Agatha Christie? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: Necessity is the mother of invention according to the well-known proverb, but the brilliant mystery writer Agatha Christie disagreed. She suggested that the crucial motivation was laziness. Would you please help me to find a citation?
Quote Investigator: In 1976 Agatha Christie died, and the following year her autobiography was published. Christie discussed work and invention within one passage, and she mentioned George Stephenson who was a railway and steam locomotive pioneer. The ellipsis below was in the original text. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1
Presumably little Georgie Stephenson was enjoying idleness when he observed his mother’s tea-kettle lid rising and falling. Having nothing at the moment to do, he began to have ideas about it. . . .
I don’t think necessity is the mother of invention—invention, in my opinion, arises directly from idleness, possibly also from laziness. To save oneself trouble. That is the big secret that has brought us down the ages hundreds of thousands of years, from chipping flints to switching on the washing-up machine.
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1977, Agatha Christie: An Autobiography by Agatha Christie, Part 3: Growing Up, Quote Page 121, Dodd, Mead & Company, New York. (Verified with scans) ↩