Emily Inglethorp was an elderly woman and the owner of the Styles Court estate.
She was described as a "selfish woman in her own way. She was very kind and generous, prone to help those in need, like Cynthia Murdoch and the belgian ex-detective Hercule Poirot, but she always expected gratitude and respect in return.
She re-married to Alfred Inglethorp, who was about twenty years younger than her, some months after he came to Styles Court, introducing himself as a far cousin of Evelyn Howard.
The whole family of Mrs Inglethorp depended on her. This is very similar to the relationship between Mrs Boynton and her family in Appointment with Death, and patriarch Aristide with the Leonides family in Crooked House. In Curtain, Judith Hastings classified Emily as the ‘type of selfish person’ that didn’t let the younger members of their family ‘have a life’.
Emily Inglethorp's will
Her fortune was to be given to her husband Alfred, where as the Styles Court estate and the London house was inherited by John.
Characters with a connection to Emily
Alfred Inglethorp - Emily's much younger second husband, considered by many to be a fortune hunter
Evelyn Howard - Emily's companion, who had negative views about her marrying Alfred
Mr Cavendish - Emily's first husband, father of John and Lawrence. Passed away before the events of the novel
Mary Cavendish - Emily's daughter-in-law
Cynthia Murdoch - Daughter of a friend of Emily Inglethorp. Lives at Styles court since her mother died
Dorcas - Emily's long serving maid
Role in the novel (contains spoilers)
Before being poisoned, Emily was heard arguing with a man in her study room. She later ordered her maid to turn on the fire. This was because she was arguing with her son John. She wanted to eliminate John from her will, but she later discovered that Alfred was having an affair with Evelyn Howard and burned the new version of it. Emily was poisoned with strychnine, and accused her husband of having killed her. The murderer had wore a black beard similar to Alfred’s to deceive the victim.
The prime suspect for Emily's murder was Alfred. He gained the most from Emily's death, and he was seen buying strychnine. However, Alfred had a true alibi that was confirmed.
The murderer actually turned out to be Emily's companion, Evelyn Howard, who, despite seemingly hating Alfred, turned out to be in league with him. The poison used wasn't only strychnine, but Evelyn had suggested adding an accelerating agent to Emily's medicine (which consisted of strychnine).