Books

Ten Little Niggers – Agatha Christie

First of all, it is not my intention to offend anyone with the title of this book. However I have chosen to start from the beginning of the book and this in fact is the original title when it was first published in November 1939 in the UK. In the US the title was changed to the one we are now more familiar with – due to the fact that nigger was racially offensive in the US. Ironically, it also meant that subsequent publications went to Ten Little Indians in the UK, to the one that the novel is known by now –  And Then There Were None.

The title although seemingly insignificant plays a part in the overall story. For those who do not know the rhyme, Christie does show it again in the book – I have taken this version from Wikipedia and it uses Indian instead of Nigger.

Ten little Indian Boys went out to dine;
One choked his little self and then there were nine.

Nine little Indian Boys sat up very late;
One overslept himself and then there were eight.

Eight little Indian Boys travelling in Devon;
One said he’d stay there and then there were seven.

Seven little Indian Boys chopping up sticks;
One chopped himself in halves and then there were six.

Six little Indian Boys playing with a hive;
A bumblebee stung one and then there were five.

Five little Indian Boys going in for law;
One got in Chancery and then there were four.

Four little Indian Boys going out to sea;
A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.

Three little Indian Boys walking in the zoo;
A big bear hugged one and then there were two.

Two little Indian Boys sitting in the sun;
One got frizzled up and then there was one.

One little Indian Boy left all alone;
He went out and hanged himself and then there were none.

And yet I have not even touched upon the novel itself, which is said to be one of Christie’s masterpieces and without a doubt is, now I have finally got round to reading it. Remembering that it does not feature any of her well-known detectives, Poirot, Miss Marple or Tommy and Tuppence.

So what of the book, well actually how can you write a review for a book which will basically give away the whole plot and for me the simple answer is you cannot. It has twists and turns, you think you know the answer but then you don’t. Then you know the answer but you are not sure if it is the right one or not. I was left feeling bewildered but in a satisfied way. A book which Christie said herself “It was so difficult to do,” she writes, “that the idea had fascinated me.” 

All you need to know is this:

Ten strangers, apparently with little in common, are lured to an island mansion off the coast of Devon by the mysterious U.N.Owen. Over dinner, a record begins to play, and the voice of an unseen host accuses each person of hiding a guilty secret.

And Then There Were None was voted the World’s Favourite Christie in a recent online poll to mark 125 years since the birth of the author.

It is also in  the process of being adapted into a 3 part, BBC television drama, which is destined to hit our screens according to IMDB on the 27 December 2015.

So now I have read it, I am all ready to watch the programme and pick holes where necessary and see if they change anything of significance.

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3 thoughts on “Ten Little Niggers – Agatha Christie

  1. To have to change the title once owing to changing lingustic and social sensitivities is bad enough; to have to change it twice is very unfortunate. I guess it demonstrates Christies longevity.

  2. This was one of the first Agatha Christie novels I read and I think it’s still my favourite. It’s such a clever book! I can’t wait to see the new BBC adaptation.

  3. I read this one back in the early 1970s and remember really liking it. It had the original title but sadly I gave my copy away, it was a paperback and I think it had golliwogs on the cover, definitely taboo now but I’ve always loved gollies which for me were just lovely cuddly toys.

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