel you just have to snap.

  • Speech ... is an invention of man's to prevent him from thinking.

  • There's nothing so dangerous for anyone who has something to hide as conversation.

  • One place is very like another.

  • Love is not everything ... It is only when we are young that we think it is.

  • There are people who may enter a house and there are people who may not — that a dog soon learns. eh bien, who is the person who most persistently tries to gain admission, rattling on the door twice or three times a day — and who is never by any chance admitted? The postman. Clearly, then, an undesirable guest from the point of view of the master of the house. He is always sent about his business, but he persistently returns and tries again. Then a dog's duty is clear, to aid in driving this undesirable man away, and to bite him if possible. A most reasonable proceeding.

  • You don't realize what fine fighting material there is in age. ... You show me any one who's lived to over seventy and you show me a fighter — some one who's got the will to live.

  • ... definitely a dreary woman. Rather like an earwig. She's a devoted mother. So are earwigs, I believe.

  • If we seek to keep the past alive, we end, I think, by distorting it.

  • ... marriage is an extraordinary thing — and I doubt if any outsider — even a child of the marriage — has the right to judge.

  • ... nothing is so boring as devotion.

  • ... lawyers never go to law, do they? They know better.

  • And a couple of hospital nurses in the house who were about as sympathetic as a brace of grandfather clocks.

  • Every man should have aunts. They illustrate the triumph of guesswork over logic.

  • Nurses --- nurses, you'm all the same. Full of cheerfulness over other people's troubles.

  • To care passionately for another human creature brings always more sorrow than joy; but all the same ... one would not be without that experience.

  • The point is that one's got an instinct to live. One doesn't live because one's reason assents to living. People who, as we say, 'would be better dead' don't want to die! People who apparently have everything to live for just let themselves fade out of life because they haven't got the energy to fight.

  • He hated people who reeled off their thoughts and feelings to you, who took it for granted that you wanted to know all their inner mechanism. Reserve was always more interesting.

  • There is something about conscious tact that is very irritating.

  • ... there is evil everywhere under the sun.

  • Dogs are wise. They crawl away into a quiet corner and lick their wounds and do not rejoin the world until they are whole once more.

  • You agree — I'm sure you agree, that beauty is the only thing worth living for.

  • It is a theory of mine ... that we owe most of our great inventions and most of the achievements of genius to idleness — either enforced or voluntary. The human mind prefers to be spoon-fed with the thoughts of others, but deprived of such nourishment it will, reluctantly, begin to think for itself — and such thinking, remember, is original thinking and may have valuable results.

  • There's too much tendency to attribute to God the evils that man does of his own free will.

  • You're shocked, Mr. Burton, at hearing what our gossiping little town thinks. I can tell you this — they always think the worst!

  • Hate doesn't last. Love does.

  • Things never come when they are expected.

  • You can only really get under anybody's skin if you are married to them.

  • Most successes are unhappy. That's why they are successes — they have to reassure themselves about themselves by achieving something that the world will notice ... The happy people are failures because they are on such good terms with themselves that they don't give a damn.

  • It was the kind of desperate, headlong, adolescent calf love that he should have experienced years ago and got over.

  • And, of course, afterwards — one always hears these things afterwards, so much better if one heard them before — we found out that dozens of empty brandy bottles were taken out of the house every week!

  • Truth, however bitter, can be accepted, and woven into a design for living.

  • Never do anything yourself that others can do for you.

  • The man obviously wanted to tell him something — and as obviously had lost the art of simple narration. Words had become to him a means of obscuring facts — not of revealing them. He was an adept in the art of the useful phrase — that is to say, the phrase that falls soothingly on the ear and is quite empty of meaning.

  • What was this passion that attacked women for knitting under the most unpropitious conditions? A woman did not look her best knitting; the absorption, the glassy eyes, the restless busy fingers! One needed the agility of a wildcat, and the will power of a Napoleon to manage to knit in a crowded tube, but women managed it! If they succeeded in obtaining a seat, out came a miserable little strip of shrimp pink and click-click went the pins!

  • Those who never think of money need a great deal of it.

    • Agatha Christie,
    • "The Second Gong," Witness for the Prosecution ()
  • Was that what, ultimately, war did to you? It was not the physical dangers — the mines at sea, the bombs from the air, the crisp ping of a rifle bullet as you drove over a desert track. No, it was the spiritual danger of learning how much easier life was if you ceased to think.

