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Murgatroyd and Miss Hinchliffe, two women featured in ‘A Murder Is Announced’ novel by Agatha Christie very much suggest a certain type of lesbian relationship of ‘Partners’. This term didn’t exclusively refer to women as a couple in the 20th century, however, women who were publicly recognised as living together as partners or friends often suggested a lesbian relationship. Additionally, lesbians often conformed to either the masculine and feminine or ‘butch/fem’ stereotypes at this time, with one preferring men’s clothes and the other more female attire.

In the book Murgatroyd is the feminine, “fat and amiable”. She wears the housedress, does the laundry, and defers to her partner. Miss Hinchcliffe is the butch tall woman, has a "short man-like crop" of hair, and a "weather-beaten countenance". She wears the boots, slops the pigs, drives the car, and brags about drinking. SPOILER: Upon the murder of Murgatroyd, Hinchcliffe vows that the killer will pay.

Regarding the basis of these characters, Agatha Christie had a London residence in Swan Court just off Kings Road, a 7-minute walk from which was the Gateway Club, 239 King’s Road, a lesbian members only club where Christie may have observed the stereotypical depictions of ‘Partners’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1903 depiction of women in

1903 depiction of women in "femme" and "butch" apparel.

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