In the original UK novel all references to “Indians” or “Soldiers” were originally “Nigger”, including the island’s name, the pivotal rhyme found by the visitors, and the ten figurines. (In Chapter 7, Vera Claythorne becomes semi-hysterical at the mention by Miss Brent of “our black brothers”, which is understandable only in the context of the original name.) UK editions changed to the current definitive title in 1985. The word “nigger” was already racially offensive in the United States by the start of the 20th century, and therefore the book’s first US edition and first serialization changed the title to And Then There Were None and removed all references to the word from the book, as did the 1945 motion picture.
Ten little nigger boys went out to dine; One choked his little self, and then there were nine.
Someone I’m sure will turn up their noses because I put a crime story among the great classics of literature! But it is time that the purists open their eyes and realise that if it is the most widely read genre in the world there will be a reason, and that if they do not believe their contemporaries should admit that this little Christie’s masterpiece has nothing to be envied to today’s thrillers and noir, indeed it should be taken as an example because in its simplicity and continuous suspense is truly a hypnotic and splendid book, but it is in fact a classic given the vastness of reworkings, re-releases, re-editions and quotes!
Nine little nigger boys sat up very late; One overslept himself, and then there were eight.