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And Then There Were None is a detective fiction novel by Agatha Christie, first published in the United Kingdom by the Collins Crime Club on 6 November 1939 under the title Ten Little Ni**ers, later edited to Ten Little Indians, and in the United States by Dodd, Mead and Company in January 1940 under the title And Then There Were None. In the novel, ten people, who have previously been complicit in the deaths of others but have escaped notice and/or punishment, are tricked into coming onto an island. Even though the guests are the only people on the island, they are all mysteriously murdered one by one, in a manner paralleling, inexorably and sometimes grotesquely, the old nursery rhyme, "Ten Little Indians". The UK edition retailed at seven shillings and sixpence (7/6) and the US edition at $2.00. The novel has also been published and filmed under the title Ten Little Indians.

It is Christie's best-selling novel with 100 million sales to date, making it the world's best-selling mystery and the seventh most popular book of all time. It has been adapted into several plays, films, and a video game.

Plot summary[]

(may contain spoilers - click on expand to read)

Eight people of different social classes: Mr Marston, General MacArthur, Miss Emily Brent, Justice Wargrave, Dr Armstrong, Ex-inspector Blore, Mr Lombard and Miss Vera Claythorne have been invited to a mansion on the fictional Soldier Island ("Ni**er Island" in the original 1939 UK publication, "Indian Island" in the 1940 US publication), which is based upon Burgh Island off the coast of Devon.

Upon arriving, they are told that their hosts, a Mr. and Mrs. U.N.Owen (Ulick Norman Owen and Una Nancy Owen), are currently away, but that the guests will be attended to by Thomas and Ethel Rogers. Each guest finds in his or her room an odd bit of bric-a-brac and a framed copy of the nursery rhyme "Ten Little Soldiers" ("Ni**ers" or "Indians" in respective earlier editions) hanging on the wall.

Ten little Soldier boys went out to dine;
One choked his little self and then there were nine.

Nine little Soldier boys sat up very late;
One overslept himself and then there were eight.

Eight little Soldier boys traveling in Devon;
One said he'd stay there and then there were seven.

Seven little Soldier boys chopping up sticks;
One chopped himself in halves and then there were six.

Six little Soldier boys playing with a hive;
A bumble bee stung one and then there were five.

Five little Soldier boys going in for law;
One got in Chancery and then there were four.

Four little Soldier boys going out to sea;
A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.

Three little Soldier boys walking in the zoo;
A big bear hugged one and then there were two.

Two Little Soldier boys sitting in the sun;
One got frizzled up and then there was one.

One little Soldier boy left all alone;
He went and hanged himself and then there were none.

Before dinner that evening, the guests notice ten soldier (etc.) figurines on the dining room table. After dinner, a gramophone record plays, informing the ten that each is guilty of murder. Each guest acknowledges awareness of (and, in some cases, involvement with) the deaths of the persons mentioned, but denies either malice and/or legal culpability.

The guests realize they have been tricked into coming to the island, but find that they cannot leave: the boat which regularly delivers supplies has stopped arriving. They are murdered one by one, each murder paralleling a verse of the nursery rhyme, and one of the ten figurines being removed after each murder.

First to die is Anthony Marston, whose drink is poisoned with cyanide ("one choked his little self"). That night, Thomas Rogers notices that a figurine is missing from the dining table. Mrs. Rogers dies in her sleep that night, which Dr. Armstrong attributes to a fatal overdose of sleeping draught ("one overslept himself"). General MacArthur fatalistically predicts that no one will leave the island alive, and at lunch, is indeed found dead from a blow to the back of the skull ("one said he'd stay there"). Meanwhile, two more figurines have disappeared from the dining room. In growing panic, the survivors search the island in vain for the murderer. Justice Wargrave establishes himself as a decisive leader of the group and asserts that one of them must be the murderer playing a sadistic game with the rest. The killer's twisted humor is evidenced by the names of their "hosts": "U.N. Owen" is a pun on "unknown". The next morning, Rogers is missing, as is another figurine. He is found dead in the woodshed, struck in the head with an axe ("one chopped himself in halves"). Later that day, Emily Brent is killed in the kitchen by an injection of potassium cyanide that leaves a mark on her neck ("a bumblebee stung one"). The hypodermic needle is found outside her window next to a smashed china figurine. The five survivors — Dr. Armstrong, Justice Wargrave, Philip Lombard, Vera Claythorne, and ex-Inspector Blore — become increasingly frightened.

