July 25, 2013
As a writer myself, I’m naturally interested in the life and career of the Number One best-selling author of all time. That would be Agatha Christie, with some 4 billion (!) books sold—including her own life story, An Autobiography, published in 1977, a year after her death. I’m reading it now, and am in a state of shock over the rigors and disadvantages of this woman’s childhood.
She was born Agatha Miller in 1890 and had to spend her entire infancy without a car seat. I mean, what were her parents thinking? How can you have a baby and not have a car seat, into which you can strap the baby and put her conveniently out of the way so you can watch eight hours of football? Little Agatha never knew the security of being confined in a car seat until it made her head flat. Instead, she had to suffer the indignity of being handed around like a puppy by her mother and father, and even a nurse.
Worse, the poor little tot was never enrolled in day care. Imagine being raised by your mother and father! Mr. and Mrs. Miller were exceedingly lucky that there was no Child Protective Services they could be reported to by a cranky neighbor.
Throughout her unfortunate childhood, Agatha labored under the disadvantage of being socialized by adults instead of by her age-group peers—mother, father, nurse, and several household servants. (You didn’t have to be rich to have servants in those days. You just had to be rich to have a lot of them.) Can you imagine anything psychologically more crippling than that? Even her brother and sister were older than she, and tormented her by taking her out boating, and rambling through the urban-challenged countryside. Consequently, she never laid eyes on a porn shop, a mugging, or a traffic accident. Her fiendish family even provided her with a canary and a little dog. We can’t even guess what their purpose was in doing that.
Worst of all, when Agatha reached school age, her parents never sent her off to public school. This was the most unkindest cut of all. Despite her mother’s unusual belief that girls should not start learning to read until they were eight years old, thanks to her growing up in a houseful of literate adults, Agatha was both reading and writing by the time she was five. We can only wonder why the local teachers’ union didn’t put a stop to that. Had they been able to intervene early enough, they might at least have prevented her from learning cursive writing. Public education does a wonderful job of nipping literacy in the bud.
But think of it—no public schooling! No gender coaching: the poor little girl was never taught that she could just as easily be a boy, if that’s what pleased her. She never enjoyed hearing a unionized teacher read King and King, one of the most important books in public schools nowadays: the heart-warming tale of a young prince who “marries” another prince instead of a princess. And of course poor Agatha missed out on the biggest lesson public schooling has to offer—conformity.
This can hardly be stressed enough. Imagine never learning that your age-group peers—other children who know nothing more than you do—are the wisest, most desirable, and most important people in your life, to be imitated in all things. Much more important than your stupid family.
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Is it any wonder that poor Agatha went on to have such a miserable life? She never lived on food stamps, was never arrested. Never in her underprivileged life did she have an out-of-wedlock child. She was a stranger to every social welfare program known to modern man. And it goes without saying that not once in her life did she have an abortion. Everything that makes life worth living to a modern woman was withheld from her. She was truly an early casualty of the war on women.
Instead, she plodded listlessly through life, writing books and plays and stories, traveling all over the world, dabbling in archeology, and raising a daughter of her own, with grandchildren to follow. She showed a brief promise of snapping out of it when her first marriage failed, but then settled into a second that just went on and on until she died.
Could anything be more pitiable?
Happily, the civilized world has learned much in the last century, and there is little fear of its turning out many more Agatha Christies.
© 2013 Lee Duigon - All Rights Reserved
Lee Duigon, a contributing editor with the Chalcedon Foundation, is a former newspaper reporter and editor, small businessman, teacher, and horror novelist. He has been married to his wife, Patricia, for 34 years. See his new fantasy/adventure novels, Bell Mountain and The Cellar Beneath the Cellar, available on www.amazon.com