And here we are – with one day to go. So I thought I’d provide just the barest bit of background that I could dig up on the novel.
It was originally written in 1939, and Agatha Christie herself described it as one of her best books – but immensely difficult to plot – as you will see for yourself when you read it.
It was a bestseller and still remains so, but it has changed title on several occasions. Partly this is due to the nursery rhyme that inspired the book. When she first wrote it, the book centres around a poem called Ten Little Niggers, and this was the original title of the book. The term wasn’t considered offensive in the UK, but certainly was in the States.
So the book’s title was changed to And Then There Were None for American audiences. This involved not just a title change, however. The original book features ten people who find themselves on a little island off the coast of England called Nigger Island.
So every reference in the book was rewritten to change the island to Indian Island, and the poem (which features heavily in the story) was changed to Ten Little Indians. This will most likely be the version of the story you have got, if you’ve picked it up in Australia or the UK.
However, if you’re in the States, I believe it’s been rewritten since, and the poem now refers to Ten Little Soldiers, and the island is called Soldier Island.
Either way, I hope you have found yourself a version of the book that you won’t be offended by, and we can instead enjoy the remarkable plotting and cleverness of this story which will be celebrating no less than it’s 70th anniversary this year. I think it’s aged astonishingly well. Let me know what you think over the new three weeks.
A bit of housekeeping. I’ll put new posts up on weeknights at 8pm Sydney time. If you have read the book before, please refrain from offering any spoilers of the chapters to come.