Wargrave suggests they lock up any potential weapons, including Armstrong's medical equipment and the judge's own sleeping pills. Lombard admits to bringing a revolver to the island but says it has gone missing. Resolved to keep the killer from catching anyone alone, they gather in the drawing room and only leave one at a time. Vera goes up to her room and discovers a strand of seaweed: an allusion to the boy the gramophone alleged she had drowned. Her screams attract the attention of Blore, Lombard, and Armstrong, who rush to her aid. When they return to the drawing room, they find Wargrave in a mockery of a judicial wig and gown with a gunshot wound in his forehead ("one got into Chancery"). Armstrong confirms the death, and they lay Wargrave's body in his room. Shortly afterward, Lombard discovers his revolver has been returned.

That night, Blore hears someone sneaking out of the house. He and Lombard investigate and, discovering Armstrong missing, assume the doctor is the killer. They wake Vera and the three spend the night outdoors. In the morning, Blore leaves for food and does not return. Vera and Lombard soon discover his body on the front lawn, skull crushed by a bear-shaped clock ("a big bear hugged one") - and on the shore, Armstrong, drowned ("a red herring swallowed one").

Paranoia overriding logic [neither could have killed Blore], each assumes the other is the murderer. In the tense standoff that follows, Vera feigns compassion and has Lombard help her move Armstrong's body out of the water, using the opportunity to relieve him of his revolver. She kills Lombard on the beach ("sitting in the sun") and returns to the house. Dazed and disoriented, Vera is unsurprised to find a noose prepared in her room. In a trance of exhaustion, guilt, and relief, she hangs herself, fulfilling the final verse of the rhyme.

Epilogue[]

The detective in charge of the Soldier Island case, Inspector Maine, discusses the mystery with his Assistant Commissioner, Sir Thomas Legge, at Scotland Yard. There are no clues on the mainland - the man who arranged "U.N. Owen's" purchase of the island covered his tracks well, and was killed the day the party set sail - and while guests' diaries and coroner's report help establish a partial timeline for the first six victims from Marston to Wargrave, the police cannot determine the order in which Blore, Armstrong, Lombard, and Vera were killed: Inclement weather would have prevented the murderer from leaving or arriving separately from the guests: he or she must have been among them; yet the paradox evidence is that someone was alive after the last four victims were killed -which is impossible: Blore could not have dropped the clock on himself; Armstrong's body was dragged above the high-tide mark; Lombard was shot on the beach, but his revolver was found outside Wargrave's room. Lombard's gun having Vera's fingerprints and the clock that killed Blore came from her room point to Vera as "U.N.Owen"-yet evidence that someone was still alive after Vera's suicide is that the chair Vera used to hang herself had been righted and replaced against the wall. Yet all the murders appear to be accounted for, and the inspectors are baffled.

Postscript[]

A fishing trawler finds a letter in a bottle just off the Devon coast: the confession of the late Justice Wargrave. He reveals a lifelong sadistic temperament juxtaposed uneasily with a fierce sense of justice: he wanted to torture, terrify, and kill, but could never justify harming an innocent. As a judge, he directed merciless summations and guilty verdicts but limited to those cases in which he has satisfied himself of the guilt of the defendant(s), thrilling at the sight of the convicted person crippled with fear, facing their impending death. But the proxy of the bench was unsatisfying: Wargrave longed to commit murder by his own hand. Prompted to action by the discovery that he was terminally ill, he sought killers who had escaped justice and lured them to the island. As he killed them one by one, he revealed in the mounting terror of those who remained, their reactions to the murders confirming their guilt to his extensive judicial experience. He also kills the guests by order of their level of guilt, first killing those whose crimes were less direct or out of carelessness, or who felt some level of remorse and saving the most cold-blooded killers for last.

Having disposed of the first five guests, the judge then persuaded the trusting Armstrong to fake Wargrave's own death, "the red herring", under the pretext that it would rattle the "real murderer". That night, he met Armstrong on the cliffs and pushed him into the sea, knowing the doctor's disappearance would provoke the suspicions of the others. From Vera's room, Wargrave pushed the stone bear-shaped clock onto Blore, crushing his skull. He then watched Vera shoot Lombard. He also watched as Vera hanged herself. Wargrave pushed the chair she stood on against the wall, wrote out his confession, put the letter in a bottle and tossed it out the sea. Wargrave admits to craving posthumous recognition of his scheme. Even if his letter is not found, he argues that three clues exist implicating him, although he surmises (correctly) that the mystery will not have been solved:

  1. Wargrave was the only one invited to the island who had not wrongfully caused someone's death. Edward Seton, whom the gramophone accused Wargrave of wrongfully sentencing to death, was, in fact, guilty of the murder for which he was convicted, and overwhelming proof emerged, albeit posthumously, of this. Thus, ironically,by paradox reasoning, the only "innocent" guest must be the murderer!
  2. The "red herring" line in the poem suggests that Armstrong was tricked into his death by someone he trusted. Of the remaining guests, only the respectable Justice Wargrave would have inspired the doctor's confidence.
  3. The red mark on Wargrave's forehead that Armstrong confirmed as a bullet wound is similar to the one God bestowed upon Cain as punishment for killing his brother Abel [i.e. Cain being the first "murderer" in history-thus Wargrave "wound" points to him as "U.N. Owen"!]

