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New photo exhibit shows Agatha Christie’s secret passion: surfing

Agatha Christie photo exhibit loved to surf
While Agatha Christie is traditionally imagined as an elderly women seated at a typewriter, she described surfing as, “one of the most perfect physical pleasures I have known.” Photo: The Christie Archive

Perhaps the most enduring image of iconic crime novelist Agatha Christie is that of the elderly British writer sitting at her typewriter in buttoned up attire, with an extremely serious look on her face. But a new exhibit, featuring never before seen photos of the author, hopes to showcase an entirely different side to Christie’s readers — her surfing side.

The collection, titled “Agatha Christie: Unfinished Portrait” is currently being shown at London’s Bankside Gallery through Sept. 6 as part of a 125-year-anniversary celebration of the Queen of Crime.

In it, fans get to see Christie in a new light, as an active, vibrant women who in her youth loved to roller skate, surf and dance.

Agatha Christie photo exhibit loved to surf
A photo of Christie surfing in Cape Town, South Africa in 1922. Photo: The Christie Archive

“My image of Agatha Christie was basically Miss Marple (an elderly character in many Christie novels) before I started this project,” Alice Graham, curator of the exhibit, told the Daily Mail. “But as a young woman she was incredibly active and very stylish.”

The images from Christie’s youth show a women who defied what was often expected of women in the 1920’s and 1930’s in her pursuit of recreation.

Agatha Christie photo exhibit loved to surf
Christie, seen here at her typewriter, was known as the “Queen of Crime” for her prolific writing career. Photo: The Christie Archive

“There weren't many people in the ’20s and ’30s, particularly women, with the courage, enthusiasm and talent to do what she did,” her grandson, Matthew Prichard, told the Daily Mail. “She was a really forward-looking person.”

And while Christie was almost reclusive in her attempt at maintaining privacy, she did let on to her love of surfing to friends.

Agatha Christie photo exhibit loved to surf
Christie, seen here rollerskating in her home of Torquay, England, had an adventurous side as youth. Photo: The Christie Archive

“Nothing like it,” Christie wrote in a letter to a friend regarding a 1930’s surf trip to Hawaii. “Nothing like that rushing through the water at what seemed to you a speed of about two hundred miles an hour; all the way in from the far distant raft, until you arrived, gently slowing down, on the beach, and foundered among the soft flowing waves. It is one of the most perfect physical pleasure I have known.”

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