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Agatha Christie and the golden age of detective fiction

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Agatha Christie and the golden age of detective fiction

When we think of twentieth century literature as a popular cultural form, Agatha Christie (1890–1976), Britain’s pre-eminent crime fiction author after the First World War, is impossible to ignore. In terms of both the volume of sales and translation into other languages (over 100), her work is unparalleled in the history of publishing. As Charles Rzepka puts it, Christie is ‘not only the most prolific and popular author of detective fiction in the twentieth century, but the world’s best-selling writer, ever’ (a record which remains intact at the time of writing). In this free course you’ll examine one of Christie’s most significant works, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926), and explore the evolution of British detective fiction in relation to Christie’s background, literary modernism and the development of middlebrow fiction.

This OpenLearn course is an adapted extract from the Open University course A893 MA English Literature Part 1.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • understand some key aspects of Agatha Christie's writing
  • analyse 'golden age' British detective fiction and appreciate its formal and generic features
  • contextualise the rise of detective fiction against literary modernism and new commercial developments in middlebrow writing
  • reflect on the popularity and continuing adaptation of detective fiction and crime writing.

First Published: 27/04/2023

Updated: 27/04/2023

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