Agatha Christie Wiki

In the novel Dumb Witness, Arabella “Bella” Tanios is the niece of Emily Arundell, cousin to Charles and Theresa. She is the plain looking daughter of Arabella Arundell and Professor Biggs, who taught chemistry at Cambridge University.

She lives in Smyrna with her husband, Jacob Tanios, but during their current visit to England they stay at Durham Hotel in Bloomsbury.

Bella and Jacob had two children, Edward and Mary Tanios. Bella was a devoted wife and mother.

Bella was described as being a "tall, thin woman with dark hair, rather prominent light "boiled gooseberry" eyes and a worried face". She was about five feet seven inches tall, and had dark hair.

Bella was "passionately fond of clothes without having any clothes sense", and she tried to copy Theresa's style at a cheaper price. She was often described as wearing a fashionable hat at an unfashionable angle, and her hair was "inclined to straggle in wisps" below the hat. She wondered why her hair did not look like Theresa's, when she attempted to style it in the same way.

When Bella and her husband arrived at Little Green House at the beginning of the novel, she was reluctant to ask Miss Arundell for money, sayng that it would be unwise. However, her husband told her that the money was for their children, and that she would do what he asked, as she usually did.

After Miss Arundell's death, Poirot called on Bella. Upon hearing that Miss Arundell had written to Poirot before her death, Bella assumed that the letter was about her husband, and told him that whatever was written was not true.

As Poirot was leaving, Bella started to tell him something, but changed her mind when her husband came in. She later called on Poirot, but found that he was not at home. According to George, she was in a state of great nervous excitement at the time.

Poirot later found Bella at Wilhelmina Lawson's home. Bella had left her husband, and had taken the children with her, and she had gone to Miss Lawson because she did not know who else to go to.

Bella told Poirot that her husband was saying that she was mentally ill, and that he wanted to send her to an institution so that she could not tell anyone. She told Poirot that she knew that her husband had killed Miss Arundell, but she did not know how. However, she said that she could not tell him anything more, as it would not be right.

Poirot told Bella that he knew the truth, and had written up the facts of the case. He asked her to read them, and to telephone him if they were to her satisfaction. He also told her to take the children and go to the Coniston Hotel near Euston.

Bella died in her sleep after taking an overdose of a sleeping draught. Her body was found by a chambermaid at the Coniston Hotel.

It was revealed that Bella wanted money to educate her children. Poirot surmised that education must have meant a lot to her, as she was a professor's daughter. She also disliked her husband, and wanted to detach herself and the children from him.

Poirot explained that Bella would have had a certain knowledge of chemistry, having assisted her father in the laboratory. She also knew the nature of Miss Arundell's health problems, and that phosphorus would be an ideal poison to use. When she got to Little Green House, she got the idea of putting a thread across the top of the stairs.

When her first attempt on Miss Arundell's life failed, Bella put the poison into one of the capsules of Miss Arundell's medicine, knowing that she would take it eventually.

Poirot further explained that the brooch with the initials T.A. had been seen in a mirror, and so the initials were really A.T., Arabella Tanios.

After Bella left her husband, and told Poirot that he had killed Miss Arundell, Poirot took steps to isolate her and her husband. He had told Bella that this was for her protection, but he was actually trying to protect Dr Tanios, fearing that he would be Bella's next victim.


The book is inconsistent in its references to Bella Tanios' maiden name. There is an early reference to her as Bella Winter (see Chapter 1, page 8 "For Bella Winter, Emily Arundell's niece, had married a Greek"). Later she is referred to as Bella Biggs, daughter of Professor Biggs (see Chapter 10, page 74 "Emily was alone in the world then, and they and Bella Biggs were the only kith and kin she had.")