The Witness for the Prosecution
"The Witness for the Prosecution" is a short story and play by British author Agatha Christie. The story was initially published as "Traitor's Hands" in Flynn's, a weekly pulp magazine, in the edition of 31 January 1925. In 1933, the story was published for the first time as "Witness for the Prosecution" in the collection The Hound of Death that appeared only in the United Kingdom. In 1948, it was finally published in the United States in the collection The Witness for the Prosecution and Other Stories.
Leonard Vole is arrested for the murder of Emily French, a wealthy older woman. Unaware that he was a married man, Miss French made him her principal heir, casting suspicion on Leonard. When his wife, Romaine, agrees to testify, she does so not in Leonard's defence but as a witness for the prosecution. Romaine's decision is part of a complicated plan to free her husband. She first gives the prosecution its strongest evidence, then fabricates new evidence that discredits her testimony, believing that this improves Leonard's chances of acquittal far more than her testimony for the defence. It is then revealed that Leonard Vole actually did kill Emily French.
The original story ended abruptly with the major twist, Mrs. Vole's revelation that her husband was indeed guilty. Over time, Agatha Christie grew dissatisfied with this ending (one of the few Christie endings in which a murderer escapes punishment). In her subsequent rewriting of the story as a play she added a mistress for Leonard, who does not appear until the end of the play. The mistress and Leonard are about to leave Romaine (called "Christine" in the film and television versions) to be arrested for perjury, when Romaine grabs a knife and stabs Leonard dead.
- Leonard Vole, the accused
- Emily French, the victim
- Romaine Vole, the wife of the accused
- Mr Mayhew / Mayherne, the solicitor of the accused
- Sir Wilfrid Robarts, QC, senior counsel of the accused
- Mr Myers, QC, the Crown prosecutor
- Mr Justice Wainwright, the judge
- Inspector Hearne, the arresting officer
- Greta, Sir Wilfrid's typist
- Carter, Sir Wilfrid's clerk
- 1925: Flynn's Weekly, 31 January – as "Traitor Hands"
- 1933: The Hound of Death
- 1948: The Witness for the Prosecution and Other Stories
- 1993: The Mousetrap & Other Plays
In other media
- Witness for the Prosecution was adapted as a play by Agatha Christie. The play opened in London on 28 October 1953 at the Winter Garden Theatre, produced by Peter Saunders, and directed by Wallace Douglas. The premiere cast included Derek Blomfield as Leonard Vole, Patricia Jessel as Romaine Vole, and David Horne as Sir Wilfrid Robarts.
- 2002 Свидетель обвинения (Russia)
- 2005 Khara Sangaycha Tar (Marathi)
- 2011 (検察側の証人 [Kensatsugawa no shonin] ) Witness for the Prosecution (Japan)
- 2018 "奪命証人" Witness for the Prosecution by Carina Lau, Paul Chun Pui and Tse Kwan Ho (Hong Kong)
- 2018 Amar Kono Satyo Nei (Bengali)
- A film version of Witness for the Prosecution was produced in 1957, with Tyrone Power as Leonard Vole, Marlene Dietrich as Christine Vole and Charles Laughton as Sir Wilfrid Robarts Q.C.. The film was adapted by Larry Marcus, Harry Kurnitz and the film's director, Billy Wilder.
- In August 2016, Variety reported that Ben Affleck is in talks to direct and star in a remake of Witness for the Prosecution. Christopher Keyser will write the script, and Affleck will produce with Matt Damon, Jennifer Todd and the Agatha Christie estate.
- Witness for the Prosecution was developed for BBC Television in 1949, with Dale Rogers as Leonard Vole, Mary Kerridge as Romaine Vole and Derek Elphinstone as Sir Wilfrid Robarts Q.C.. This version was directed by John Glyn-Jones and adapted by Sidney Budd.
- A second version of Witness for the Prosecution was developed for CBS television in 1953, with Tom Drake as Leonard Vole, Andrea King as Romaine Vole and Edward G. Robinson as Sir Wilfrid Robarts Q.C.. This version was directed by Richard Goode and adapted by Anne Howard Bailey.
- Another version of Witness for the Prosecution was developed for Hallmark television in 1982, with Beau Bridges as Leonard Vole, Diana Rigg as Christine Vole and Ralph Richardson as Sir Wilfrid Robarts Q.C.. This version was based on the Billy Wilder movie with adaptions by John Gay, and was directed by Alan Gibson.
- The BBC developed another two-part version of The Witness for the Prosecution for Christmas 2016 and first broadcast on 26 and 27 December, with Kim Cattrall as Emily French, Billy Howle as Leonard Vole, Andrea Riseborough as Romaine Vole, Toby Jones as John Mayhew, and David Haig as Sir Charles Carter.
- Christie, Agatha (2000). The Mousetrap, & other plays. New York: Penguin Putnam Books. ISBN 978-0-451-20114-0.
- Ben Affleck Directing, Starring in ‘Witness for the Prosecution’ Remake
- "Kim Cattrall, Toby Jones and Andrea Riseborough cast in Agatha Christie's The Witness for the Prosecution".