Collector uncovers Torquay Queen of Crime Agatha Christie's 'lost' play
A 'LOST' play by Queen of Crime Agatha Christie has been uncovered.
Dutch collector and freelance journalist Ralf Stultiëns, 35, uncovered the unpublished play 'Mrs Perry' among items that once belonged to Hughes Massey & Co Ltd, Agatha Christie's former literary agency in London.
He intends to display the manuscript at Torquay Museum during the Christie Festival in September.
Mr Stultiëns said: "I paid a couple of thousand pounds for the manuscript which was more than hoped for but less than expected.
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"It was my life-long wish to own such a rare piece of Agatha Christie's work."
The hand-typed manuscript of Miss Perry runs to more than 80 pages and has some handwritten corrections believed to be by the Queen of Crime herself.
Mr Stultiëns has shown the manuscript to John Curran, author and archivist of the Agatha Christie archive trust, and believes he may have the author's own master copy.
Mr Stultiëns said: "I read about the existence of the stage play in John Curran's first book where he describes how he found a brief plot description of the play in one of Dame Agatha's notebooks.
"I knew Agatha had been working on the play. I had asked the seller for some pictures and as there were some handwritten corrections in the script.
"I was able to compare her handwriting in the script with all the scans of her notebooks in John Curran's books about Agatha Christie's secret notebooks as you may know.
"I asked him if buying the manuscript was a good idea. His answer to me was, 'congratulations, apart from a copy in the archive, I don't think anyone else has one. It is probably a good investment — although you would probably never sell it anyway'."
Mr Stultiëns runs two websites — www.queenofcrime.com and www.facebook.com/QueenOfCrime — dedicated to Christie's work. He is an avid collector of her work with 5,700 books in almost 60 languages.
He has previously met her grandson Matthew Prichard and has been given a private tour of Greenway with other Christie aficionados.
Mr Stultiëns is planning this ninth trip to Torquay for the annual Agatha Christie Festival.