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Peek into Agatha’s secret plot

London, Sept. 14: The country house where Agatha Christie wrote some of her most popular mysteries is to be opened to the public for the first time since the death of the world’s most successful modern author in 1976.

Greenway House, on the banks of the Dart river in southwest England, was acquired by the National Trust, a charity concerned with heritage and preservation, on the death of Dame Agatha’s only daughter late last year.

The announcement was made to coincide with the start of the first “Christie Week” to celebrate the works of the Queen of Crime. Dame Agatha sold more than two billion books, translated into 103 languages. Only the Bible and Shakespeare’s works are said to have sold more.

Many of those bestselling crime mysteries, such as those featuring the Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, were written at Greenway, which makes a thinly disguised appearance in at least two of them: Dead Man’s Folly, written in 1956, and Five Little Pigs, written in 1943.

The National Trust opened 30 acres of gardens and the boathouse of Greenway House to the public in 2002 after it was donated by Dame Agatha’s family. The trust was given the 225-year lease to the house after the deaths of Christie’s daughter, Rosalind Hicks, and her husband, Anthony, who lived there.

Before opening Greenway to the public, the trust intends to spend at least '2 million on restoring it to the glory of its heyday in the 1930s. Among Dame Agatha’s possessions, there is the desk on which she wrote many books.

Dame Agatha was already one of the world’s bestselling authors when she purchased Greenway in 1938.

In 1944, during the build-up to D-Day, the house was requisitioned by the Americans. A huge mural painted by a US serviceman still adorns Greenway’s magnificent sitting room. Dame Agatha was determined to preserve it as a memorial to those troops who died on D-Day.

One of the events to mark Christie Week, which celebrates the 75th anniversary of the creation of Miss Marple, is an exhibition at Harrods, in West London, of important Christie artefacts, including the 1937 Remington typewriter on which she wrote many of her most famous novels.

Dame Agatha began writing at the age of 15. She spent the last years of her life in the south of England, near Oxford, and was still writing up to her death, at the age of 85.

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