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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Noel Coward telegram to Agatha Christie found in old bureau....


Telegram sent by Noel Coward to congratulate Agatha Christie on The Mousetrap found in back of old bureau

  • Coward: 'Much as it pains me, I really must congratulate you on breaking the long run record...'
  • Christie's play had beaten his Blithe Spirit, the previous record holder
Last updated at 8:29 PM on 5th August 2011
    A telegram from playwright Noel Coward and a bill for 'ladies' delicates' sent to author Agatha Christie more than half a century ago have been discovered - in the back of an old bureau.
Stunned furniture restorer Clive Payne, 46, was fixing up the valuable 18th century piece, bought at auction in 2006, when the two crumpled letters fell out.
Coward's telegram, sent from Bermuda and dated September 1957, congratulated the author on her play The Mousetrap breaking the record for the longest running West End show.
Long lost: The telegraph sent by Noel Coward to Agatha Christie more than half a century ago
Long lost: The telegraph sent by Noel Coward to Agatha Christie more than half a century ago
He signs off: 'All my good wishes, Noel Coward.' The valuable typed telegram was discovered alongside an old 1952 receipt for Agatha Christie's underwear - for £562 in today's money - inside the antique bureau.
Shocked Mr Payne told today how he unravelled the mystery.
He said: 'I opened the letter and I could not believe it when it was addressed to Agatha Christie.
'I was doubly amazed when I saw it was from Noel Coward. Then I opened the receipt as well - it is a bit strange knowing the intimate details of someone so well-known.
'As a restorer you probably only get this once in a career. It's fantastic.' 
Treasure trove: Agatha Christie's bureau where the telegram and receipt were found
Treasure trove: Agatha Christie's bureau where the telegram and receipt were found
The shimmering pine bureau, plastered in a thick walnut veneer, is believed to date from around 1710 and contains three secret drawers.
Author Christie bought the furniture piece in the 1950s and may have used it to pen many of her famous crime novels - including legendary detectives Miss Marple and Poirot.
The bureau was snapped up by an anonymous collector at auction in 2006, when part of the crime novelist's estate went up for sale from her home on the River Dart, Devon.
The secret collector - who still does not want to be identified - took the dilapidated bureau to be touched up by expert restorer Mr Payne, from Lechlade, Glos.
Prolific: Dame Agatha Christie (pictured here in March 1971) wrote more than 80 detective novels
Prolific: Dame Agatha Christie (pictured here in March 1971) wrote more than 80 detective novels
Mr Payne said: 'The bureau had been in my workshop for three or four years.
'A client had bought it in with lots of other furniture after buying it at auction.
'As part of the restoration process I needed to remove its back. The usual dirt and muck fell out, but also two pieces of paper.
He unfolded the paper and was amazed at what he saw.
The telegram congratulates Agatha Christie on her play The Mousetrap breaking the record for the longest running show in London's West End.
Noel Coward begrudgingly sent the note after Christie's play had beaten his own, Blithe Spirit, which had held the previous record.
The note reads: 'Dear Agatha Christie, much as it pains me I really must congratulate you on The Mousetrap breaking the long run record.
'All my good wishes, Noel Coward.' The other piece of paper turned out to be a receipt for model lingerie, housecoats and night wear from 1952 - addressed to a Mrs Mallowan from a shop in London.
It details a £24.13s.6d order. After a bit of research Mr Payne cracked the mystery - discovering that Christie's married name after her second marriage to archaeologist Max Mallowan in 1930.
Secret drawers: The receipt for Agatha Christie's underwear, found in the antique bureau
Secret drawers: The receipt for Agatha Christie's underwear, found in the antique bureau
The two valuable documents, which both now belong to the anonymous owner of the bureau, are not expected to be sold.
Mathew Prichard, Agatha Christie's grandson, said the letter would have caused his grandmother much pleasure.
He said today: 'I'd have thought to have had acknowledgement of her achievements at The Mousetrap running so long would have pleased her very much.
Gracious: Noel Coward congratulated Agatha Christie on beating his record for the longest running show in London's West End
Gracious: Noel Coward congratulated Agatha Christie on beating his record for the longest running show in London's West End
'The opinion of her peers and fellow entertainers meant a lot to her.' P
rolific writer Christie penned more than 80 crime novels, featuring some of the country's best-loved fictional detectives, including Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot.
She is widely regarded as the best-selling author of all time and was made a Dame five years before she died in 1976, aged 85.
The Torquay-born author is also known for her successful plays - including The Mousetrap.
The Mousetrap, a murder mystery, opened in London's West End in 1952 and became the longest running play on September 13, 1957.
Incredibly, it is still running today and has notched up more than 24,000 performances worldwide.
The play is also known for its twist ending, which the audience is asked not to reveal at the end of every performance.
English playwright Coward wrote more than 50 plays before his death in 1973.
Comic play Blithe Spirit - whose record was broken by The Mousetrap - notched up 1,997 performances after appearing in the West End in 1941.
Record breaking: The Mousetrap has notched up more than 24,000 performances worldwide
Record breaking: The Mousetrap has notched up more than 24,000 performances worldwide


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2022837/Telegram-sent-Noel-Coward-Agatha-Christie-congratulating-The-Mousetrap-old-bureau.html#ixzz1UFxuCWad

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