Question & AnswersCategory: Generalreferencing-another-authors-character
Lynn Hardaker asked 3 years ago

Hi Sarah and Polly, I\’m currently plotting a middle grade novel and wanted to include a peripheral, fictitious character. What are the legal implications? The character belongs to Agatha Christie. I\’ve searched online, but have run up against conflicting information. Many thanks! Best, Lynn.

1 Answers
Sarah Davies Staff answered 3 years ago

Hi Lynn
Interesting question, and not one we’ve been asked before. If you don’t mind me saying, it seems somewhat unusual to include a character from another author’s novel. It’s one thing to “reference” a character perhaps, and another to take that character over and use him/her in your own story – which I presume is what you are intending. 
The big question is whether or not the original work is in copyright. I can’t remember the precise situation on Agatha Christie, but I do know there’s an estate that is quite powerful.  http://www.agathachristie.com/about-agatha-christie-limited
My guess therefore is that it would be very difficult to use a Christie character – or not without asking permission, paying (possibly quite a lot) and including credits etc. I have a gut feeling you could be opening a major can of worms, and if you can avoid this situation it might be wise to do so. 
Do hope this helps.
Sarah