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Old April 1st, 2006, 10:52 AM
Erland Gadde Erland Gadde is offline
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Old lesbian ladies

In "A murder is announced" there are, among the characters living in the village of Chipping Cleghorn, two old ladies living together, Miss Hinchliffe and Miss Murgatroyd. Of these two, Miss Hinchliffe is the dominant one. She has quite masculine manners, and she is also tall as a man, almost. Miss Murgatroyd, on the other hand, is quite whimsical and feminine in a stereotypic way. It's clear that there is a lot of affection between them, which is clearly shown when Miss Murgatroyd gets killed, and Miss Hinchliffe tries to personally attack the revealed killer, again a quite masuline behaviour.
I'm not sure, but I think there are similar couples of old ladies in other Christie novels. (In "A murder is announced", we also have Miss Blacklock and Miss Bunner, but it's not quite as clear in their case.)

Now, I think that Miss Hinchliffe and Miss Murgatroyd (and similar couples in other novels, if there are any) are lesbians, but that Agatha Christie was unaware of that!

What do I mean with this? The ladies were invented by Agatha Christie, so how can she be unaware of what her own characters are like?

Well, what I mean is that Miss Hinchliffe and Miss Murgatroyd were modelled upon real persons Agatha Christie knew of, and that these real persons were lesbians, without Agatha realizing that.

I got this idea when I learned from TV that there are couples of old ladies living together on the countryside (in this case it was in northern Sweden) who are lesbians, but because of prejudice they never revealed the true nature of their relationship to their neighbours. I don't think that Sweden and England are very different in this respect, and that such a secrecy must have been much more necessary decades ago when Agatha Christie wrote her novels. So I think that Miss Hinchliffe and Miss Murgatroyd were modelled upon such sectretly lesbian couples.

I've read most of Agatha Christies novels, and I can't recall that homosexuality is ever mentioned in any of them. It's certainly not mentioned in "A murder is announced". This makes me believe that homosexuality never existed in the thoughts of Agatha. Although she certainly did know it existed, she probably thought it only existed among odd and fringe people, and she probably never even got the idea that nice old ladies on the countryside could be lesbians.

Recently, I found on the net that homosexuality is actually mentioned in some novel of Christie, but that's certainly exceptional, and I think my hypothesis is still valid...

Also, I found on the net that in a new adaptation for the screen of "A murder is announced", Miss Hinchliffe and Miss Murgatroyd are made openly lesbian. But that's probably because the movie makers made the same conclusion as I did...and homosexuality is, fortunately, more accepted today than during Agatha's lifetime.


Erland Gadde
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Old April 26th, 2006, 09:56 AM
robert@fm robert@fm is offline
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Re: Old lesbian ladies

I think the date on which this thread was started is highly significant.
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Old April 26th, 2006, 12:28 PM
Erland Gadde Erland Gadde is offline
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Re: Old lesbian ladies

It isn't, actually. It's a pure coincidence...
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Old April 26th, 2006, 12:31 PM
Archer Brisbane Archer Brisbane is offline
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Re: Old lesbian ladies

However, if it were started on June 9th... (sorry!)
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Old July 21st, 2006, 06:35 AM
Erland Gadde Erland Gadde is offline
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Re: Old lesbian ladies

The Miss Marple-series with Geraldine McEvan is now shown in Swedish TV. "The body in the library" was shown at wednesday night.
Interestingly enough, the producers changed the plot from the book, to include lesbianism, which isn't in the book, as I recall it.

Spoiler
In the book, as I remember it (I was a long time ago I read it), Josie Turner and Mark Gaskell are the killers, them being lovers. But in the TV-episode, Josie Turner and Addie Jefferson are the killers, them being lesbian lovers. Otherwise, the plot follows the book, as I recall it.
That's quite an extraordinary change of the plot!


"A murder is announced", in this series, is not yet shown in Swedish TV, but I saw on the net that open lesbianism is to expect in this episode, this lesbianism being at most hinted in the book.

I wonder what is the producers reason for including this lesbianism, that isn't in the books....


Erland
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Old July 21st, 2006, 05:39 PM
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Re: Old lesbian ladies

I just watched Murder is Announched yesterday (the McEwan version), and I don't recall any "lesbianism" at all. Although, there was some hinted at offscreen homosexuality goings-on.
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Old August 4th, 2006, 02:55 AM
Erland Gadde Erland Gadde is offline
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Re: Old lesbian ladies

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave
I just watched Murder is Announched yesterday (the McEwan version), and I don't recall any "lesbianism" at all. Although, there was some hinted at offscreen homosexuality goings-on.
I watched it at Swedish TV at July 26. I think it was clearly hinted that Hinchcliffe and Mutgatroyd were a lesbian coulpe. They lived together, they kissed once, and Hinchcliffe showed clear signs of jealousy when miss Marple came to stay at their place (not erotic jealousy, of course, but attentional). That miss Marple was miss Murgatroyd's aunt and stayed with here was a difference from the book. Also, the two ladies were quite young in TV-show, they were supposed to be much older in the book, this perhaps making a lesbian relationship apperaring more "reasonable" to the viewers.


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Erland
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Old August 4th, 2006, 10:17 AM
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Re: Old lesbian ladies

Now that I think about it, it was The Moving Finger that I watched, not A Murder is Announced. I did see A Murder is Announced some time ago and now that I think about those two did seem to have some type of relationship going on.
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Old January 18th, 2007, 01:52 PM
robert@fm robert@fm is offline
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Re: Old lesbian ladies

I recently reread A Murder is Announced, and it does indeed seem that Hinchcliffe and Murgatroyd are a lesbian couple.

Incidentally, although Rudi Scherz is Swiss, his surname is one letter short of the Italian for "joke".
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Old January 18th, 2007, 02:11 PM
Archer Brisbane Archer Brisbane is offline
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Re: Old lesbian ladies

Yes, A Murder is Announced is one of the stories in which the adaptors did not have to reach far (or at all) to find gay subtext. However, there are several of the recent adaptations which are just plain making it up (which is not always a problem, but at times damages Christie's careful design).
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Old January 21st, 2007, 03:06 PM
Erland Gadde Erland Gadde is offline
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Re: Old lesbian ladies

Does anyone of you recall any other hinted lesbian couple than Hinchliffe and Murgatroyd in any Christie novel (Note: novel, not movie or TV-adaptation)? I haven't found any more such couple yet...


Regards,

Erland
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Old September 1st, 2008, 12:32 AM
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medunnit medunnit is offline
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Re: Old lesbian ladies

well, can't really point out "old lesbian ladies", but Mousetrap has a gay guy as one of the protagonists, and Harley Quinn (irrespective of his state of existence!) seems to be at least bisexual. Nemesis has lesbianism (implied) as a main murder motive.
Agatha Christie's attitude towards same-gender couples was perhaps a little in advance of her times, but not much. Use of the q-word in A Carribean Mystery was a little unsettling, but of course it was nothing compared to the bitter homophobia found in Chandler. I would have loved Farewell, My Lovely and The Big Sleep had they not been so rabidly anti-gay.
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