Agatha Christie Is The Next Writer Getting Censored And Changed For Modern Sensitivities

Agatha Christie's classic novels are getting a sensitivity edit.

By Sckylar Gibby-Brown | Updated

Agatha Christie
Death of the Nile

Agatha Christie is next in the line of great authors who are having their books rewritten and changed for modern sensitivities. Second, only to William Shakespeare himself, Christie is the world’s best-selling fiction writer, but even this murder mystery writing queen isn’t safe from revisions, as Deadline recently reported that she is the latest author to have her books sent through a sensitivity edit, following Roald Dahl and Ian Fleming

Agatha Christie’s estate is hopping on the current trend in the publishing world and going through her classic novels and amending the author’s original words so passages are no longer deemed offensive by current-day readers. The trend began when Puffin Books announced that the publishing house and Dahl’s estate would be changing and omitting pieces of Dahl’s original works, amending for any perceived slight readers might interpret, taking out words such as “fat” and changing the description of a witch in Witch from being a “cashier in a supermarket” to a “top scientist.” Ian Fleming’s estate followed suit and celebrated the James Bond books’ 70th anniversary by replacing any derogatory terms for Black people with the terms “Black person” or “Black man.”

Now, Harper Collins, which owns the rights to Agatha Christie’s work, is releasing a new edition of her popular sleuth series following Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, with updated passages that are more appropriate for the modern day. These books were written between the years 1920 and 1976 (the year that Christie died), which obviously was a different time when many terms and phrases that would never be acceptable today were used quite commonly. Per Deadline, Harper Collins will now omit and revise “descriptions, insults or references to ethnicity, particularly for characters Christie’s protagonists encounter outside the UK.”

Kenneth Branagh as Poirot in the movie adaptation of Death of the Nile

In 1937, Agatha Christie wrote Death on the Nile (which was recently made into a movie directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh and featuring Gal Gadot), which takes place in Egypt and references “Nubian people.” Now, that term has been removed, as well as the word “native,” which has been replaced with “local.” Additionally, several descriptions of non-British characters’ physical appearance have been taken out. 

Other changes that have been made to Agatha Christie’s books include the removal of a line where Poirot comments on another character being “a Jew,” and entire sections of dialog spoken by insensitive characters have been cut. 

While there have been no major outcries around the editing announcement for Ian Fleming or Agatha Christie’s books, when Puffin Books first announced the publishing house was editing Roald Dahl’s books, it incited a heated online debate arguing whether or not classic books should be edited at all. Some argued that because Dahl’s books were often the first that young children read independently that the publishing house had a responsibility to keep the books updated to current standards, while others argued that by editing the books, Puffin was changing the author’s original intent and infringing on free speech. At the end of the day, Puffin Books decided to adhere to both sides of the argument and announced it would be releasing two editions of the books: the original, an unedited version, and an updated version.