Wargrave describes how he plans to kill himself: he will loop an elastic cord through the gun, tying one end of the cord to his eyeglasses, and looping the other around the doorknob of an open door. He will then wrap a handkerchief around the handle of the gun and shoot himself in the head. His body will fall back as though laid there by Armstrong. The gun's recoil will send it to the doorknob and out into the hallway, detaching the cord and pulling the door closed. The cord will dangle innocuously from his glasses; the stray handkerchief should not arouse suspicion. Thus the police will find ten dead bodies and an unsolvable mystery on Soldier Island.

Order of the Deaths[]

Wargrave rated his victims' degree of guilt leaving the worst for last so they would suffer most. Marston, a mindless as well as conscienceless killer by carelessness is put down first like a dangerous animal. Mrs. Rogers, the tool of her husband, is given a relatively merciful death as is General MacArthur whose crime was one of passion. Mr. Rogers, a killer for gain, suffers a bloody death and Miss Brent, the self-righteous killer, is on the verge of breakdown before she dies. The final five are all guilty of betraying a trust; Dr. Armstrong killed a patient by his drunken negligence; Blore, a police officer, gave false testimony against an innocent man; Lombard betrayed men under his command, colored or not; but Wargrave judged Vera Claythorne the worst of the lot for killing a child in her care.

The 'Ten Little Soldier Boys'[]

The list is organised in order of death, detailing each of the Soldier Boy's past misdeeds and manner of dying, but with no spoilers as to the identity of U. N. Owen.

