top of page
  • Writer's pictureDavid Morris

COLLECT: Agatha Christie First Editions: 1971-1974.

Updated: Mar 31

This is the twelth instalment in my series on ‘true firsts’ where I review the first time Agatha Christie’s stories were published - both novels and magazine printings are considered. To review prior time periods for first editions click the relevant link at the very end of this article or select ‘First Editions’ (link) from the menu choices on the home page of the website to read all the articles about first edition books.


This article focuses on Christie's fictional mystery novels. Any books published under the Westmacott or Mallowan names have separate articles within the 'First Editions' section of my website.


By the 1970s, Agatha Christie was in her 80s and both the volume and quality of her writing was changing. While she had written Curtain and Sleeping Murder many years earlier, they were still to be published and will be addressed in my next instalment. The five books discussed below include two short story collections and three original novels that were written at this time. One of the short-story collections was only published in the US. The other four books discussed were published globally.


The Golden Ball and Other Stories - 1971.

Only published in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in August 1971, this collection contains 15 short-stories. Of note to collectors of first editions, two of these stories had not previously been printed in a book (UK or US) prior to this publication. These stories are Magnolia Blossom and Next to a Dog.


Of the remaining, 11 were first US book printings but all 13 had appeared in UK books previously. The two stories previously printed in the US were the Hound of Death (in Shapes of the Supernatural, Doubleday, 1969) and The Lamp (in A Gathering of Ghosts, Funk & Wagnalls, 1970). Many had appeared in magazines.


For UK printings, five of the short stories were first published in The Hound of Death and Other Stories (Odhams, UK, 1933). Eight of the short stories were first published in the UK in The Listerdale Mystery and Other Stories (Collins, UK, 1934). Most, but not all, had appeared in magazines or newspapers prior to the book form.


The first edition stories are:

Magnolia Blossom: First appeared in the UK in The Agatha Christie Hour, Collins, 1981.

Next to a Dog: First appeared in the UK in The Problem at Pollensa Bay and Other Stories, HarperColins, 1991.


Value: There are a few very good collectibles copies currently on the market. Expect to pay $30 for a very good copy with a complete dust jacket. At some stage, this book will become harder to find but I think it is forgotten as a necessary book to own for a completist collector.


Nemesis - 1971.

First Edition: According to an advertisement placed in the Guardian newspaper on 21 October 1971 (UK), Collins stated Nemesis was just published. The UK edition was priced £1.50.


First US Edition: Published in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company. The book was likely published towards the end of November 1971. The first advertisement for it was in the San Francisco Chronicle on 21 November. The US edition was priced $6.95.


First Magazine Appearances: The story was first published in Woman's Realm (UK) across seven weekly issues from September 25 (Vol. 27, No. 702) to November 6, 1971 (Vol. 27, No. 708). It was abridged. In Canada, the novel was serialised in the Star Weekly, a Toronto newspaper supplement that published numerous Christie stories. It appeared in two abridged instalments from October 16 to October 23, 1971. In both cases, the Collins book was published prior to either magazine issuing all instalments of the story.

For even more information on collecting this title, including the various paperback editions, please see my detailed article at: Nemesis - Link.


Values: Both the UK and US editions are quite ubiquitous, though be patient and only acquire a copy with a complete jacket (not price clipped) and no previous owner's names etc. Between the two, the US edition is slightly harder to find in this condition. Both are fairly priced in this condition around £30 or $30.


Elephants Can Remember - 1972.

First Edition: This novel was not published in a newspaper or magazine prior to it being published by Collins' Crime Club in early November 1972. The first ad marketing the book was placed by Collins was in The Observer on November 12th. The book was priced £1.60 on the front flap.


First US Edition: Published in the US by Dodd, Mead & Co. on November 20th, 1972. Priced at $6.95.


First Magazine Appearance: This novel first appeared in the Star Weekly, a Toronto newspaper supplement, but was published several months after the book was released. It was serialised in two abridged instalments from February 10 to February 17, 1973. The art for each instalment was the same.

Values: Both the UK and US editions are easy to source. With any of these 1970s books, be patient and only acquire a copy with a complete jacket (not price clipped) and no previous owner's names etc. Both are fairly priced in this condition around £30 or $30.


Postern of Fate - 1973.

First Edition: It is unclear whether the book was first published in the UK or the US. Most of the newspaper advertisements for this book in the UK didn't appear until November, but there are various claims online that Collins Crime Club first published the book in October 1973. It retailed at £2.00. One of the appeals of the UK first edition is the photograph of Christie's dog on the rear cover who plays a small part in this novel. Harkening back to the cover of Dumb Witness almost 35 years earlier, it's a reminder of Christie's love for dogs.

