Rosalind Margaret Clarissa Hicks (Christie) (1919 - 2004)

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About Rosalind Margaret Clarissa Hicks (Christie)

Rosalind Margaret Clarissa Hicks (née Christie) was the only child of author Agatha Christie, and from the time of Christie's death in 1976 worked to maintain and strengthen the reputation of her mother as a literary figure, and to protect the integrity of her works.

Hicks was born in Torquay, England to Agatha and Archibald Christie. Although she grew up with her mother's fame, she was never comfortable with it, and attempted to live her life with as much privacy as possible. In her later years, she recalled being traumatised by her mother's well publicised disappearance in 1926, and the suggestion that she had met with foul play at the hand of her husband. When Mrs Christie returned with amnesia it only fuelled the interest of the media and subjected the family to closer scrutiny. Hicks said in the late 1980s that her mother had never been able to discuss the events of her disappearance with her, as she had no memory of them, which made her eventual decision to authorise a biography on her mother's life very difficult.

Hicks remained on good terms with her father after her parents were divorced, but became close to her mother's second husband, the archaeologist Max Mallowan, and as a young woman considered following a similar career. In 1941 she married Hubert Prichard, a soldier with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, and was widowed in 1944 when he was killed in battle. For several years she raised her son Mathew alone, until she married Anthony Hicks in 1949.

She moved to Devon in 1968 to be near to her ageing mother and stepfather. Christie had set up a limited company to hold the rights to her works, and had sold the majority. She kept a minority share which allowed her right of veto to any treatment or new publication of her work. Upon Agatha Christie's death in 1976, Hicks inherited this right of veto, and took the role of protector of the integrity of these works.

She established a reputation as a forthright and occasionally fierce woman, who fought to ensure that the books and plays her mother had written would not be exploited, and that any projects that made use of them, would not alter or discredit them.

In 1978 she was unsuccessful in her legal challenge to prevent the filming of Agatha (1979) in which Vanessa Redgrave played Christie in a fictionalised story of her disappearance. After several years of refusals Hicks finally agreed in the early 1980s to allow a biography to be written about Agatha Christie. This resulted in a publication in 1984 by author Janet Morgan which received generally positive reviews but which was also criticised for failing to address the question of the mystery of Christie's disappearance.

In 1995 Hicks took action against a company that was planning a film production of the novel Towards Zero, in which the setting would be updated to the current year and topics such as incest would be introduced. Hicks' action led to the company changing the name of the production, as well as the names of all the major characters. The company was also denied the right to use the name "Agatha Christie" in any way. The film was released under the title Innocent Lies and was met with moderate success.

Hicks founded, and was the president of the Agatha Christie Society from 1993 until her death. David Suchet and Joan Hickson were Vice Presidents. Her stated aim was to ensure Christie's works did not suffer from excessive commercialisation or trivialisation.

She lived in Christie's 278 acre (1.1 km²)estate "Greenway", on the River Dart, from 1968 until her death, however in 2000 she transferred much of the land to the National Trust. During their time at "Greenway" the Hicks established a garden which the National Trust opened to the public in 2002.

At her death in 2004, Rosalind Hicks was survived by her husband, and her son Mathew Prichard. At the time of her death it was reported that her estate was valued at 600 million pounds sterling, and that Prichard, who also owned the rights to Christie's record breaking play The Mousetrap was principal heir.

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