1990 was the centenary of Agatha Christie's birth and there were numerous commemorations, including tours by travel companies of the sites connected with her novels, the most expensive being, of course, a journey on the Orient Express. As Christie herself said as late as 1975, Miss Marple's village 'is as real as it could be – and indeed there are several villages remarkably like it, even in these days'. Although Miss Marple has many literary antecedents, some of the details of her characterization derive from Christie's personal experience, from her memories of her Ealing grandmother and her grandmother's friends. Christie had already written nine detective novels before the first Miss Marple novel, The Murder at the Vicarage, was published in 1930, and had created several detectives: Hercule Poirot, Tommy and Tuppence Beresford, and Superintendent Battle. The inter-war period was the heyday of the spinster and it was also, as Christie implies, a propitious time for detective fiction.