INSIGHTS: The "Christie Chronicle"
In 1993, Agatha Christie Limited launched the Agatha Christie Society - essentially a dues paying fan club. Those who joined the Society received a quarterly print newsletter, the "Christie Chronicle”, as well as periodic membership perks, such as postcards and bookmarks, and a lapel pin. To learn more about the pins, click here.
The main purpose of the society was "to promote communication between the many, and loyal, fans of Agatha Christie and the various media who strive to bring her works, in their various forms, to the public." - Mathew Prichard.
The society's goal was to produce four newsletters a year - Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter - and was operated as part of Agatha Christie Limited (ACL). The Chairman of both ACL and the society was Christie's grandson, Mathew Prichard. The society's President was Christie's daughter, Rosalind Hicks, and the two Vice-Presidents were Joan Hickson (until her death in 1998) and David Suchet. Membership was offered at £10 per year in the UK and Europe, $30 in the USA and £15 in the rest of the world. The Society was operated out of London.
To give you an idea of the content, each quarterly newsletter was standard sized A4 paper (akin to the 'letter' size in the US), with Issue #1 printed one-sided, the rest two-sided. Each varied in length, though issue #1 was the largest because of its inclusion of a complete listing of all the hardbacks, paperbacks and audiobooks in publication.
Issue #1: Spring 1993.
Page 1: Introduction; Message fro the Chairman.
Page 2: The Life of Agatha Christie - Part 1.
Page 3: Notice Board: snippets of information about TV, stage and film productions.
Page 4: Christie Correspondence: essentially letters to the Editor.
Pages 5-8: Listings of all books in publication.
Pages 9-12: Listing of professional and amateur play productions upcoming throughout the UK and Europe.
Issue #2: Summer 1993.
Page 1: Letter from the Editor; Message from the Chairman.
Page 2: The Life of Agatha Christie - Part 2.
Page 3: On Your Behalf - an interview with David Suchet.
Page 4: Conclusion of Suchet interview; Notice Board.
Page 5: Article on BBC Radio Dramas.
Page 6: Letters.
Page 7: Letters; Video list.
Page 8: Audio cassette list.
Most of the issues followed a similar theme - editorial letters, articles profiling people associated with the world of Christie, reader letters, a 'wanted' section and many listings of plays being performed and items for sale.
Publication of the issues continued regularly for 7 years, and then there was an announcement in the Christie Chronicle Issue #28 in the ‘Winter’ of 2000 that due to costs operations would be transferred to a New York where Kate Stine would become the new Editor (more on her below). However, Christie Chronicle Issue #35 in the 'Autumn/Fall’ of 2001 stated that the society was to close with immediate effect. The Internet had taken its toll and was deemed the more cost effective and productive approach for the future. By 2003, the Society was fully disbanded and all the "AgathaChristie.com" website became the sole face of Agatha Christie Limited.
It is unclear how many members the Society had at its height, but word of mouth from those that should know implied there were only around 300 dues paying members. A copy of the newsletter was also purportedly sent to any new member of the Doubleday Agatha Christie book club in the US, which at its peak had 20,000 members - though it appears very few ever joined the club - so it is unclear if this ever actually happened.
The USA Office of the Agatha Christie Society.
In the summer of 1996, the Society set up a US office in Manhattan, New York, where Kate Stine became the American Society's Director. The goal was to broaden the success of the Society in the US where there were many fans of Christie's works. Between awareness at major literary festivals, a partnership with the Doubleday Book Club, and domestic promotion at a now lower dues cost of $24, it was clear the goal was to rapidly grow membership and ultimately sales of books. While membership didn't reach the targets wanted, this office did handle the creation of the "Christie Chronicle" in its last year.
Collectibility & Values:
Given the low membership, and likely lower number who started on day 1 with the Society, it is possible there are very few complete sets of all 35 issues. Certainly the first few years' and the last year's issues would be the most uncommon, but a full set would be the aspiration for any collector. Values on a per issue basis are likely £20-30 ($24 - $36 US) each for Issues 1-4 and 29-35, with all others around £10 ($12 US) each. A full set in very good plus condition could be fairly assumed to be up to £500 ($600 US).
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