Barbara Parker-Mallowan was the wife of Sir Max Mallowan, an English archaeologist, and the second and last husband of English writer Agatha Christie. She was born on July 14, 1908, in England. Barbara Parker-Mallowan was an Assyriologist, epigraphist, and archeologist; she majored in cylinder seals.
Barbara Parker-Mallowan was good friends with Agatha Christie; they were both women who loved archeology. There were claims that Barbara had a romantic relationship with Max when he was married to Agatha, but according to Agatha, her marriage was great. Upon the death of Agatha Christie in 1976, Barbara married Sir Max Mallowan.
Barbara Parker-Mallowan and Sir Max were together for only a year before Max died in 1978. Her love story with Max was short-lived, but she continued with her passion for archeology until she died. It is unclear if Barbara Parker-Mallowan was ever in love with someone before marrying Sir Max.
Barbara’s Major Work
Barbara Parker-Mallowan began her career as an archaeologist at an early age and was based in Baghdad. She worked at the British School of Archeology in Iraq under Robert Hamilton in the 1940s before succeeding him as the school secretary. She also served as the librarian of the school between 1950 and 1961.
In her last decade, Barbara Parker-Mallowan served as the British School of Archaeology president. She also worked under her future husband, Max Mallowan, and remained loyal and obedient to him. Given her experience as an archeologist, Barbara Parker-Mallowan taught archeology in Mesopotamia and at the Institute of Archaeology in London, England.
Barbara also participated in research and excavations in Tell Brak, Tell al-Rimah, and Nimrud. In 1962, Barbara was appointed by Queen Elizabeth II as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.
Barbara’s husband went through all the levels of education before starting to work; he attended Rokeby School before joining Lancing College. After college, Max worked at an archaeological site as an apprentice for five years. It was at the site where he met Agatha Christie, who had been divorced from her first husband.
When Barbara Parker-Mallowan’s husband met Agatha, he was 25 while Agatha was 40; they liked each other and married the following year; at first, Agatha was concerned with Max’s age, but it was her best marriage as they stayed together until she died in 1976.
In the 1930s, Barbara’s husband worked as the field director at the British School of Archaeology and the British Museum. He led several others in excavating across Iraq and Syria. During World War II, Barbara’s husband worked with Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in several ranks. From 1947 to 1961, Max Mallowan served as a professor at the University of London, teaching archeology.
Barbara’s husband significantly impacted archeology, and he recorded some of his work in the autobiography Twenty-five Years of Mesopotamian Discovery. Max died on August 19, 1978, and his body was buried at St Mary’s churchyard in Cholsey, Oxfordshire.
Barbara Parker-Mallowan died in 1993 in Wallingford, England, aged 85. She died of natural causes.