Agatha Christie

The house of Collins acquired “Queen of Crime” Agatha Christie after she disagreed with her former publisher over the spelling of “coco”/”cocoa” in her first book, The Mysterious Affair at Styles. She was also angry that she had not been consulted regarding the jacket design of a subsequent book, and felt trapped by the unfavorable terms of her contract.

It was the mid-1920s, and publishers were seeing growing public interest in crime and detective fiction. Collins sought to strengthen its catalog of detective stories, and Billy Collins lured Christie in 1924 with a three-book contract and a £200 advance. Two years later, Christie’s seminal The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was published, with a shocking twist that was to make detective Hercule Poirot a household name. “My most successful to date,” Christie later wrote in regard to the book.

Agatha Christie became, and remains, the best-selling novelist of all time. Her books have sold over a billion copies in the English language and a billion in more than 100 foreign languages. Christie once joked that she had “made more money out of murder than any woman since Lucrezia Borgia.” She remained with Collins until she died, leaving behind more than 80 books. HarperCollins acquired world English rights to her works in 2010.