One lucky reader in Gloucestershire has bagged themselves a rare copy of the most famous whodunnit in history, as a signed copy of Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap has been sold at an auction in the Cotswolds.
The Cotswold Auction Company, which hosts auctions in Cirencester and Cheltenham as well as online, sold the rare copy along with a collection of signed memorabilia from the stage show for £1,900 on Tuesday 6 June 2023.
The book features a signed dedication from Agatha Christie herself addressed to actor James Grout, who was best known for playing Chief Inspector Strange in the Inspector Morse television series, and also starred in the stage adaptation of The Mousetrap — the longest-running show in London's West End.
The dedication says: 'For James Grout on our sixth birthday, Agatha Christie.'
Grout died in 2012 and the rare book was part of an extensive collection of books from Grout's estate which came up for auction.
Memorabilia which sold alongside the book included a programme from the 25th anniversary performance of The Mousetrap in November 1977 signed by Prime Minister James Callaghan, James Bond star Roger Moore and BBC newsreader Angela Rippon.
A number of other signed volumes also caught bidders' attention, including a copy of Inspector Morse novel The Daughters of Cain signed by the author Colin Dexter; a biography of Tennessee Williams signed by the cast of his play Sweet Bird of Youth, which included Lauren Bacall and Harold Pinter; and books signed by Gone With The Wind star Vivien Leigh and Rising Damp actor Leonard Rossiter.
While they're not likely to find a signed copy of The Mousetrap in the festival bookshop, Agatha Christie fans can catch Dr Kathryn Harkup's talk about her book A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie at Cheltenham Science Festival on Sunday 11 June 2023 — where we're sure she'll be happy to sign a copy or two!