Friday 13th September 2024, 12:00pm

Agatha Christie and the Crime That Dare Not Speak Its Name

Caroline Derry’s talk will explore how Agatha Christie represented lesbians in her post-war novels, and the insights they offer into the criminal justice system’s attitudes to lesbianism.

Several Agatha Christie novels depict lesbian relationships. The best-known, A Murder is Announced (1950) and Nemesis (1971), portray them very differently. The contrast between the devoted and socially accepted couple in A Murder is Announced and the dysfunctional love at the heart of Nemesis is stark.

In the same period, the criminal law’s approach to relationships between women also changed. Nonetheless, it seemed to lag several decades behind medical and sexological developments. By looking at Christie’s novels and real-life cases together, we can see that this was not simply a symptom of out-of-touch judges. The reasons, to be discussed in this talk, are both more complex and more interesting!

Caroline Derry is a senior lecturer in criminal law at The Open University, author of Lesbianism and the Criminal Law: Three centuries of regulation in England and Wales, and a lifelong fan of Agatha Christie.


Getting to the venue

The Spanish Barn is in the grounds of Torre Abbey. This is on Torquay seafront and walkable from most hotels in the area. It is also right next to Torquay Train Station. The nearest car park is Torre Valley - Torbay Council


There is a drop-off point and limited parking within the grounds for disabled visitors. Entry to the Spanish Barn is relatively level, but there are a few cobble stones to cross, before entering the completely flat interior. We have space for wheelchairs, although if you let us know in advance, we can ensure that there is ample dedicated space for the number of wheelchair users.

We have also raised the height of the main stage this year, so that guest speakers can easily be seen. We also have two TV screens midway down the barn screening what is happening on the stage. We also have a disabled toilet available to the rear of the Spanish Barn.

If you have any particular access requirements or enquiries, do please get in touch and we will do whatever we feasibly can to accommodate you. Please email