Agatha Christie and the Eleven Missing Days
February to June that year. Agatha’s real desire, however, was to see her story published in book form. The Bodley Head had advertised that the book would come out in August. When it had still not appeared by October Agatha was disappointed and frustrated. In a letter to her publishers she expressed the desire to see her book released before Christmas in order to coincide with the Greenwood trial. In November there was much press interest when the Kidwelly solicitor, Harold Greenwood, was acquitted of poisoning his wife. It was Agatha’s hope that her tale with its poisoning and courtroom drama would strike a similar chord of interest in the public.
    The Mysterious Affair at Styles eventually appeared in America at the end of 1920 and in Britain at the beginning of 1921, selling just over 2,000 copies, which was then considered a good sale for a first detective story. But since the contract she had signed was so much in her publishers’ favour all she made was £25, which was her half-share of the serial rights.
    Agatha’s next book, The Secret Adversary , would earn almost twice as much and introduced an idealized version of Archie and herself in the characters of the recently demobbed Tommy Beresford and Prudence ‘Tuppence’ Cowley, two bright young things whose decision to place an advertisement in The Times hiring out their services – ‘No unreasonable offer refused’ – would lead them into an espionage conspiracy involving missing papers and a mysterious girl who eludes her enemies by faking amnesia.
    Agatha was hoping to succeed at her writing to alleviate the financial constraints of her married life and also because, once again, it had become difficult for her mother to maintain Ashfield on only one source of income following the death in 1919 of Agatha’s grandmother from Ealing.
    Once Agatha realized that the Bodley Head had taken advantage of her, she determined to fulfil her contract with them as quickly as possible so that she might find a new publisher. Her contract did not stipulate that the five books she owed the Bodley Head had to be detective stories, and she seized on this loophole, after delivering the manuscript of The Secret Adversary , to offer the Bodley Head a long mystical story she had written some years previously called Vision.
    Agatha was quite rightly convinced that the company would not accept it, but because her publishers had treated her so unfairly she felt no compunction in the matter. The Secret Adversary was brought out by the Bodley Head in 1922 and fancifully dedicated ‘To all those who lead monotonous lives in the hope that they may experience at second hand the delights and dangers of adventure’, by which time the Christies had embarked on their own adventure.
    Agatha accompanied Archie in his capacity as Financial Adviser on the British Empire Mission of 1922, which took them to South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States to promote the forthcoming British Empire Exhibition to be held in 1924 at Wembley on the outskirts of London. It was one of the most exciting experiences of their lives. Although the tour turned out to be an arduous publicity campaign that involved meeting numerous government officials from each country, it offered moments of respite such as when Archie and Agatha spent two weeks together in Honolulu, where their fascination for each other and their delight in surf-board riding resulted in a mood of companionable playfulness all too often dampened by Archie’s struggle to create a niche for himself in the business world. On the negative side, there was the irascible Major Ernest Belcher, whose fierce temper tantrums made him a volatile leader of the tour, and separation from their daughter Rosalind, who was being looked after by relatives. Their major problems, however, were to come on their return to England.

Chapter Three
Adversity and Prosperity
    As soon as the Christies returned to their London flat things

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