# Name and description Invitation Crime Verse Death
1 Anthony James Marston
A good-looking young man with a well-proportioned body, crisp hair, tanned face and blue eyes, compared to a Norse god. He was born to a wealthy family. Invited to a grand party by Badger Berkeley, a friend who was bound to Norway and had always been good at sniffing out people with money. Running over and killing two children, John and Lucy Combes. Known for his reckless driving, drunkeness and amoral behavivor, Marston not only felt no remorse: he couldn't even remember the incident. Instead, he was more interested in how he had been suspended from driving. Ten little Soldier boys went out to dine / One choked his little self and then there were nine. Choked to death on the evening of Day 1, after consuming potassium cyanide that had been thrown into his whiskey glass.
2 Mrs Ethel Rogers
The cook and Thomas Rogers's wife. She is described as a pale-faced, ghostlike woman with shifty light eyes, who is scared easily, as if 'afraid of her own shadow'. Along with her husband, she was hired as domestic help by U. N. Owen through The Regina Agency in Plymouth. Despite her respectability and efficiency, she was obliged to help her domineering husband, Thomas, to kill their former elderly employer, Miss Jennifer Brady, by withholding her amyl nitrate medicine, in order to inherit her money. After hearing the accusation, Mrs Rogers faints of terror. Nine little Soldier boys sat up very late / One overslept himself and then there were eight. Died peacefully in her sleep, in the night between Day 1 and Day 2, having been given chloral hydrate by Mr Owen.
3 General John Gordon MacArthur
A lonely, retired World War I hero. Invited by U. N. Owen to talk about 'the old times' in the war. To give credibility, the letter mentioned two of his old cronies from the Regiment. He sent his wife's lover, Arthur Richmond (also a soldier), to his death by assigning him to a suicide mission. Despite getting away with it, Macarthur's actions were suspected by a fellow soldier, and Mr Owen later heard of the story from two old soldiers at his club. Of all the victims he comes the closest to experiencing genuine remorse for what he had done. He fatalistically accepts that no one will leave the island alive and is frankly relieved that his sufferings of conscience and social ostracism will finally end. Eight little Soldier boys traveling in Devon / One said he'd stay there and then there were seven. While sitting alone by the shore before dinner on Day 2, his head is painlessly crushed by a stone.
4 Mr Thomas Rogers
A grey-haired, respectable butler and Ethel Rogers's husband. Along with his wife, he was hired as domestic help by U. N. Owen through The Regina Agency in Plymouth. He and his weak-willed wife, whom he dominated, killed their former elderly employer by withholding her amyl nitrate medicine, causing the elderly woman to die from heart failure, to inherit the money she had left them in her will. Until his death, Rogers denies all involvement, proclaiming the accusation to be a wicked lie. Seven little Soldier boys chopping up sticks / One chopped himself in halves and then there were six. Killed with an axe blow to the back of his head while chopping wood in the woodshed, in the early hours of Day 3.
5 Emily Caroline Brent
A rigid, repressed elderly woman of harsh moralistic principles who uses the Bible to justify her cruelty. Got a letter from an acquiantance she met at the Belhaven Guest House, who invited her to stay at her newly-opened guest house on Soldier Island. The signature 'U. N. O–' was quite illegible, leading Miss Brent to think her hostess's name was Mrs Oliver or Miss Ogden. She dismissed her maid, Beatrice Taylor, as punishment for becoming pregnant out of wedlock. Beatrice then threw herself into a river and drowned. Miss Brent only explains the incident to Vera Claythorne, feeling no guilt whatsoever. As the tension mounts, however, she is haunted by the memory of the dead girl. Six little Soldier boys playing with a hive / A bumble bee stung one and then there were five. Killed by an injection of potassium cyanide into the neck, as she sat alone at the dining table in the afternoon of Day 3. A bumblebee brought in a matchbox is added to the room by Mr Owen to complete the scene.
6 Justice Lawrence John Wargrave
An old retired judge, well known for liberally handing out the death penalty. Judicious and acerbic in his speech, tortoise-like in appearance. Was invited to stay at Soldier Island by his friend, Lady Constance Culmington, with whom he lost touch after she moved to Syria. He is accused of murder due to his summation and jury directions of one accused murderer Edward Seton. There were some doubts about Seton's guilt at the time of the trial and Wargrave's verdict was considered vindictive. When confronted, the judge denies having known Seton beforehand and proclaims simply handing out justice. Five little Soldier boys going in for law / One got in Chancery and then there were four. He was found shot in his forehead in the evening of Day 3, 'getting in Chancery' by dressed in a red bathroom curtain (a judge's gown) and a wig fashioned out of Miss Brent's missing grey wool.
7 Dr Edward George Armstrong
A successful yet tired Harley Street surgeon in his prime. He is described as less strong that either Blore or Lombard. Got a letter from Ulick Norman Owen, inviting the doctor to come, observe and discreetly ascertain what ailment is plaguing his wife. Blamed for the death of Miss Louisa Clees, a patient. The doctor denies all involvement, but actually remembers well that her death could have easily been prevented, since he was operating on her under the influence of alcohol. He has not touched liquor since. Like the other victims, Armstrong feels no true remorse, his only concern being the effect the death may have had on his career. Four little Soldier boys going out to sea / A red herring swallowed one and then there were three. He was pushed into the sea to his death, in the morning hours of Day 4. His body goes missing for a while, leading the others to think he is the killer, but his corpse washes up at the end of the novel, leading to the climax.
8 William Henry Blore
A retired police inspector and now a private investigator. Able-bodied, stollid and brave, but described as lacking in abstract thinking and imagination. Received a letter and a list of all attendees by Ulick Norman Owen. Blore was to pose as a guest and keep his eyes open in case a pass was made at Mrs Owen's jewels. Blore duly assumes the alias Davis' and invents a colonial backstory. Accused of having testified in court against an innocent man, James Landor, sentenced to lifetime imprisonment for a bank robbery/murder as a scapegoat after Blore had been compromised by a dangerous criminal gang. The man later died in prison. He first denies his guilt but later privately admits that it was true only to Lombard. Three little Soldier boys walking in the zoo / A big bear hugged one and then there were two. Died near lunchtime on Day 4, having his skull crushed in with a bear-shaped marble clock from Vera Claythorne's room when he returned to the house unattended.
9 Philip Lombard
A gun for hire and soldier of fortune. Often described as panther- or wolf-like, with a soft feline step, snarling smile and powerful physique. Reputed to be a good man in a tight spot, he is approached personally by Mr Isaac Morris and offered 100 guineas. Literally down to his last square meal, he accepts Morris's vague offer and comes to the island with a loaded revolver to look out for trouble. He is accused of causing the deaths of 21 men from a native East African tribe. It is said that he stole food from the tribe, thus causing their starvation and subsequent death. Similiar to Martson, he admits that the accusation against him is true, but shows no remorse, saying he acted in self-preservation. Two Little Soldier boys sitting in the sun / One got frizzled up and then there was one. After finding Armstrong's body later on Day 4, Lombard was not killed by Owen, but rather shot in the heart by Vera, who at the time believed him to be the murderer.
10 Vera Elizabeth Claythorne
A former governess. Following the inquest, she becomes a games mistress at a third-rate school but consideres herself lucky to get a job at all. Described as neat and quite pretty. Presented as a calm, rational and cool woman, Vera lost control only once in the novel; she became hysterical and recovered after being slapped. Afterwards, she was angry with herself for losing control. She was engaged by letter from Una Nancy Owen, via an agency, as a stand-in for her secretary who had fallen ill. As a governess, she let her young charge, Cyril Hamilton, swim out to sea and drown so that his uncle could inherit his money and marry her. However, the plan backfired, as Hugo abandoned her when he suspected what she had done. Vera seems to be tormented by guilt but in fact, it is only grief for being found out and losing the man she loved. She is made to suffer the most, being the last survivor – near the end, she is in a trance-like state and keeps seeing powerful hallucinations of Hugo and Cyril. One little Soldier boy left all alone / He went and hanged himself and then there were none. She meets her demise later on Day 4, when she walks back to her room after shooting Lombard. There she finds a readied noose, complete with a chair beneath it, suspended from her ceiling. Guilt-ridden and delusional, believing her love is upstairs waiting for her to pass judgment, Vera climbs the chair, adjusts the noose around her neck, and kicks the chair away, fulfilling the rhyme's final verse.

