Friday, January 15, 2010

Agatha Christie and her Welsh Grandson

In 1951 a young Welsh boy named Mathew Prichard was taken by his grandmother to see his first play. It was a birthday treat. The drama was Black Coffee by Agatha Christie and it was being staged at the Prince of Wales Theatre, Cardiff. It came as no surprise to the boy that his gran knew every twist and turn of the plot – after all, she had written it 25 years previously. The cast were, apparently, rather nervous knowing that Agatha Christie was sitting on the balcony assessing their every move. But at the play’s conclusion she went backstage accompanied by her grandson and congratulated them on their performance.

In 1952 Christie’s most famous play The Mousetrap opened in London. It is still going strong today, of course. Amazingly Christie signed the lucrative global rights to The Mousetrap over to her Welsh grandson as a present on his 9th birthday. Prichard (now chairman of Agatha Christie Ltd) has used royalties earned from The Mousetrap to promote the arts in Wales. In 1995 he set up the Colwinston Charitable Trust to further this end. The Welsh National Opera, Wales Millennium Centre, and Chapter Arts, amongst others, have benefited from the trust’s financial support.

Incidentally, the Colwinston Charitable Trust is named after Colwinston in the Vale of Glamorgan. This is the village where Prichard lived as a boy and a place which Agatha Christie often visited. The picturesque village even inspired episodes in a couple of her books: The Hollow and Endless Night.

The Prince of Wales Theatre where Agatha Christie once watched her own play is now a Wetherspoon pub.