(born Sept. 15, 1890, Torquay, Devon, Eng.died Jan. 12, 1976, Wallingford, Oxfordshire) British detective novelist and playwright. Her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920), introduced Hercule Poirot, the eccentric Belgian detective who would appear in about 25 novels. The elderly spinster Miss Jane Marple, her other principal detective figure, first appeared in Murder at the Vicarage (1930). Most of her approximately 75 novels, such as Murder on the Orient Express (1933; film, 1978), were best-sellers; translated into 100 languages, they have sold more than 100 million copies. Her plays include The Mousetrap (1952), which set a world record for longest continuous run, and Witness for the Prosecution (1953; film, 1958). She was married to the eminent archaeologist Sir Max Mallowan (190478).