Minor characters[]

Isaac Morris, the 11th Soldier Boy. A Jewish man who is hired by Mr Owen, buys the house on Soldier Island for him, arranges the gramophone record and hires Philip Lombard to come to the island. As mentioned in the Manuscript, Morris dies when he takes what is thought to be a pill to help him with his "gastrial juices" given to him by Mr Owen. His major crime was to have supplied a young woman with the illegal drugs that caused her death.

Past victims of the Ten Soldier Boys[]

  • John Combes and Lucy Combes, two children killed in a car accident by Tony Marston.
  • Miss Jennifer Brady, killed by Mr and Mrs Rogers through withholding medication.
  • Arthur Richmond, sent to certain death by General Macarthur.
  • Beatrice Taylor, a pregnant maid driven to suicide by Emily Brent's harshness.
  • Edward Seton, an alleged killer sentenced to death thanks to Judge Wargrave's undue influence over the jury.
  • Louisa Mary Clees, a patient killed by Dr Armstrong who was operating under the influence of alcohol.
  • James Stephen Landor, a delicate man who was used as a scapegoat, imprisoned and later died, courtesy of Inspector Blore's perjury.
  • 21 members of an East African tribe (unnamed), left to die in the wilderness by the self-preserving Philip Lombard and his other white colleagues.
  • Cyril Ogilvie Hamilton, a child in Vera Claythorne's care, who drowned after she told him he was strong enough to swim out to sea.

Investigating officers[]

  • Sir Thomas Legge, Assistant Commissioner at Scotland Yard, who puzzles over the case in the Epilogue.
  • Inspector Maine, who sums up the case in the Epilogue.

People at Sticklehaven[]

  • Fred Narracott, the boatman who delivered the guests to the island. Normally, he is in charge of bringing letters and fresh groceries every morning to the island, but on orders of U. N. Owen (and also due to the storm), he does not do so for the Ten Soldier Boys. He is, however, mentioned again in the Epilogue as the person who discovered the bodies, having grown alarmed by the distress signals, deciding to disobey Owen and land on Soldier Island as soon as possible (on the afternoon of Day 5).
  • Narracott's brother (never mentioned by name), who acts as a stand-in and takes on catering/delivery duties for Soldier Island if Fred Narracott falls ill.
  • Jim, a taxi driver.
  • Master of the fishing trawler Emma Jane, who found the Manuscript written by Mr Owen and sent it to Scotland Yard. Possibly not directly from Sticklehaven, as the 'message in the bottle' could have washed up quite a long distance from the island.

Mentioned family members and acquaintances[]

Several friends and acquaintances of the respective Soldier Boys are mentioned in the letters sent out by Mr Owen, to give credibility to his invitations. These include:

Other people are mentioned in the Soldier Boys' inner monologues:

  • Leslie, General Macarthur's wife.
  • Tom Brent, Emily Brent's uncle who served in the Regiment.
  • Elsie MacPherson, Emily Brent's friend or family member who married General Macarthur's cousin.
  • Hugo Hamilton, Vera Claythorne's lover.
  • Mrs Hamilton, mother of the drowned Cyril.
  • Maurice Hamilton, Cyril's deceased father.
  • Matthews, KC, Council for the Defence in the case of Edward Seton.
  • Llewellyn, KC, Council for the Prosecution in the case of Edward Seton.
  • Pam, a rich patient of Dr Armstrong whose nerves he succesfully treated.

