A long-lost essay by Agatha Christie that was commissioned by the government in 1945 to sing the praises of British crime fiction has finally seen the light of day.
Christie's essay, in which she extols the virtues of the British detective story, has been published for the first time in the UK as the preface to the reissued 1933 collaborative crime novel Ask a Policeman. "I discovered it in 1997 going through her archive but never had an opportunity to publish it," said David Brawn, who publishes Christie at HarperCollins. "Although it was published in a Russian magazine in 1947, it's never been seen in the UK before. She was commissioned to write it by the Ministry of Information in Britain in order to seed it out internationally – it's really a piece of propaganda; they were trying, I guess, to extol the virtues of the British and western way of life, and so the government asked her to write this essay about the crime-writing genre."
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