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Monday, November 06, 2006

Agatha Christie and Tenerife

Anyone holidaying in Tenerife is in better company than maybe they imagined, since the world's best-known mystery writer and undisputed 'Queen of Crime', Agatha Christie, was herself a visitor to the island in 1927. While disillusioned with her husband's infidelity, Christie and her daughter, Rosalind, stayed at the Sitio Litre in Puerto de la Cruz, as guests of the Smith family.

Sitio Litre is the oldest garden in Tenerife, founded in the grounds of a mansion dating from 1730. The English merchant Archibald Little bought the house in 1774 and built The Orchid Garden that is now open to the public. The prominent writer was so inspired by the gardens that she based the plot of her collection of stories The Mysterious Mr. Quin (UK Readers) in Puerto de la Cruz.

The Little family sold the house to Charles Smith in 1856 and the Smith family owned the house until the year 1996. The villa is still privately owned. Sitio Litre is famous for long gone garden parties held there with celebrities like William Wilde and his son Oscar Wilde, painter Marianne North and explorer and botanist Alexander Humboldt.

Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories (Paperback) by Agatha Christie
UK Readers
Sitio Litre has a collection of 350 different types of orchids and an exhibition of several paintings on loan from the Royal Kew Gardens, with whom they collaborate on many occasions.

Another of Agatha Christie's works, "The Companion", is described as a short story about two English ladies who go on a holiday in Tenerife, but only one returns home alive. It is included in Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories (UK Readers). In actual fact, if you read the story (the complete text is online, in Spanish, as "La señorita de compañía"), you'll find that it takes place in Gran Canaria, not Tenerife. However, readers will recognize the typical English ladies of the time, "assisted by their Baedeker guides and blind to everything else." They visit the English library and the Anglican Church, wherever they travel!

Visitors to the grand old resort of Puerto de la Cruz would find neither of those "English essentials" lacking however. There is indeed an Anglican Church, as well as The English Library in the Parque de Taoro (next to a British School).

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