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The Wife of the Kenite is a short story by Agatha Christie. It was first published in the September 1922 issue of the magazine The Home: An Australian Quarterly in Sydney, Australia. The story then remained relatively unknown until it was reprinted in the collection Bodies from the Library: Lost Tales of Mystery and Suspense by Agatha Christie and other Masters of the Golden Age in 2018 and, subsequently, the collection The Last Séance: Tales of the Supernatural in 2019.

This story is one of Agatha Christie’s first published short.[1] The circumstances surrounding the writing and publication of the story are not fully known. We know that Christie wrote this on a commission from the Australia magazine. Christie was in Australia in May and June 1922 as part of her "Grand Tour". Moreover, the delegation had just left South Africa. That might have inspired Christie to set her story in the South African Veldt. She might have written the story in South Africa, on the ship to Australia or after arrival. Certainly it was already written by 9 May 1922 as she mentions it in a letter from Melbourne to her mother.[2] As The Home is a quarterly, if Christie had submitted her story during the time she was in Sydney, Australia (June 1922), this would fit September 1922 as the next issue the story could be published in.

The theme of the story is revenge. The story is similar to the story of Jael in the Book of Judges in the Bible. The title of the short story is also a reference to Jael, as Jael is married to Heber the Kenite.


After the First World War, an ex-German soldier who has taken to being a political agitator flees Johannesburg and the authorities who are pursuing him. He travels across the South African Veldt. At a lonely house he encounters a woman from his past.

Plot summary[]

Publication history[]


  1. The Wife of the Kenite
  2. Agatha Christie, The Grand Tour, ed. Mathew Prichard (London: HarperCollins, 2012), 1281, ebook edition.