43 murders, 12 poisonings, 143 cups of tea, 11 philandering lovers, 59 red-herrings, death by an arrow and one blow to the head ...
On Wednesday 20 May, Agatha Christie, the ‘Queen of Crime’, breaks a new world record for the book with the thickest spine – ever. For the first time, all the Miss Marple stories - 12 novels and 20 short stories - are collected and published in one volume, for fans and collectors alike.
The Complete Miss Marple runs to a staggering 4,032 pages. Its spine, a work of inspired engineering by master craftsmen, is over a foot thick (322mm). Agatha Christie already holds two world records – for the longest running play, The Mousetrap – and as the best-selling novelist of all time.
In all, 43 murders are solved: 12 poisonings; 6 strangulations; 2 drownings; 2 stabbings; a burning; one blow to the head; one death by an arrow and 2 people pushed.
There are 68 crimes committed; 11 philandering lovers; 68 secrets and lies; 22 false accusations; 59 red-herrings and 21 romances. 143 cups of tea are drunk in the massive volume, there are 66 maids and 47 garments are knitted.
It is a visually stunning book bound in dark red leather with gold lettering and red-edged pages. Weighing 8.02 Kg, it is presented in a suede-lined wooden box with brass fittings and a leather handle.
The Complete Miss Marple is introduced by Kate Mosse, a lifelong fan of Agatha Christie’s work and bestselling author of Labyrinth. She writes, ‘The character continues to speak to readers some eighty years and more after her debut precisely because, in those quiet moments at the end of the day or when a
difficult decision needs to be made, each of us wishes for our own Miss Marple to give clear and unequivocal advice’.
The book will be launched and judged by Guinness World Records™ at Foyles bookshop on Charing Cross Road in London on 20 May, where it will be on public display throughout that day, with the adjudicated copy being sold at the end of the day.
In his preface, Agatha Christie’s grandson, Mathew Prichard, writes, “My family and I are delighted to welcome the appearance of this giant Miss Marple book, the only way in which it has been possible to fulfil a long-held ambition of mine. Indeed, over the years, everyone has told me it could never be done – to collect together all my grandmother’s stories about Miss Marple into a single volume. Whilst this book is, in publishing terms, a landmark event, it also symbolises the great affection the public, both in Britain and elsewhere, have for Miss Marple. And with everything finally in one book, we hope that some people may even find a story or two they have not yet read!”
Crime writer Val McDermid, a fan of Christie’s work, comments, 'Miss Marple would love the idea of being collected in a volume that would make a perfect blunt instrument. Go Jane!’
Only 500 copies of this limited edition record-breaking book will be produced and they will retail at £1,000 each. They go on sale at 9am on Wednesday 20th May 2009
Copies, complete with Guinness World Records™ certificate, can be purchased via www.agathachrisie.com or by calling 0844 576 8112.
The Complete Miss Marple is 4,032 pages long and printed on Munken Pure 130gsm paper by Cromwell Press. It measures more than a foot in width (322mm) and weighs 8.02 kg. In its box, the book weighs 10.02 kg. It is made up of 252 sewn 16-page sections and the page edges are sprinkled with red dye. In a feat of engineering, it has been bound by Cedric & Chivers Period Bookbinding. It is cased in Winters Wintan leather, blocked in gold on the front and spine and includes head and tail bands and four silk ribbon markers. There is a full colour endpaper map of St Mary Mead, drawn by Nicolette Caven.
The character of Miss Jane Marple first appeared in The Tuesday Night Club, a short story published in The Sketch magazine in 1926. Christie described her canny detective from the village of St. Mary Mead, as a ‘fluffy old lady’, and claimed that Miss Marple’s character was inspired by Dr Sheppard’s sister in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd; certain friends of her grandmother and indeed her own grandmother. She appears in a total of 12 novels and 20 short stories.
Christie never expected Miss Marple to rival Poirot in the public’s affections but since the publication of The Murder at the Vicarage in 1930, her first full length Miss Marple novel, Marple’s popularity continues to grow.
The role of Miss Marple has been famously played by many actresses on stage and screen. The first actress to play her in a (TV) film was Gracie Fields, followed by Margaret Rutherford – a friend of the Christie family; the Academy Award winning actress, Angela Lansbury, Helen Hayes, Joan Hickson, and most recently, Geraldine McEwan. Julia McKenzie is due to take over the role for ITV.