In the US the book appears to have been published by Dodd Mead & Co in late October 1971, as by the end of October, various libraries in the US were indicating the title was now on their shelves (the example below is from October 30th). It retailed for $6.95. Sadly the US jacket was fairly uninspired and had no photo of Christie's dog.

So until additional facts are found, it is a toss-up as to which was the first printing.


First Magazine Appearance: The only magazine printing of this novel I can find was in Australia in Woman's Day. It was serialised over several instalments beginning February 4th, 1974. If anyone has more insights on magazine printings do let me know.


Values: Both the UK and US editions are fairly priced in very good complete condition around £30 or $30.


Poirot's Early Cases - 1974.

First Edition: This book was cobbled together to keep the 'Christie for Christmas' sales machine going as no original novel was written for this season. It was first published in the UK by Collins Crime Club in 1974 with the first newspaper references to it on 19th September. It sold for £2.25. Collins was essentially publishing 18 short-stories that had been printed in US books but not in the UK. Thirteen of them had initially been in The Sketch back in the 1920s, with the other five being published in various other magazines or newspapers. Only two of the stories had previously been printed in a UK book. The Market Basing Mystery. This had previously appeared in book form in the collection Thirteen for Luck!, Collins, 1966. The other was Problem at Sea (originally titled The Crime in Cabin 66) which was first published in November 1943 by Polybooks in Poirot on Holiday which contained this story and The Regatta Mystery.

There appears to be a variant jacket that lacks some of the colour of the correct first edition jacket (below right). Also, to Christie's approval, only half of Poirot was shown - whether its the half she wanted is unclear. But in an interview she gave to Lord Snowdon in 1974 she said: "I think the jacket of a book should only be half-length of the character unless there is some special reason for it."


The US Edition: No 'Christie for Christmas'. Since all the stories contained within the volume had all appeared in previous US collections, the press sadly reported there would be no 'Christie for Christmas'.

But the book was published in the US likely in late September 1974 (based on newspaper ads) under the slightly different title of Hercule Poirot's Early Cases, priced at $6.95. Thus, it contains no US first edition, but may still be of interest to completist collectors. The prior US books that contained these stories were Poirot Investigates (1924), The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories (1939), Three Blind Mice and Other Stories (1950), The Under Dog and Other Stories (1951), and Double Sin and Other Stories (1961).


Values:  Both the UK and US editions are fairly priced in very good complete condition around £30 or $30. The variant jacket may command a slight premium. Copies of The Sketch magazine are hard to find and may reach £100 per issue when in very good condition.


Summary. 

While these books are all quite affordable, they are not as easy to find in the correct first edition version as one might think - with a complete correct jacket and in very good or better condition. These books from the latter part of Christie's years may not be as critically respected as her earlier works, but they do offer an affordable entry point into building a collection of first editons. However, the day will come when collectible quality copies of these books will be harder to find. For the magazines discussed, collector quality copies of anything 1950 onwards are quite affordable, and most can be found for affordable prices. Some just take patience to find.


UPDATE: 2024 International Agatha Christie Festival.

I am pleased to share that I will be presenting at the Festival again this year on the 15th September in Torquay, Devon, UK. The schedule for Sunday the 15th is now all finalized (as is most of the week's events). There are some other wonderful speakers and tickets are starting to dwindle with less about 40 seats now remaining - so book now (link) and come and make a day (or a week) of it.


My presentation is "The Art and Artists of Agatha Christie". I will be sharing fascinating insights into the iconic dust jacket artwork that adorned Agatha Christie’s British and American first editions. My research has unveiled some surprising information about the artists which I'll be sharing. In addition, I'll talk about how they helped to bring her books to life and shape the public's perception of her work, as well as how Agatha herself was involved in their design. For more details or to obtain tickets go to this link: Festival Link.


Feedback & Following:

These are the links to all the other First Edition articles.

Part 1: 1920 to 1932 (link) / Part 2: 1933 to 1935 (link)

Part 3: 1935 to 1937 (link) / Part 4: 1938 to 1940 (link)

Part 5: 1940 to 1944 (link) / Part 6: 1944 to 1948 (link)

Part 7: 1948 to 1951 (link) / Part 8: 1952 to 1954 (link)

Part 9: 1955 to 1959 (link) / Part 10: 1960 to 1964 (link)

Part 11: 1965 to 1970 (link)

If I have missed anything, have incorrect information, or if you have any questions or feedback, please email me at: collectchristie@gmail.com  


As always, thanks for reading and comments are always most welcome. If you are not a subscriber to my website, please consider subscribing here: link. This ensures you receive an email any time I write and post an article. Also, consider following me on X (formerly Twitter) @collectchristie and on Facebook (link). The content varies across platforms.


254 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page