Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, DBE (née Miller; 15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976) was an English crime novelist, short story writer, and playwright. She also wrote six romances under the name Mary Westmacott, but she is best known for the 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections that she wrote under her own name, most of which revolve around the investigative work of such characters as Hercule Poirot, Jane Marple, Parker Pyne, Harley Quin/Mr Satterthwaite, and Tommy and Tuppence Beresford. She also wrote the world's longest-running play, The Mousetrap. In 1971, she was made a Dame by Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace for her contribution to literature. Christie was born into a wealthy upper-middle-class family in Torquay, Devon. She served in a hospital during the First World War before marrying and starting a family in London. She was initially unsuccessful at getting her work published, but in 1920 The Bodley Head press published her novel The Mysterious Affair at Styles, featuring the character of Hercule Poirot. This launched her literary career.