Agatha Christie's books are being edited to modernize language and remove potentially offensive words and phrases.
Agatha Christie’s stories made a huge comeback via the big-screen thanks to 2017’s Johnny Depp-led feature Murder on the Orient Express and the more recent Gal Godot-starring 2022 film Death on the Nile. Both directed by Kenneth Branaugh, the adaptations stayed true to the famed novelist’s beloved stories but now, according to Deadline, several of these titles are getting a rewrite. With edits already finished, tales surrounding the magnificent detective work of the fictional Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple have been pored over by publisher, HarperCollins, with any possibly offensive material removed.
Already uploaded to a digital platform, the revamped and more with-the-times versions of the books have cut out various texts that contained “descriptions, insults or references to ethnicity, particularly for characters Christie’s protagonists encounter outside the UK.” One change shared in the report was from the title Death on the Nile, in which a reference to “Nubian people” has been scratched along with the switch of the word “native” for “local” as well as the chopping of a handful of descriptions of non-British characters’ physiques. As almost 100 years have passed since Agatha Christie first saw Death on the Nile published, there are sure to be plenty of moments that could use an updated tweaking.
If you’re reading this and thinking that it sounds more than a little bit familiar, that’s because we recently reported on similar changes being made to material from author Roald Dahl and the Ian Fleming-penned James Bond titles. For the latter, it was announced that like Agatha Christie’s original publications, the publishing company, Ian Fleming Publishing, has moved forward with changing a few bits and pieces from the books which initially found their way onto shelves in the 1950s. Included in those changes, which are going to be rolled out for the 70th anniversary of the beloved spy novels, will be the axing of offensive language and terms that may upset readers.
Likewise, Puffin Books recently revealed that they would be changing certain bits of several of Roald Dahl’s classic books including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda to make sure that no one will be triggered or offended by the content. In an example of the former, one of the edits will be found in the description of Augustus Gloop who will now be penned as “enormous” instead of “enormously fat.” And, as we’re sure Puffin Books and Ian Fleming Publishing have found, HarperCollins will certainly feel a pushback from readers who aren’t thrilled that Agatha Christie’s titles will be edited for a new generation.
The good news is that even though some may be more turned off by the latest rollout of edits now being carried out on the tales of Agatha Christie’s legendary sleuths, there’s a good chance that her fandom will continue to grow with a younger generation who can now better find themselves getting lost in the pages of the celebrated author’s novels. There’s also the fact that both Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile have been such massive hits at the worldwide box office that Christie’s stories will never go out of style. As we embark on the next round of edits to better support modern times, let’s remember to go forward with kindness even if the changes may rock someone’s boat.