Jane Marple, usually referred to as Miss Marple, is a fictional character appearing in twelve of Agatha Christie's crime novels. Miss Marple is an elderly spinster who lives in the village of St. Mary Mead and acts as an amateur detective. She is one of the most famous of Christie's characters and has been portrayed numerous times on screen. Her first published appearance was in issue 350 of The Royal Magazine for December 1927 with the first printing of the short story "The Tuesday Night Club," which later became the first chapter of The Thirteen Problems (1932). Her first appearance in a full-length novel was in The Murder at the Vicarage in 1930.
Miss Jane Marple is an elderly lady who lives in the little English village St. Mary Mead. Superficially stereotypical, she is dressed neatly in tweed and is frequently seen knitting or pulling weeds in her garden. Miss Marple sometimes comes across as confused or "fluffy", but when it comes to solving mysteries, she has a sharp logical mind, and an almost unmatched understanding of human nature with all its weaknesses, strengths, quirks and foibles. In the detective story tradition, she often embarrasses the local "professional" police by solving mysteries that have them stumped.
Tape recordings Christie made in the mid 1960s reveal that 'Miss Marple' was partly based on Christie's grandmother. However, there is no definitive source for the derivation of the name 'Marple'. The most common explanation suggests that the name was taken from the railway station in Marple, Stockport, through which Christie passed, with the alternative account that Christie took it from the home of a Marple family who lived at Marple Hall, near her sister Madge's home at Abney Hall. Agatha Christie attributed the inspiration for the character of Miss Marple to a number of sources: Miss Marple was "the sort of old lady who would have been rather like some of my grandmother's Ealing cronies – old ladies whom I have met in so many villages where I have gone to stay as a girl". Christie also used material from her fictional creation, spinster Caroline Sheppard, who appeared in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. When Michael Morton adapted Roger Ackroyd for the stage, he removed the character of Caroline replacing her with a young girl. This change saddened Christie and she determined to give old maids a voice: Miss Marple was born.
The character of Jane Marple in the first Miss Marple book, The Murder at the Vicarage, is markedly different from how she appears in later books. This early version of Miss Marple is a gleeful gossip and not an especially nice woman. The citizens of St. Mary Mead like her but are often tired by her nosy nature and how she seems to expect the worst of everyone. In later books she becomes more modern and a kinder person.
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