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September 16, 2022

Did You Know Agatha Christie Was a Keen Surfer?

Agatha Christie (1890–1976), the best-selling novelist of all time, creator of such characters as Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot, was also one of England’s first woman surfers.

When asked about surfing, Agatha replied, “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.”

Agatha was born in Devon in 1890, where she spent her childhood swimming in the sea off the coast around Torquay.

After World War I, Agatha and her husband Archie set off on a year-long round-the-world trip as part of a trade mission of the British Empire Expedition. Their first stop was in South Africa where they took up bellyboarding.

They continued their travels, stopping in Australia and New Zealand, and arriving in Honolulu in August 1922. Agatha and her husband learned to ride surfboards standing up at Waikiki. The boards in the 1920s were more difficult to ride than those of today. They were finless, solid wooden planks around 10 feet long weighing as much as 100 pounds.

Agatha described the first few days surfing as painful, mixed with moments of utter joy. “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. Oh, the moment of complete triumph on the day that I kept my balance and came right into shore standing upright on my board!”

Agatha and Archie loved surfing so much that they extended their stay in Hawaii for three additional months so they could continue to learn and become proficient at surfing.

She is seen here at Waikiki Beach, Honolulu in 1922. She borrowed a board from a surfer named Fred. She said it meant a great deal to her because Fred was the name of her father, Frederick Alvah Miller, who died when she was ten years old.


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