  • The tragedy of life is that people do not change.

  • Does the real thing ever have the perfection of a stage performance?

  • Nothing he did was ever illegal — but as soon as he'd got on to it, you had to have a law about it, if you know what I mean.

  • ... there are many to whom money has no personal appeal, but who can be tempted by the power it confers.

  • More children suffer from interference than from non-interference.

  • If anyone is really determined to lend you a book, you never can get out of it!

  • She lied with fluency, ease and artistic fervor.

  • Money ... is always the great clue to what is happening in the world.

  • ... the belief in a superstratum of human beings ... is the most evil of all beliefs. For when you say, 'I am not as other men' — you have lost the two most valuable qualities we have ever tried to attain: — humility and brotherhood.

  • Achievement brings with it its own anticlimax.

  • ... bad temper is its own safety valve. He who can bark does not bite.

    • Agatha Christie,
    • title story, The Under Dog ()
  • The bereaved had never any doubt about their dear ones' wishes and those wishes usually squared with their own inclinations.

  • What a mistake for an author to emerge from her secret fastness. Authors were shy, unsociable creatures, atoning for their lack of social aptitude by inventing their own companions and conversations.

  • Don't think. That is the wrong way to bring anything back. Let it go. Sooner or later it will flash into your mind.

  • ... you cannot give to people what they are incapable of receiving.

  • She was no longer young and had a mild worried face like a sheep.

  • If you've had a happy childhood, nobody can take that away from you ...

  • 'It's never difficult to think of things,' said Mrs. Oliver. 'The trouble is that you think of too many, and then it all becomes too complicated, so you have to relinquish some of them and that is rather agony.'

  • I can't imagine why everybody is always so keen for authors to talk about writing. I should have thought it was an author's business to write, not talk.

  • It is ridiculous to set a detective story in New York City. New York City is itself a detective story.

    • Agatha Christie,
    • in Life ()
  • If one sticks too rigidly to one's principles one would hardly see anybody.

    • Agatha Christie,
    • Towards Zero: A Play in Three Acts ()
  • ... where two people are writing the same book, each believes he gets all the worries and only half the royalties.

    • Agatha Christie,
    • news item, 1955, in James Beasley Simpson, Best Quotes of '54, '55, '56 ()
  • The best time for planning a book is while you're doing the dishes.

    • Agatha Christie,
    • news item, 1955, in James Beasley Simpson, Best Quotes of '54, '55, '56 ()
  • There are doubtless certain unworldly people who are indifferent to money. I myself have never met one.

  • Of course I despise money when I haven't got any. It's the only dignified thing to do.

  • The truth often does sound unconvincing.

  • Ideas are like everything else. They've got to be marketed.

  • Mr. Jesmond made a peculiar noise rather like a hen who has decided to lay an egg and then thought better of it.

    • Agatha Christie,
    • "The Theft of the Royal Ruby," Double Sin ()
  • ... I've got a stomach now as well as a behind. And I mean — well, you can't pull it in both ways, can you? ... I've made it a rule to pull in my stomach and let my behind look after itself.

    • Agatha Christie,
    • "The Dressmaker's Doll," Double Sin ()
  • ... evil was, perhaps, necessarily always more impressive than good.

  • ... the science of tomorrow is the supernatural of today.

  • Evil is not something superhuman, it's something less than human.

  • 'Don't worry.' Surely the most fatuous words in the English or any other language.

  • In old days the public didn't really mind much about accuracy, but nowadays readers take it upon themselves to write to authors on every possible occasion, pointing out flaws.

  • ... it was clear that the books owned the shop rather than the other way about. Everywhere they had run wild and taken possession of their habitat, breeding and multiplying and clearly lacking any strong hand to keep them down.

  • Everything has got its right size. When it is its right size and well run it's the tops.

  • The out-of-date returns in due course as the picturesque.

  • Beastly things, teeth. Give us trouble from the cradle to the grave.

  • I learned ... that one can never go back, that one should not ever try to go back — that the essence of life is going forward. Life is really a one way street, isn't it?

  • Is there ever any particular spot where one can put one's finger and say, 'It all began that day, at such a time and such a place, with such an incident?'

