CogniFit's Science blog: A Great Mystery: Did Agatha Christie Have Alzheimer's?

A Great Mystery: Did Agatha Christie Have Alzheimer's?

An in-depth analysis of Agatha Christie's novels has suggested that the much-loved author of more than 80 mysteries suffered from Alzheimer's diseases.

Researchers at the university of Toronto discovered that the vocabulary size of the author decreased sharply (by 15 to 30%) as she neared the end of her life, while the repetition of phrases and indefinite word usage (words such as “something,” “thing,” and “anything”) in her novels increased significantly.

The most abrupt decline was seen in the novel Elephants Can Remember, which Christie wrote when she was 81. According to their research, the book contained 30% fewer word types, 18% more repeated phrases, and almost three times as many indefinite words than Destination Unknown, which she wrote at age of 63.

The researchers told Canadian current-affairs magazine Macleans that the title of the novel, a tweaking of the proverb "elephants never forget", also gives a clue that Christie was defensive about her declining mental powers.

This might be a good case for Poirot.