Oooh. I did not know that about Death on the Nile but am very glad she made the substitution.
A letter from Edmund Cork dated 29 April 1936 expressed delight at Christie’s news that Death on the Nile was finished. Unfortunately, there are few notes for the plot of this famous title. We do, however, have, in Notebook 30, a list of potential characters – including one very significant one – and a brief note about possible plot development. Most of the ideas originally intended for inclusion were waylaid into other titles.
Death on the Nile
Mrs P (ex wardress of American prison)
Mathew P son – nice
Mrs Mathew P – nice
Miss P nervy hysterical girl
Master P Boy of 20 – excitable
Dr. Pfeiffer – doctor and toxicologist
Mrs Pfeiffer – recently married to him – 35 – attractive – with past
Marc Tierney – archaeologist – a little apart from the rest
Mrs Van Schuyler – boring American woman elderly snobbish
Mrs Pooper cheap novelist
Miss Harmsworth – girl companion to Miss Van Schuyler
Rosalie Curtis sickly girl
Mrs Gibson – non stop talker
The biggest surprise in this list is the (double) inclusion of Miss Marple: at first with, and than without, a question mark. Prior to this, the only novel in which Miss Marple had appeared was The Murder at the Vicarage in 1930, and her next novel appearance, The Body in the Library, was still a further five years away. Moreover, the 1932 short story collection The Thirteen Problems, set firmly in the parlours of St Mary Mead, could hardly be seen as a preparation for an exotic Egyptian adventure. For in 1937 the Nile was as exotic to the majority of Christie readers as Mars is to her current audience: very few travelled abroad for holidays, if, in fact, they took holidays at all. So to transport Miss Marple from the (admittedly relative) safety of St Mary Mead to the banks of the Nile and subsequently to the Temple of Karnak, Abu Simbel and Wadi Haifa may have been seen as a journey too far; and so Poirot was substituted.