Reading progress update: I've read 280 out of 784 pages.

Agatha Christie’s Complete Secret Notebooks - Agatha Christie, John Curran, David Suchet

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.

 

Plans

 

Death on the Nile

 

Miss Marple?

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

Miss Marple

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.