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Dust-jacket of the first and only UK edition

The Road of Dreams is a book of poetry by crime writer Agatha Christie. It was published at her own expense by Geoffrey Bles in January 1925 priced at five shillings (5/-). Only one edition of the 112-page volume was ever published.

Christie wrote poetry for most of her life and the first traceable published works by her are three poems in 1919 - World Hymn in The Poetry Review issue for March/April, Dark Sheila in Poetry Today issue for May/June and A Passing in the same journal for November/December. All three poems are reprinted in The Road of Dreams (with the first of these three under the slightly amended title of World Hymn, 1914).

The book is divided into four sections:

  • A Masque from Italy
  • Ballads
  • Dreams and Fantasies
  • Other Poems

The final section includes a poem entitled In a Dispensary which mentions many of the poisons that Christie would use in her long fictional career.

Literary response

The Times Literary Supplement in its issue of February 26, 1925 praised A Masque from Italy and other selected poems whilst stating that "her talent, however, is too delicate to turn a ballad convincingly" and World Hymn, 1914 was a "subject too large for her hand to grasp". It did conclude however by stating that in poems such as Beatrice Passes (from Dreams and Fantasies) her "real poetic gift is best displayed".

The Scotsman of March 23, 1925 said, "Miss Agatha Christie, in her book of poems, The Road of Dreams, reveals a pleasing lyrical sense. The movement of her verse is light and graceful, and its substance, though not of the 'thought compact,' is not empty. Such lines, however – and there are a few-as:-

"The South Wind comes a-whispering, a-whispering from the sea,"

are banal. Flow in verse is not everything. A stronger note is struck in some of the ballads, for instance, The Ballad of the Flint. Here Miss Christie has a story to tell, and along 'the road of reality' she swings quite vigorously. In the first collection of songs grouped together as A Masque from Italy – the players are the old and over-new Harlequin and company – Miss Christie is perhaps happiest. The poem is quite a charming bubble.

Forgotten creations

Christie does not mention the book in her autobiography. Her official biography recounts that Eden Phillpotts, a family friend, wrote to her and told her she "had great lyric gifts". He also warned her that it would not sell well and was proven right when copies remained unbound and unsold well into the 1960s.

Reprints

The contents of this book were reprinted in the 1973 collection Poems as "Volume 1" although there are several differences between the two editions. Notably, "In a Dispensary" was not present. See article for Poems for details.

A special 50th Anniversary edition of Star Over Bethlehem and other stories was published by HarperCollins in 2009 and this is a facsimile edition that includes the text of Star Over Bethlehem as well as the texts of Road of Dreams and Poems. This includes "In a Dispensary".

Adaptations

Ten of the poems were dramatized and read in a short film A Masque from Italy by Matt Hulse and Ben Nealon and first premiered on 17 Dec 2020 at the Palace theatre at Paignton, Devon.

Publication history

  • 1925: The Road of Dreams, Geoffrey Bles, hbk, January 1925, 112 pp, OCLC 12657447
  • 1973: Poems, William Collins and Sons (London), October 1973, hbk, 124 pp ISBN 0-00-211681-2, as vol. 1
  • 1973: Poems, Dodd, Mead and Company (New York), hbk, 124 pp ISBN 0-396-06859-6, as vol 1
  • 1996: Poems, Bantam Books, hbk, 182 pp, ISBN 0-553-35103-6, as vol. 1
  • 2009: Star of Bethlehem and other stories, HarperCollins (London), 2009, hbk, 208 pp ISBN 9780007284214
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