Star Over Bethlehem is an illustrated book of poetry and short stories on a religious theme by crime writer Agatha Christie. It was published under the name "Agatha Christie Mallowan" (whose only other book to be published under this by-line was the 1946 short autobiography Come, Tell Me How You Live). It was published in the UK by Collins on 1 November 1965 in an edition priced at thirteen shillings and sixpence (13/6) and in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in an edition retailing at $4.95.
The volume contains five poems and six short stories, all on the theme of Christianity. Some of the poems can be taken as comments or epilogues on the short stories (e.g. Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh refers to the gifts in the stable which The Naughty Donkey in the preceding story attempts to eat). Although relatively unknown, this work, when referred to at all, is often stated as being for children; however the stories it contains are firmly aimed at an adult audience and with adult themes, especially for 1965. For instance, in the story The Water Bus, Mrs Hargreaves’s cleaner tries to offload her woes to her employer, the main one of which is that her daughter is dying in hospital after an illegal abortion went wrong.
Little is known of the reasons for the writing of the contents of this book, however Christie is known to have retained strong religious beliefs throughout her life. She is also said to have been pleased with Collins' plans for the publication and its illustrations by Elsie Wrigley and pleased at the reception of the book and, for once, requests for it to be autographed.
Poems[edit | edit source]
- A Greeting
- A Wreath for Christmas
- Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh
- Jenny by the Sky
- The Saints of God
Short stories[edit | edit source]
- Star Over Bethlehem
- The Naughty Donkey
- The Water Bus
- In the Cool of the Evening
- Promotion in the Highest
- The Island
Publication history[edit | edit source]
- 1965, Collins Crime Club (London), 1 November 1965, Hardback, 80 pp
- 1965, Dodd Mead and Company (New York), 1965, Hardback, 80 pp
- 1991, Berkley Books, 1991, Paperback ISBN 0-425-13229-3
- 1992, Fount Books, October 1992, Paperback ISBN 0-00-627664-4
- 1996, Bantam Books, 1996, Paperback, ISBN 0-553-35104-4
The title story was first published in the monthly Woman's Journal issue for December 1946