Our provincial and island capital, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, this month officially honoured the famous British mystery crime writer, Agatha Christie, by naming a public space after her. The City Council revealed the signage naming Plaza Agatha Christie, near to the La Cícer pedestrian footbridge, to mark the 45th anniversary of her death. 2020 marked the centenary of her first ever published novel. The place chosen recalls the ties that the “first lady” of crime had with the city, and the sea she loved, while staying at the Hotel Metropole here on the island.
The Mayor of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Augusto Hidalgo, along with the Councillor for Culture, Encarna Galván and the Councilor for the Isleta-Puerto Guanarteme District, Luis Zamorano, unveiled the sign on January 12, the 45th anniversary her death, a gesture approved by the city council back in April 2018, as a tribute to one of the greatest writers of all time, the world’s best selling crime novelist, to memorialise her ties to the city and its beaches, her adoration for sea bathing, her passion for surfing, and her long walks throughout the various streets of the capital of Gran Canaria.
Her experiences here on the island and in the archipelago are reflected in her legacy, particularly in her later works and in her claim to have encountered the real Hercule Poirot on a boat here on the islands. It is also stated, in a 1977 biography, that Las Palmas de Gran Canaria features in various adventures, penned by the author, including Miss Marple’s “The Thirteen Problems”. The city captivated here while on the island for a period “of disconnection and personal reflection” following an episode the year before when she went missing, after discovering her husband’s infidelities, and was later found without memory of where she had been.
She first stayed in Tenerife, but then having finished writing the novel “The Mystery of The Blue Train”, which she later described as ‘easily the worst book I ever wrote’; she decided, in the February of 1927, to move to Las Palmas with her 12 year old daughter and her personal secretary. Chrisitie stayed for a week at the Hotel Metropole, which itself features in one of her short stories, The Companion: “…ships from all over the world put in at Las Palmas. Sometimes they stay a few hours, sometimes a day or two. In the principal hotel there, the Metropole, you will see people of all races and nationalities – birds of passage. Even the people going to Tenerife usually come here and stay a few days before crossing to the other island.”
Though The Metropole no longer exists, in its place, beside The British Club, looking out to sea from the old British merchant neighbourhood of Ciudad Jardin, stands the Las Palmas city council building, where a plaque has also been placed.
Her life has also been commemorated by the Culture Department of the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria City Council with the weekly publication of fragments from her writing, throughout last September, marking the 130th anniversary of her birth, last year. The first call for a mystery and detective novel contest was also made, the winners of which were announced this month, pending presentation of the award, planned for a public ceremony that will take place when the “Promotion of the City of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria” publishes the winning novel.
Agatha Christie maintained her links to the island and her happy days here bathing and surfing, with the praise she dedicated to the city, which will from now on always be remembered with this newly named plaza next to the epicenter of the long established British colony that long lay midway between the Port of La Luz and the original old town of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.