Joan Hickson

Joan Bogle Hickson, OBE (5 August 1906 – 17 October 1998) was an English actress of theatre, film and television. She was known for her role as Agatha Christie's Miss Marple in the television series Miss Marple. She also narrated a number of Miss Marple stories on audio books.

Joan Hickson OBE
Hickson as Miss Marple
Joan Bogle Hickson[1]

(1906-08-05)5 August 1906
Died17 October 1998(1998-10-17) (aged 92)
Colchester, Essex, England
Years active1927–1993
Spouse(s)Eric Butler (m. 1932–1967; his death)
AwardsTony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play
1979 Bedroom Farce


Born in Kingsthorpe, Northampton, Hickson was a daughter of Edith Mary (née Bogle) and Alfred Harold Hickson, a shoe manufacturer. Boarding at Oldfield School at Swanage in Dorset she went on to train at RADA in London.[2] Making her stage debut in 1927, she worked for several years throughout the United Kingdom and achieved success playing comedic, often eccentric characters in London's West End, including the role of the cockney maid Ida in the original production of See How They Run, at the Q Theatre in 1944, and then at the Comedy Theatre in January 1945.[3]

She made her first film appearance in 1934. The numerous supporting roles of her career included several Carry On films including Sister in Carry On Nurse and Mrs May in Carry On Constable.

In the 1940s she appeared on-stage in an Agatha Christie play, Appointment with Death, which was seen by Christie who wrote in a note to her, "I hope one day you will play my dear Miss Marple".[4] From 1963–66 she played Mrs. Peace, housekeeper to Reverend Stephen Young (played by Donald Sinden) in the highly rated TV series Our Man At St. Mark's. Hickson played the housekeeper in the Marple film Murder, She Said in 1961 (based on Agatha Christie's original novel 4.50 From Paddington), which starred Margaret Rutherford as Miss Marple. From 1970–71, she played Mrs Pugsley in Bachelor Father. Hickson played Mrs Chambers in Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads? In 1986, she played the part of Mrs. Trellis in Clockwise.

Her stage career included roles in Noël Coward's Blithe Spirit, the Tony Hatch-Jackie Trent 1975 musical The Card, and Alan Ayckbourn's Bedroom Farce, for which she won a 1979 Tony Award for 'Best Featured Actress in a Play'. In 1980 she appeared in yet another Agatha Christie production, as Mrs. Rivington in Why Didn't They Ask Evans?.

The BBC began filming the works of Agatha Christie in the mid 1980s, and were conscious of the criticism that had been levelled at the portrayal of Miss Marple given by Margaret Rutherford. In making a new series, the makers determined to remain faithful to the plotlines and locales of Christie's stories, and most importantly to represent Miss Marple as written. Hickson played the role in all 12 adaptations of the novels produced from 1984 to 1992, and received two BAFTA nominations for Best TV Actress, 1987 and 1988. When the OBE was bestowed on Hickson in June 1987,[5] Queen Elizabeth II was reported to have said, "You play the part just as one envisages it."[6] When Hickson retired from the role, believing that she should stop while the programme was still at the peak of its popularity, she stated that she had no intention of retiring from acting altogether.[7]


From 1958, Hickson lived in Rose Lane, Wivenhoe, along the River Colne 43 miles from London in Essex, until her death in 1998. A plaque now marks the house where she lived for 40 years.[8]


In October 1932 in Hampstead, London, Hickson married Eric Norman Butler (born 2 September 1902 in Westbury, Wiltshire), a physician with whom she had two children.[9] Her husband died in June 1967 in Colchester, Essex.[10]


Hickson died in Colchester General Hospital from a stroke, aged 92.[11][12] She is interred under her married name, Joan Bogle Butler, at Sidbury Cemetery in Devon.

Miss Marple filmography

Series 1

Series 2

Series 3

Partial filmography


  1. "Index entry". FreeBMD. United Kingdom: ONS. Retrieved 22 May 2011.
  2. "Joan Hickson — RADA".
  3. "Hickson [married name Butler], Joan Bogle (1906–1998), actress : Oxford Dictionary of National Biography - oi". doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/71118.
  4. Haining, Peter. Agatha Christie – Murder in Four Acts (Page 140). 1990. Virgin Books. ISBN 1-85227-273-2
  5. "No. 50948". The London Gazette (Supplement). 12 June 1987. p. 9.
  6. Deacon, Michael (22 September 2007). "Checking in to murder". Telegraph. Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  7. Alexandra Younger and Tom Vallance. "Obituary: Joan Hickson | Culture". The Independent. Retrieved 24 June 2016.
  8. Essex - December 2016, retrieved 2 February 2017
  9. England & Wales, Birth Index 1916-2005
  10. England & Wales, Death Index, 1967
  11. "Miss Marple actress dies at 92". BBC. 18 October 1998. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
  12. Lyall, Sarah (20 October 1998). "Joan Hickson, Miss Marple on TV, Dies at 92". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 September 2010.
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