Lastly, several characters are mentioned in passing by Sir Legge and Inspector Maine when discussing the case in the Epilogue:

  • Harris, the officer in charge of investigating Blore's connections to the Purcell gang.
  • Bennito, Isaac Morris's accomplice in a successful share-pushing fraud.

Former or alleged owners of Soldier Island[]

  • Elmer Robson (former owner), a young and eccentric millionaire famed for his parties
  • Miss Gabrielle Turl (alleged owner) a Hollywood film star.
  • Lord L. (alleged owner), a young lord who may have finally found love and taken refuge on the island

Biblical figures[]

  • David and Uriah – mentioned in Macarthur's inner monologue. Being otherwise a good Catholic who attends Sunday mass regularly, this is the one sermon that the General always avoided. David sending Uriah to the front line so that he could marry Bathsheba is reminiscent of Macarthur's killing of his wife's lover, Arthur Richmond.
  • Cain – mentioned in the Manuscript, in relation to the 'Mark of Cain' on Judge Wargrave's forehead.

Publication history[]

The novel was originally published in Britain under the title Ten Little Ni**ers in 1939. All references to "Indian" in the story were originally "Ni**er": thus the island was called "Ni**er Island"  rather than "Indian Island" and the rhyme found by each murder victim was also called Ten Little Ni**ers rather than Ten Little Indians. Modern printings use the rhyme Ten Little Soldiers and "Soldier Island" for reasons of political and ethnic sensitivity. 

The UK serialisation was in twenty-three parts in the Daily Express from Tuesday, June 6 to Saturday, July 1, 1939. All of the installments carried an illustration by "Prescott" with the first installment having an illustration of Burgh Island in Devon which inspired the setting of the story. This version did not contain any chapter divisions.

For the United States market, the novel was first serialized in the Saturday Evening Post in seven parts from 20 May (Volume 211, Number 47) to 1 July 1939 (Volume 212, Number 1) with illustrations by Henry Raleigh and then published separately in book form in January 1940. Both publications used the less inflammatory title And Then There Were None. The 1945 motion picture also used this title. In 1946, the play was published under the new title Ten Little Indians (the same title under which it had been performed on Broadway), and in 1964 an American paperback edition also used this title.

British editions continued to use the work's original title until the 1980s and the first British edition to use the alternative title And Then There Were None appeared in 1985 with a reprint of the 1963 Fontana Paperback. Today And Then There Were None is the title most commonly used. However, the original title survives in many foreign-language versions of the novel: for example, the Greek title is Δέκα Μικροί Νέγροι, the Bulgarian title is Десет малки негърчета, the Spanish title is Diez negritos, the French title is Dix petits nègres and the Hungarian title is Tíz kicsi néger, while the Italian title, Dieci piccoli indiani, mirrors the "Indians" title. A Dutch translation of 1981 used the work's original English title Ten Little Ni**ers The 19/ Russian film adaptation has the title Десять негритят (Desyat Negrityat). The computer adventure game based on the novel uses "Ten Little Sailor Boys".

  • Christie, Agatha (November 1939). Ten Little Ni**ers. London: Collins Crime Club. Hardback, 256 pp. (First edition)
  • Christie, Agatha (January 1940). And Then There Were None. New York: Dodd, Mead. Hardback, 264 pp. (First US edition)
  • 1944, Paperback, 173 pp (Pocket number 261)
  • 1947, Paperback, 190 pp (Pan number 4)
  • 1947: Albatross Crime Club (Leipzig etc), pbk, 1947
  • 1958, Paperback, 201 pp (Penguin number 1256)
  • Christie, Agatha (1963). And Then There Were None. London: Fontana. Paperback, 190 pp. (The 1985 reprint was the first UK publication of novel under the title And Then There Were None).
  • Christie, Agatha (1964). Ten Little Indians. New York: Pocket Books. (first publication of novel as Ten Little Indians)
  • 1964, Washington Square Press (paperback – teacher's edition)
  • Christie, Agatha (1977). Ten Little Ni**ers (Greenway edition ed.). London: Collins Crime Club. Collected works, Hardback, 252pp (Except for reprints of the 1963 Fontana paperback, this was one of the last English-language publications of the novel under the title "Ten Little Ni**ers")
  • Christie, Agatha (1980). The Mysterious Affair at Styles; Ten Little Ni**ers; Dumb Witness. Sydney: Lansdowne Press. Late use of the original title in an Australian edition.
  • Christie, Agatha; N J Robat (trans.) (1981). Ten Little Ni**ers (in Dutch) (Third edition ed.). Culemborg: Educaboek. (Late printing of Dutch translation preserving original English title)
  • Christie, Agatha (1986). Ten Little Indians. New York: Pocket Books. (Last publication of novel under the title "Ten Little Indians")
  • 1957: Christie Classics (omnibus), Dodd Mead, 1957.
  • 1970: Agatha Christie Crime Collection (omnibus), Paul Hamlyn, 1970.
  • 1977: Masterpieces of Murder (omnibus), Dodd Mead, 1977.
  • 1986: Agatha Christie: Five Complete Novels of Murder and Detection (omnibus), Avenel, 1986.
  • 2006: Agatha Christie 1930s Omnibus, HarperCollins, 2006.
  • 2018: And Then There Were None and Other Classic Mysteries (omnibus), HarperCollins, 2018.

