Tommy & Tuppence Beresford

Created by Agatha Christie
(1890-1976)

“Two young adventurers for hire Willing to do anything, go anywhere. Pay must be good.”
— the ad that was never placed

First known illustration of Tommy and Tuppence. From the December 1923 issue of The Grand Magazine

Yep, that Agatha Christie.

Okay, it’s not exactly the mean streets, but arguably the first-ever husband-and-wife sleuthing duo was created by the Queen of Crime herself, a decade before anyone had ever heard of Nick and Nora.

TOMMY and TUPPENCE BERESFORD are a married couple who run a small detective agency in post-WWI Britain, and appeared in a string of novellas and novels, starting in 1922 with the publication of The Secret Adversary.

Pragmatic, methodical Tommy, recently returned from the Great War, and his old pal, brash and often impulsive Prudence “Tuppence” Cowley, hook up after the war, and decide — over tea, of course — to become “adventurers,” almost as a lark. They joke about placing an ad in the newspaper (it never made it) but those crazy kids soon develop some real detective chops. After inadvertently stumbling into an espionage case in their debut — which they resolve successfully, they decide to get married, and by the second novel N or M (1941, which followed a rash of short stories), they’re the proud proprietors of the London-based Blunt’s Brilliant Detectives Agency. They ended up appearing in four full length novels as well as a Partners in Crime (1929), a collection of their short stories. Several of the stories notably spoofed various popular detectives of the day.

Even more intriguing, though, was that as the series developed, Christie allowed them to age, going from the “bright young things” of the 1920s to downright mature sleuths in their seventies by the end of the run in The Postern of Fate in 1973, a miraculous run of over a half century.

Agatha Christie is, of course, the Queen of Crime, arguably the most widely published novelist of all time. She is the author of over eighty crime novels and short story collections, 19 plays, and six novels written under the name Mary Westmacott, but is best known for creating two of the world’s most popular sleuths, amateur sleuth Miss Marple and finnicky Belgian private investigator Hercule Poirot.

NOVELS

  • The Secret Adversary (1922)
  • N or M? (1941)
  • By the Pricking of My Thumbs (1968)
  • The Postern of Fate (1973)

SHORT STORIES

  • “The Clergyman’s Daughter” (December 1923, The Grand Magazine)
  • “The Red House” (December 1923, The Grand Magazine)
  • “Publicity” (September 24, 1924, The Sketch)
  • “The Affair of the Pink Pearl” (October 1, 1924, The Sketch; aka “Blunt’s Brilliant Detectives”)
  • “Finessing the King” (October 8, 1924,The Sketch)
  • “The Case of the Missing Lady” (October 15, 1924, The Sketch)
  • “The Adventure of the Sinister Stranger” (October 22, 1924, The Sketch)
  • “The Gentleman Dressed in Newspaper” (October 1924, The Sketch)
  • “The House of Lurking Death” (October 1924, The Grand Magazine)
  • “The Sunningdale Mystery” (October 29, 1924, The Sketch; aka “The Sunninghall Mystery”)
  • “The House of Lurking Death” (November 5, 1924, The Sketch)
  • “The Matter of the Ambassador’s Boots” (November 12, 1924, The Sketch; aka “The Ambassador’s Boots”.
  • “The Affair of the Forged Notes” (November 19, 1924, The Sketch; also as “The Crackler”)
  • “Blind Man’s Buff” (November 26, 1924, The Sketch)
  • “The Man in the Mist” (December 3, 1924, The Sketch)
  • “The Man Who Was No. 16” (December 10, 1924, The Sketch)
  • “The Unbreakable Alibi” (December 1928, Holly Leaves)
  • “A Fairy in the Flat” (1929, Partners in Crime)
  • “A Pot of Tea” (1929, Partners in Crime)

COLLECTIONS

TELEVISION

  • THE SECRET ADVERSARY | Buy the complete series on DVD
    (1982, BBC)
    Made-for-television movie
    Based on characters created by Agatha Christie
    Starring James Warwick as TOMMY BERESFORD
    and Francesca Annis as “TUPPENCE” BERESFORD
  • PARTNERS IN CRIME | Buy the complete series on DVD
    (aka “Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime”)
    (1983, BBC)
    10 episodes
    Based on characters created by Agatha Christie
    Starring James Warwick as TOMMY BERESFORD
    and Francesca Annis as “TUPPENCE” BERESFORD

    • “The Affair of the Pink Pearl”
    • “The House of Lurking Death”
    • “The Sunningdale Mystery”
    • “The Clergymanís Daughter”
    • “Finessing the King”
    • “The Ambassadorís Boots”
    • “The Man in the Mist”
    • “The Unbreakable Alibi”
    • “The Case of the Missing Lady”
    • “The Crackler”
  • PARTNERS IN CRIME
    (2015, BBC)
    6 60-minute episodes
    Premiere: September 3, 2015
    Based on characters created by Agatha Christie
    Directed by Edward Hall
    Produced by Endor Productions and Agatha Christie Productions Ltd.
    Starring David Walliams as TOMMY BERESFORD
    and Jessica Raine as “TUPPENCE” BERESFORD

    • “The Secret Adversary (Part One)” (September 3, 2015)
    • “The Secret Adversary (Part Two)” (September 3, 2015)
    • “The Secret Adversary (Part Three)” (September 10, 2015)
    • “N or M? (Part One)” (September 17, 2015)
    • “N or M? (Part Two)” (September 24, 2015)
    • “N or M? (Part Three)” (October 1, 2015)
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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