Agatha Christie Wiki
Advertisement

In the novel Dumb Witness, Ellen is a long time member of Emily Arundell's household staff. She has been with the Arundells for twenty two years. She is described as a "pleasant-faced woman of between fifty and sixty, clearly the old-fashioned type of servant seldom seen nowadays".

On visiting Little Green House, Hastings observes that everything is "spotlessly clean and well kept", which tells him that Ellen is a "thoroughly conscientious woman".

After the death of Emily Arundell, Wilhelmina Lawson moved out of the Little Green House, leaving Ellen with some other servants to look after the place as well as the pet dog Bob. Miss Lawson had given Ellen some of Emily's things, one of which was a blotter. In it, Ellen found a letter which Emily had written many months earlier. After consulting with Annie the cook, she posted it to the addressee, who happened to be Poirot. This arrival of the letter many months after it was written drew Poirot into investigating the case. Ellen also showed Poirot into the house when he came to Market Basing and gave him detailed background information about the events surrounding the death of Emily as well as the personalities involved.

In the unpublished short story The Incident of the Dog's Ball which was later expanded into "Dumb Witness", Ellen also exists, playing essentially the same role at the house called "The Laburnums". The only minor differenceis that here she did not consult the (unnamed) cook but decided on her own to post the letter.

Portrayals[]

In the film adaptation of Dumb Witness in Series 6 of ITV's Agatha Christie's Poirot, Ellen is replaced by another character, "Sarah", also a maid. Her role is however different. She does not serve as a resource person to Poirot. Poirot is already present before the death of Emily Arundell and can access the relevant facts firsthand. Sarah serves other roles. She stays on at the Littlegreen House with Wilhelmina Lawson after Emily dies and is a witness to an attempted break in and robbery. Later she is the first person to discover the body of Dr Grainger who has been gassed to death while staying in the house. Sarah is portrayed by Pat O'Toole.

In Témoin muet, the France Televisions and Escazal Films adaptation of the novel, the nearest parallel character is a maid named Daisy but she also has a different role compared with Ellen.

Advertisement