Agatha Christie Wiki

Francesca Annis as Tuppence in Agatha Christie's Partners in Crime. Photo by Lord Snowdon

Prudence "Tuppence" Beresford (née Cowley) is a fictional detective in the work of Agatha Christie. She is married to Tommy Beresford, and is the fifth daughter of Archdeacon Cowley. The first time Tommy and Tuppence appeared in a Christie novel was in The Secret Adversary (1922). They started out their life as accidental blackmailers (all in search of adventure and money), but the detecting life soon proved more profitable and much more exciting. Her full name is Prudence Beresford (née Cowley) but "Prudence" is not used much and she is almost always addressed as "Tuppence". In the French adaptations by Pascal Thomas where the lead characters are French and the action is set in France, since "Tuppence" would not mean anything in French, the character's name reverts to "Prudence Beresford".

They appear together in four full-length novels and one collection of short stories. Their other appearances were in Partners in Crime, a 1929 collection of short stories (each reminiscent of another writer's work); N or M?, a 1941 espionage novel; Postern of Fate in 1973, the last novel Christie ever wrote (although not the last to be published).

Tuppence appears as a charismatic, impulsive and intuitive person, while Tommy is less imaginative, and less likely to be diverted from the truth (as their first adversary sums him up "he is not clever, but it is hard to blind his eyes to the facts"). They therefore make a good team. It is in this first book The Secret Adversary that they meet up after the war, and come to realise that, although they have been friends for most of their lives, they have now fallen in love with each other.

Unlike many other recurring detective characters, including the better known Christie detectives, Tommy and Tuppence aged in time with the real world, being in their early twenties in The Secret Adversary and in their seventies in Postern of Fate. In their early appearances, they are portrayed as typical upper middle class "bright young things" of the 1920s, and the stories and settings have a more pronounced period-specific flavour than the stories featuring the better known Christie characters. As they age, they're revealed to have raised three children - twins Deborah and Derek and an adopted daughter, Betty. Throughout the series they employ a man named Albert, who first appears as a lift boy who helps them in The Secret Adversary, and in Partners in Crime becomes their hapless assistant at a private detective agency; by Postern of Fate he's their butler and has been married and widowed. In Postern of Fate they also have a small dog named Hannibal.