All in the Mind: Perceptions of Katherine Routledge and Agatha Christie

Michelle Richards1 & Hilary Howes2

1Department of Archaeology and History, La Trobe University, Australia

2Australian National University, Australia

Katherine Routledge (1866-1935) and Agatha Christie (1890-1976) have many things in common. Most notably, they were great early 20th Century female explorers who participated in archaeological expeditions to remote corners of the world. Routledge voyaged to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and through the remote Polynesian islands, while Christie took annual expeditions to Syria and Iraq to excavations at Ur, Nineveh, Tell Arpachiyah, Chagar Bazar, Tell Brak, and Nimrud. Naturally, their husbands, both prominent archaeologists of the time, were there too, but the accomplished and published work of these women produced from these expeditions is outstanding. Yet, to what extent are our perceptions of their legacies negatively influenced by the subsequent portrayal of their undiagnosed mental health disorders? Historically, women with mental health disorders have been misdiagnosed, misunderstood, and misinterpreted, and the work of many such women was subsequently rejected or dismissed because it was considered biased by hysteria. This paper explores whether these two women were, in fact, an exception to this trend.