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Agatha Christie novel tells her Alzheimer's tale

Popular novelist Agatha Christie, who was never diagnosed with Alzheimer's in her lifetime, apparently revealed in one of her last novels that she was suffering from the disease.

books Updated: Jun 02, 2010 17:43 IST

Popular novelist Agatha Christie, who was never diagnosed with Alzheimer's in her lifetime, apparently revealed in one of her last novels that she was suffering from the disease.

An English professor crunched its text in a database and compared it to earlier novels.

The number of different words used dropped by an "astounding" 20 per cent, while her use of indefinite words like "thing" or "something" rose, reports NPR. Christie was never diagnosed with Alzheimer's in life, though friends recall her complaining about a lack of concentration.

"I did not want to say what was said in the end," says the University of Toronto professor, who spent 2 years checking his results with other experts.

"That yes, the data supported a view that she had developed Alzheimer's."

What's more, the book in question was Elephants Can Remember, which revolves around a female novelist with failing memory. Christie may have sensed her own plight but kept writing, which the researcher calls "heroic."