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  • Writer's pictureDavid Morris

ANTHOLOGIES: Agatha Christie's "Greenshaw's Folly".

Updated: Apr 13

Greenshaw's Folly is a unique Christie story in that the victim dies as a result of an arrow piercing her jugular vein! This was not a typical Christie method of death - in fact the only other time she used an arrow was in Death Comes as the End. This article discusses the history behind this story as well as its first printings, of which the book form was an anthology.


Anthologies:

Many Christie stories first appeared in print in anthologies - which contain short stories from many different authors in a single volume. Greenshaw's Folly is such an example. Typically, Christie short stories appeared first in an omnibus collection which would be stories solely by Christie. One of the goals of this series of articles is to raise awareness of these anthologies and provide tips and insights into collecting them. The other goal is to shed light on some of these short-stories that are often less well known. For collectors of true first printings, these anthologies should be part of the collection as they represent the first time a specific Christie story appeared in book form. 


The Story:

By the 1950s, Christie was well aware of her income tax liability, and had learned that assigning the rights in one of her works to someone else or to a charity was a very effective way for her to pursue goals that were important to her. To that end, in 1954 when the church at Churston Ferrers (near Greenway in Devon) launched an appeal to raise funds to acquire a new stained glass window, she decided to write a short story and donate its rights. The story she first wrote featured Hercule Poirot and was originally called The Greenshore Folly - a slightly different spelling. This story was quite long - essentially a novella. This meant that it was harder to sell as it was not long enough to be a standalone novel, but it was also too long for publishers such as magazines who serialised her works.

Images: The cover and page one of an original typescript seeking publication.


Christie revisited Greenshore Folly and expanded it to become a fully length Poirot novel now known as Dead Man's Folly (c.1956). However, she did not donate the rights to this book to the church. To support the church, she started over, replacing Poirot with Miss. Marple, and changing the story, but gave it a somewhat similar title - Greenshaw's Folly - copyrighted in 1957. Perhaps she had told the church the name of the story verbally and this allowed her to fulfill that pledge - but I speculate. Regardless, this is the story being discussed in this article.


For those interested in reading the original novella length story (pre-Dead Man's Folly), it was finally published in 2016 - 60 years later - in a special small format edition with a Tom Adams designed jacket under it's original title - Greenshore Folly.


Publication History: Greenshaw's Folly

This new, and now short, story was first published in Canada, in the Star Weekly supplement to the Toronto Star newspaper spread over three instalments from the 3rd - 17th November, 1956. This paper published many of Christie's novels during the 1950s - though mostly abridged and serialised.

Images: John Farrell


In the UK, the Daily Mail newspaper secured the rights to publish it and they serialised it over the week beginning 3rd December, 1956.


In the US, it first appeared in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, (Vol. 29, No. 3) published in March, 1957. For some reason the magazine was issued with two different covers - though the one in red is certainly leveraging Christie's brand recognition more assertively. If readers have any insights as to why the two variants, please do let me know.



When I visited the Frederick Dannay's archives (half of the Ellery Queen duo) at Columbia University in New York, I was able to see how he slightly modified Christie's original text. While most of the changes were to adjust the spelling and syntax for an American audience, there were a few small textual changes. For those interested in seeing how Dannay adjusted the script, please scroll to the very bottom of this articles where you can see more pages of the original Christie typescript and more of the edits.



In Australia, it was first published on the 15th April 1957 in Woman's Day magazine and promoted in the Sydney Morning Herald. While it does portray the victim was killed with an arrow, perhaps the publisher thought it a little too graphic to correctly show it stuck in the neck.



The first time the story appeared in a book was in Elley Queen's 13th Annual, published by Random House in 1958. Priced $3.50 on the front flap, and clearly stating 'First Printing' on the copyright page, this anthology had stories by 13 different authors.



The first time this story appeared in a Christie-only omnibus edition was in the 1960 Collins Crime Club book - The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding and a Selection of Entrées.

In the US, the first omnibus edition containing Greenshaw's Folly was Double Sin and Other Stories, published by Dodd, Mead and Company in 1961. For more details on collecting either of these books, please use this link.


Value:

Anthologies are still generally very affordable as collectors are less familiar with them. The Ellery Queen's 13th Annual is widely available and can be acquired for $50 US in very good condition with a jacket. Copies of newspapers and newspaper supplements are very difficult to find. I have not seen a copy of the Star Weekly for sale, but expect it would sell for $50 CDN. The EQ magazines are very affordable and easy to find for $30 US or less.


Comments?

As always, if you have insights about this story that I've missed do let me know at collectchristie@gmail.com . Also, if you have an anthology you'd like me to profile do let me know. I will slowly work my way through all of them!


Other News.

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. 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.


The Ellery Queen Edits:

Below are numerous typescript pages of Agatha Christie's original Greenshaw's Folly with the edits from Ellery Queen (Frederick Danney) shown.


Prior Anthology Reviews:

The Best Detective Stories of the Year, Faber & Gwyer, UK, 1929: Contains the first Miss Marple story in book form (link).

Best Detective Stories of the Year - 1929, Faber & Faber, UK, 1930: Contains two short stories first printings - S.O.S. and The Third Floor Flat (link).  

Great Short Stories of Detection, Mystery, Horror - 2nd Series, Gollanz, UK, 1931. Contains: The Adventure of the Clapham Cook, (link).

Many Mysteries, Rich & Cowan, UK, 1933: contains the first book printing of the Hercule Poirot story The Second Gong (link).

The Hospital Centenary Gift Book, Harrap & Co, UK, 1935: Contains the first UK hardback printing of The Veiled Lady (link).

Sporting Blood, Little, Brown & Co, Boston, USA, 1942: Contains the first stand-alone hardback printing of Poirot's The Chess Problem (link).

Fifth Mystery Book, Farrar & Rinehart, NY, USA, 1944: Contains the first hardback printing of Tape Measure Murder (link).

20th Century Detective Stories, World Publishing Co, Cleveland, Ohio, USA, 1948: Contains the first hardback printings of two stories - The Double Clue and The Perfect Maind (link).


Closing Comments:

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