The Murder at the Vicarage


The Murder at the Vicarage
The Murder at the Vicarage  
The Murder at the Vicarage First Edition Cover 1930.jpg
Dust-jacket illustration of the first UK edition
Author(s) Agatha Christie
Cover artist Not known
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre(s) Crime novel
Publisher Collins Crime Club
Publication date October 1930
Media type Print (Hardcover & Paperback)
Pages 256 pp (first edition, hardcover)
ISBN NA
Preceded by Giant's Bread
Followed by The Sittaford Mystery

The Murder at the Vicarage is a work of detective fiction by Agatha Christie and first published in the UK by the Collins Crime Club in October 1930[1] and in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company later in the same year.[2][3] The UK edition retailed at seven shillings and sixpence (7/6)[1] and the US edition at $2.00.[3]

It is the first novel to feature the character of Miss Marple although the character had previously appeared in short stories published in The Royal Magazine and The Story-Teller Magazine starting in December 1927. These earlier stories would later appear in book form in The Thirteen Problems in 1932.

Contents

Plot summary

In St. Mary Mead, no one is more despised than Colonel Protheroe. Even the local vicar has said that killing him would be doing a service to the townsfolk. So when Protheroe is found murdered in the same vicar's study, and two different people confess to the crime, it is time for the elderly spinster Jane Marple to exercise her detective abilities.

The vicar and his wife, Leonard and Griselda Clement respectively, who made their first appearance in this novel, continue to show up in Miss Marple stories: notably, in The Body in the Library (1942) and 4.50 from Paddington (1957)

Literary significance and reception

The Times Literary Supplement of November 6, 1930 posed the various questions as to who could have killed Protheroe and why and concluded, "As a detective story, the only fault of this one is that it is hard to believe the culprit could kill Prothero [sic] so quickly and quietly. The three plans of the room, garden, and village show that almost within sight and hearing was Miss Marple, who 'always knew every single thing that happened and drew the worst inferences.' And three other 'Parish cats' (admirably portrayed) were in the next three houses. It is Miss Marple who does detect the murderer in the end, but one suspects she would have done it sooner in reality".[4]

The review of the novel in The New York Times Book Review of November 30, 1930 began, "The talented Miss Christie is far from being at her best in her latest mystery story. It will add little to her eminence in the field of detective fiction." The review went on to say that, "the local sisterhood of spinsters is introduced with much gossip and click-clack. A bit of this goes a long way and the average reader is apt to grow weary of it all, particularly of the amiable Miss Marple, who is sleuth-in-chief of the affair." The reviewer summarised the set-up of the plot and concluded, "The solution is a distinct anti-climax."[5]

H.C. O'Neill in The Observer of December 12, 1930 said that, "here is a straightforward story which very pleasantly draws a number of red herrings across the docile reader's path. There is a distinct originality in her new expedient for keeping the secret. She discloses it at the outset, turns it inside out, apparently proves that the solution cannot be true, and so produces an atmosphere of bewilderment."[6]

In the Daily Express of October 16, 1930 Harold Nicolson said, "I have read better works by Agatha Christie, but that does not mean that this last book is not more cheerful, more amusing, and more seductive than the generality of detective novels."[7]

In a short review of October 15, 1930, the Daily Mirror said that, "Bafflement is well sustained."[8]

Robert Barnard: "Our first glimpse of St Mary Mead, a hotbed of burglary, impersonation, adultery and ultimately murder. What is it precisely that people find so cosy about such stories? The solution boggles the mind somewhat, but there are too many incidental pleasures to complain, and the strong dose of vinegar in this first sketch of Miss Marple is more to modern taste than the touch of syrup in later presentations."[9]

Film, TV or theatrical adaptations

The Murder at the Vicarage (1949 play)

The story was adapted into a play by Moie Charles and Barbara Toy in 1949 and opened at the Playhouse Theatre on December 16. Miss Marple was played by Barbara Mullen.