Literary significance and reception[]

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And Then There Were None is one of Agatha Christie's best-known mysteries. Writing for The Times Literary Supplement of 11 November 1939, Maurice Percy Ashley stated, "If her latest story has scarcely any detection in it there is no scarcity of murders." He continued, "There is a certain feeling of monotony inescapable in the regularity of the deaths which is better suited to a serialized newspaper story than a full-length novel. Yet there is an ingenious problem to solve in naming the murderer. It will be an extremely astute reader who guesses correctly." Many other reviews were as complimentary; in The New York Times Book Review of 25 February 1940, Isaac Anderson detailed the set-up of the plot up to the point where 'the voice' accuses the ten people of their past misdemeanors and then said, "When you read what happens after that you will not believe it, but you will keep on reading, and as one incredible event is followed by another even more incredible you will still keep on reading. The whole thing is utterly impossible and utterly fascinating. It is the most baffling mystery that Agatha Christie has ever written, and if any other writer has ever surpassed it for sheer puzzlement the name escapes our memory. We are referring, of course, to mysteries that have logical explanations, as this one has. It is a tall story, to be sure, but it could have happened."

Such was the quality of Christie's work on this book that many compared it to her 1926 novel The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. For instance, an unnamed reviewer in the Toronto Daily Star of 16 March 1940 said, "Others have written better mysteries than Agatha Christie, but no one can touch her for ingenious plot and surprise ending. With And Then There Were None... she is at her most ingenious and most surprising... is, indeed, considerably above the standard of her last few works and close to the Roger Ackroyd level."

Other critics laud the use of twists, turns, and surprise endings. Maurice Richardson wrote a rhapsodic review in The Observer's issue of 5 November 1939 which began, "No wonder Agatha Christie's latest has sent her publishers into a vatic trance. We will refrain, however, from any invidious comparisons with Roger Ackroyd and be content with saying that Ten Little Ni**ers is one of the very best, most genuinely bewildering Christies yet written. We will also have to refrain from reviewing it thoroughly, as it is so full of shocks that even the mildest revelation would spoil some surprise from somebody, and I am sure that you would rather have your entertainment kept fresh than criticism pure." After stating the set-up of the plot, Richardson concluded, "Story telling and characterisation are right at the top of Mrs. Christie's baleful form. Her plot may be highly artificial, but it is neat, brilliantly cunning, soundly constructed, and free from any of those red-herring false trails which sometimes disfigure her work."

Robert Barnard, a recent critic, concurred with the reviews, describing the book as "Suspenseful and menacing detective-story-cum-thriller. The closed setting with the succession of deaths is here taken to its logical conclusion, and the dangers of ludicrousness and sheer reader-disbelief are skillfully avoided. Probably the best-known Christie, and justifiably among the most popular."

Other recent commentators, however, have been more critical of the work, finding that Christie's original title and the setting on "Ni**er Island" are integral to the work. These aspects of the novel, argues Alison Light, "could be relied upon automatically to conjure up a thrilling 'otherness', a place where revelations about the 'dark side' of the English would be appropriate." Unlike novels such as Heart of Darkness, however, "Christie's location is both more domesticated and privatised, taking for granted the construction of racial fears woven into psychic life as early as the nursery. If her story suggests how easy it is to play upon such fears, it is also a reminder of how intimately tied they are to sources of pleasure and enjoyment."

Film, TV and theatrical adaptations[]

And Then There Were None has had more adaptations than any other single work of Agatha Christie, in numerous formats and languages. May use Christie's alternative ending from her 1943 stage play, and several adapt the setting, changing it to locations other than an island.

Stage[]

Film[]

Television[]

The American television miniseries Harper's Island bore a strong resemblance to Christie's novel.

Computer Games[]

A computer game was released by AWE Games/The Adventure Company in 2005.

Graphic Novel adaptations[]

And Then There Were None was released by HarperCollins as a graphic novel adaptation on 30 April 2009, adapted by François Rivière and illustrated by Frank Leclercq.

