AGATHA CHRISTIE ADAPTS HER NOVEL ORGINALLY PUBLISHED IN 1939 BY ‘THE CRIME CLUB’ AS: TEN LITTLE NIGGERS, AND SUBSEQUENTLY RENAMED: AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, FOR THE STAGE
~~ BUT CURIOUSLY THIS BOOK ALSO APPEARED TITLED AS: ‘TEN LITTLE INDIANS’ IN AMERICA
CHRISTIE, DAME AGATHA. (1890-1976). English writer of mystery novels. Important Autograph Letter Signed, “Agatha Christie,” on her imprinted Greenway House stationery. Four full pages, octavo. “Churston Ferrers, South Devon,” February 21, no year. Very fine condition. To “Dear Mr. Curran.” Christie writes:
“You have certainly raised forth an interesting point. Of course in the original book everyone died, so the point didn’t arise! However I would say that the police would accept their story since (a) There was no conceivable motive for wholesale slaughter on their part and no sign of mental instability – (b) No previous acquaintance between them and their several stories of how they came to Nigger Island would be confirmed – (c) They were neither of them ever in a financial position to buy Nigger Island or to set this scene – (d) Purchase of Nigger Island probably could be eventually linked to the judge – also evidence that he had checked up on the other guests, and probable indication of mental instability would have been noticed even if not fully appreciated – arsenic [?], cyanide, knife, etc. could be traced to him – but certainly not to Vera or Lombard. They might possibly have to stand trial for manslaughter of judge – but I think Lombard would be acquitted as he himself was wounded and his and Vera’s story of judge trying to strangle her with a rope would rally. OK? Yours sincerely, Agatha Christie. [P.S.] Best wishes for production of the play.”
First published in London in 1939 as Ten Little Niggers, Agatha Christie’s novel was changed to: And Then There Were None a year later for New York publication. Christie adapted Ten Little Indians for the stage. It first played with the novel’s original title, Ten Little Niggers, in London, opening on October 17, 1943; it was later produced under the title Ten Little Indians on Broadway.
The story centers around Nigger Island (or Indian Island for American audiences), a mysterious little island off the Devon Coast, supposedly owned by an eccentric millionaire. Ten seemingly unrelated people have been invited to the island, but none of them knows why. One by one, the guests turn up dead, and those remaining are left to figure out the identity of the murderer. In the end only two people remain, Philip Lombard and Vera Claythorne, both of whom believe the other is the killer. Vera shoots Philip, then hangs herself with the rope left for her by the real villain, Justice Wargrave, who had faked his own death earlier in the book. Christie adapted the novel for the stage in 1943 and changed the ending, leaving both Vera and Philip alive, as she thought that scenario would be more romantic for a live audience. Just a terrific Christie letter, detailing several fine points in one of her most acclaimed books!