Agatha Christie, renowned for her mastery in crafting intricate murder mysteries and beloved characters such as Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, carries another, less known, title – one of England’s first female surfers. Beyond her prolific writing career, Christie held a deep love for the ocean and the thrill of surfing, a passion that found its roots in her childhood and later became a significant part of her adventurous life.
The Beginnings of a Passion
Born in Devon in 1890, Christie’s affinity for water was nurtured by her coastal upbringing. She spent her early years swimming off the Torquay coast, where she developed a strong connection with the sea. It’s no surprise that this relationship with the ocean would eventually lead her to the exhilarating world of surfing.
From Devon to the World
After World War I, Christie and her husband, Archie, embarked on a year-long around-the-world trip, participating in the British Empire Exhibition’s trade mission. Their journey began in South Africa, where they first delved into the sport of bellyboarding.
Their surfing journey continued as they traversed across Australia and New Zealand, eventually arriving in Honolulu in August 1922. Here, the Christies learned to ride surfboards standing up at the famed Waikiki Beach. Surfing in the 1920s, however, was not an easy endeavor. The finless surfboards of the time were hefty wooden planks, roughly 10 feet long and weighing up to 100 pounds, making them incredibly challenging to ride.
Riding the Waves
Christie documented her initial experiences with surfing as a mix of painful trials and moments of pure ecstasy. “After ten days I began to be daring. Starting my run, I would hoist myself carefully to my knees on the board, and then endeavor to stand up,” Christie recollected. She spoke of her triumphant joy when she managed to maintain balance and ride a wave standing up into the shore for the first time.
Such was the pair’s love for surfing that they extended their stay in Hawaii for an additional three months, dedicating their time to mastering the art of riding the waves.
Christie’s Take on Surfing
Christie had a particular passion for the adrenaline rush that surfing gave her. When asked about her experience, she remarked, “Oh it was heaven! Nothing like rushing through the water at what seems to you a speed of about two hundred miles an hour. It is one of the most perfect physical pleasures I have known.”
An Unlikely Surfer
Agatha Christie is not the first name that springs to mind when we think of pioneering surfers, but her love for the sport adds another dimension to her fascinating persona. More than just the best-selling novelist of all time, she was a woman unafraid to step outside the norms of her time, whether that was crafting mystery novels that captivated millions or embracing the sport of surfing long before it was mainstream.
So, as you next pick up an Agatha Christie mystery, remember that the mind behind the captivating twists and turns was not just a masterful novelist, but also a daring adventurer who found her heaven riding the waves.