Television adaptations

The BBC adapted the book into a film on December 25, 1986, with Joan Hickson as Miss Marple, Paul Eddington as the vicar, and Polly Adams as Anne Protheroe. It was again presented on ITV by Granada Television in 2004 with Geraldine McEwan as Miss Marple, Tim McInnerny as the vicar, Derek Jacobi as Colonel Protheroe and Janet McTeer as his wife. This version eliminates the characters of Dr Stone and Gladys Cram, replacing them with Professor Dufosse and his granddaughter Helene. Mrs Lestrange was changed to Mrs Lester and Miss Marple hurts her ankle in this version.

Graphic novel adaptation

The Murder at the Vicarage was released by HarperCollins as a graphic novel adaptation on May 20, 2008, adapted and illustrated by "Norma" (Norbert Morandière) (ISBN 0-00-727460-2). This was translated from the edition first published in France by Emmanuel Proust éditions in 2005 under the title of L'Affaire Protheroe.

Publication history

  • 1930, Collins Crime Club (London), October 1930, Hardcover, 256 pp
  • 1930, Dodd Mead and Company (New York), 1930, Hardcover, 319 pp
  • 1948, Penguin Books, Paperback, (Penguin number 686), 255 pp
  • 1948, Dell Books (New York), Paperback, 223 pp
  • 1961, Fontana Books (Imprint of HarperCollins), Paperback, 191 pp
  • 1976, Greenway edition of collected works (William Collins), Hardcover, 251 pp, ISBN 0-00-231543-2
  • 1978, Greenway edition of collected works (Dodd Mead and Company), Hardcover, 251 pp
  • 1980, Ulverscroft Large Print Edition, Hardcover, 391 pp, ISBN 0-70-890476-9
  • 2005, Marple Facsimile edition (Facsimile of 1930 UK first edition), September 12, 2005, Hardcover, ISBN 0-00-720842-1

The novel was first serialised in the US in the Chicago Tribune in fifty-five instalments from Monday, August 18 to Monday, October 20, 1930.

Book dedication

The dedication of the book reads:
"To Rosalind"

The subject of this dedication is Christie's daughter, Rosalind Hicks (1919–2004) who was the daughter of her first marriage to Archibald Christie (1890–1962) and Agatha Christie's only child. Rosalind was eleven years of age at the time of the publication of this book.

Dustjacket blurb

The blurb on the inside flap of the dustjacket of the first edition (which is also repeated opposite the title page) reads:

"In the peaceful village of St. Mary Mead nothing ever happens. So it seems almost incredible when Colonel Protheroe, the churchwarden, is discovered, shot through the head, in the Vicarage study. Everybody thinks they know who has done it – including Miss Marple, the real old maid of the village who knows everything and sees everything and hears everything! She declares that at least seven people have reasons for wishing Colonel Protheroe out of the way! Excitement dies down when somebody confesses to having committed the crime. But that is not the end, for almost immediately somebody quite different also confesses! And there is a third confession through the telephone! But who really killed Colonel Protheroe?”


International titles

  • Romanian: Crimă la Vicariat (Murder at the Vicarage)

References

  1. ^ a b Chris Peers, Ralph Spurrier and Jamie Sturgeon. Collins Crime Club – A checklist of First Editions. Dragonby Press (Second Edition) March 1999 (Page 14)
  2. ^ John Cooper and B.A. Pyke. Detective Fiction - the collector's guide: Second Edition (Pages 82 and 86) Scholar Press. 1994. ISBN 0-85967-991-8
  3. ^ a b American Tribute to Agatha Christie
  4. ^ The Times Literary Supplement November 6, 1930 (Page 921)
  5. ^ The New York Times Book Review November 30, 1930 (Page 32)
  6. ^ The Observer December 12, 1930 (Page 6)
  7. ^ Daily Express October 16, 1930 (Page 6)
  8. ^ Daily Mirror October 15, 1930 (Page 20)
  9. ^ Barnard, Robert. A Talent to Deceive – an appreciation of Agatha Christie - Revised edition (Page 198). Fontana Books, 1990. ISBN 0006374743

External links


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