  • It's astonishing in this world how things don't turn out at all the way you expect them to!

  • Where large sums of money are concerned, it is advisable to trust nobody.

  • One doesn't recognize in one's life the really important moments — not until it's too late.

  • To put it quite crudely ... the poor don't really know how the rich live, and the rich don't know how the poor live, and to find out is really enchanting to both of them.

  • Money's queer. It goes where it's wanted.

  • Oh, no, I'm not brave. When a thing is certain, there's nothing to be brave about. All you can do is to find your consolation.

  • In my end is my beginning — that's what people are always saying. But what does it mean?

  • ... there's a proverb which says 'To err is human' but a human error is nothing to what a computer can do if it tries.

  • Too much mercy ... often resulted in further crimes which were fatal to innocent victims who need not have been victims if justice had been put first and mercy second.

  • ... if you ask me, nobody really likes people who are always doing their duty.

  • I suppose without curiosity a man would be a tortoise. Very comfortable life, a tortoise has.

  • Wonderful things, horses. Never know what they will do, or won't do.

  • ... too much safety is abhorrent to the nature of a human being.

  • It's wonderful to be married to an archaeologist — the older you get the more interested he is in you.

    • Agatha Christie,
    • quoting a never-identified woman (although the quote is always attributed to Christie), in Jeffrey Feinman, The Mysterious World of Agatha Christie ()
  • The urge to write one's autobiography, so I have been told, overtakes everyone sooner or later.

  • I don't think necessity is the mother of invention — invention, in my opinion, arises directly from idleness, possibly also from laziness.

  • One of the luckiest things that can happen to you in life is, I think, to have a happy childhood

  • ... one is left with the horrible feeling now that war settles nothing; that to win a war is as disastrous as to lose one!

  • I have enjoyed greatly the second blooming that comes when you finish the life of the emotions and of personal relations; and suddenly find — at the age of fifty, say — that a whole new life has opened before you, filled with things you can think about, study, or read about. ... It is as if a fresh sap of ideas and thoughts was rising in you.

  • My sister said once: 'Anything I don't want mother to know, I don't even think of, if she's in the room.'

  • Writers are diffident creatures — they need encouragement.

  • ... I changed from an amateur to a professional. I assumed the burden of a profession, which is to write even when you don't want to, don't much like what you are writing, and aren't writing particularly well.

  • The first time you do a thing is always exciting.

  • The whole thing was like a nine-month ocean voyage to which you never got acclimatized.

  • There is nothing more thrilling in this world, I think, than having a child that is yours, and yet is mysteriously a stranger.

  • ... surely for everything you love you have to pay some price?

  • I think, myself, that one's memories represent those moments which, insignificant as they may seem, nevertheless represent the inner self and oneself as most really oneself.

  • I like living. I have sometimes been wildly despairing, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.

  • I live now on borrowed time, waiting in the anteroom for the summons that will inevitably come. And then — I go on to the next thing, whatever it is. One doesn't luckily have to bother about that.

  • It is only when you see people looking ridiculous that you realize just how much you love them.

    • Agatha Christie
  • ... it's always interesting when one doesn't see. If you don't see what a thing means, you must be looking at it wrong way round.

    • Agatha Christie
  • I have learnt that I am me, that I can do the things that, as one might put it, me can do, but I cannot do the things that me would like to do.

    • Agatha Christie
  • Many friends have said to me, 'I never know when you write your books, because I've never seen you writing, or even seen you go away to write.' I must behave rather as dogs do when they retire with a bone; they depart in a secretive manner and you do not see them again for an odd half hour. They return self-consciously with mud on their noses. I do much the same.

    • Agatha Christie,
    • in Mason Currey, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work ()
  • There is no greater mistake in life than seeing things or hearing them at the wrong time.

  • Anyone who has never really loved has never really lived.

  • The saddest thing in life and the hardest to live through is the knowledge that there is someone you love very much whom you cannot save from suffering.

  • Any woman can fool a man if she wants to and if he's in love with her.

    • Agatha Christie,
    • "Witness for the Prosecution," The Hound of Death ()
  • To be part of something one doesn't in the least understand is, I think, one of the most intriguing things about life.

Agatha Christie, English writer

(1891 - 1976)

Full name: Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller Christie Mallowan. She also wrote under the name “Mary Westmacott.”