Agatha Christie Wiki

In the novel Towards Zero, Miss Amphrey, nicknamed “Amp” by her students, is the headmistress at Meadway, an exclusive school for girls. Miss Amphrey was widely regarded as a successful principal who employed modern techniques. She combined discipline with modern ideas of self-determination and had a keen interest in psychology. Even when she asked to see Superintendent Battle about a spate of thefts allegedly committed by his daughter Sylvia, she emphasised the importance of handling the psychology of the acts. One must be careful with assigning punishment and blame. Rather, one must seek to understand the underlying causes of the behavior.

Miss Amphrey told Battle that she had arrived at the culprit using psychological techniques. She had spoken about the thefts to the students and observed that by the expression on Sylvia's Faa that she must be the one. She then played a word association game with Sylvia which ultimately induced her to confess. This confession not withstanding, Battle felt that Miss Amphrey's methods were grossly unsound. She's a fool, he told Sylvia, although even Sylvia idolized her. For all her psychology, Amprey ignored the most basic concept of looking at the evidence. Battle decided to take Sylvia out of the school but advised Amphrey to call the police who would soon find the culprit.

Nonetheless, the experience with Amphrey gave Battle an insight into how psychological pressure could be applied on an otherwise innocent person to force a confession.

Miss Amprey is described as a person "with an eager face suggestive of a conscientious greyhound, and clear blue eyes looking serious through thick lenses."