Other variations, parodies, works inspired by[]

  • The Night of the Tottering Tontine. {Wild Wild west series}: Agents West and Gordon have to stop the murder of members of a Tontine
  • The Night of the Tycoons", {The Wild Wild West}: Agent West has to stop the murder of a corporations board of directors
  • And Then There Was Shawn, the seventeenth episode of the fifth season of Boy Meets World, is a parody of And Then There Were None
  • Harper's Island - a 13 episode mini-series with the same premise
  • Identity - a 2003 horror film inspired by the story
  • Umineko no Naku Koro Ni and its sequel Umineko Chiru, two Japanese visual novels largely borrowing the setting for deconstructing of the mystery genre
  • Devil - a 2010 film written by M. Night Shyamalan adapts this story's basic structure and final plot twist to the confines of an elevator
  • Game - a 2011 Bollywood thriller inspired by the story
  • And Then There Were Fewer, the first episode of the ninth season of Family Guy, is based on the same premise of guests being invited to a remote manor (though they are trapped by a storm) then slowly being murdered.

The K.B.S. Productions Inc. film, A Study in Scarlet (1933), predates the publication of Ten Little Indians and follows a strikingly similar plot. Though it is a Sherlock Holmes movie, the movie bears no resemblance to Arthur Conan Doyle's original story of the same name. In this case, the rhyme refers to "Ten Little fat Boys". The author of the movie's screenplay, Robert Florey, "doubted that [Christie] had seen A Study in Scarlet but he regarded it as a compliment if it had helped inspire her". In addition, several parodies have been made. One, the 1976 Broadway musical Something's Afoot, stars Tessie O'Shea as a female sleuth resembling Christie's fictional Miss Marple. Something's Afoot takes place in a remote English estate, where six guests have been invited for the weekend. The guests, as well as three servants and a young man who claims to have wandered innocently onto the estate, are then murdered one by one, several in full view of the audience, with the murderer's surprise identity revealed at the end. For an encore, the murdered cast members perform a song, "I Owe It All to Agatha Christie". An episode of Remington Steele called "Steele Trap" follows the plot very closely, with whimsical murders on a remote island. The Rene Clair film adaptation from 1945 is referenced several times. An episode of "Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends", entitled "7 Little Superheroes", focuses on a group of superheroes on a mysterious island being captured one by one in accordance with a rhyme.

The Japanese anime series Urusei Yatsura based episode 75 (also titled "And Then There Were None") on the book. In the episode, 10 of the 11 involved characters seem to die, leaving the main character alone to discover the murderer. He discovers the event to be an elaborate farce constructed by his supposedly murdered companions, whose purpose was to scare him. The song Cock Robin is used instead of "Ten Little Soldiers".

In addition, the Japanese visual novel Umineko no Naku Koro ni was heavily influenced by the book. Similarities can be seen in such features as the characters being trapped on an island during a storm as they are murdered one-by-one in accordance with a riddle, the seeming "unsolvable" nature of the crimes and the many situations described as "closed room" scenarios, akin to the orchestration by Wargrave of his own murder as revealed in the book's postscript. The first novel even ends with a message bottle sent by one of the characters washing ashore and being discovered by a fisherman several years after the incident. In 2005, The Adventure Company released the video game Agatha Christie: And Then There Were None, the first in a series of PC games based on Christie novels. In February 2008 it was ported to the Wii console.

The Japanese manga series "Detective Conan" (albeit first and foremost inspired by Doyle's Sherlock Holmes novels) also contains two cases in which a group of people is lured out to a secluded mansion and killed off one by one. In both stories, the killer has seemingly killed himself and later reappears. However, the main character of the series manages to solve both cases and leaves the scene unharmed.


International titles[]

  • Italian: Dieci Piccoli Indiani (Ten Little Indians)
  • French: Dix Petits Nègres (Ten Little Ni**ers)
  • German: Und dann gabs keines mehr (And Then There Were None)
  • Greek: Δέκα Μικροί Νέγροι (Ten Little Ni**ers)
  • Czech: Deset malých černoušků (Ten Little Ni**ers)
  • Spanish: Diez negritos (Ten Ni**ers)
  • Swedish: Tio små negerpojkar (Ten Little Ni**er boys), Och så var det bara en (And Then There Were Just One)
  • Russian: Десять негритят (Ten Little Ni**ers)
  • Hungarian: A láthatatlan hóhér, Tíz kicsi néger, Tíz kicsi indián, Tíz kicsi katona (The Invisible Executioner, Ten Little Ni**ers, Ten Little Indian, Ten Little Soldiers)
  • Portuguese: O Caso Dos Dez Negrinhos, E Não Sobrou Nenhum (The Case of the ten little black boys, And then there were none)

Worldwide covers[]

External links[]

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