In 1926, the very popular English crime novelist Agatha Christie disappeared from her home in Berkshire, but what was the mystery behind her sudden vanishing?
Before delving into the details of Agatha Christie’s vanishing, it’s crucial to know about her and appreciate her life’s achievements.
1. Who was Agatha Christie?
If you enjoy reading mystery, thriller, or detective stories, you’ve probably come across Agatha Christie’s novel in your book collection. She is considered one of the greatest English authors in crime fiction, leaving behind a groundbreaking legacy for future writers to follow.
Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller Christie, also known as Lady Mallowan, was a renowned writer famous for creating over 50 detective novels and a decade’s worth of short story collections.
Among her notable works is the play “The Mousetrap.” Despite having doubts about its success, the play turned out to be the world’s longest-running play, continuously performed in the West End for more than several decades.
Agatha Christie earned the title “The Queen of Crime” , wrote extensively under the pen name Mary Westmacott, and also holds a place in the Guinness World Record as the best-selling fiction writer of all time.
2. Some Famous Agatha Christie Works
2.1. Detective Hercule Poirot
Hercule Poirot is a made-up character in over 33 books written by Agatha Christie. The first time we meet Poirot is in “The Mysterious Affair at Styles,” and his story ends in “Curtain.” The New York Times even dedicated its front page to remember him.
Poirot’s adventures happen in England, and he solves many cases, with the most famous being “Murder on the Orient Express.” “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” made him really renowned, too, and it’s still known as a great detective story.
Other books with Poirot are “The ABC Murders,” “Cards on the Table,” and “Death on the Nile” from 1937, which John Dickson Carr called one of the best mystery novels. Robert Barnard thinks “Five Little Pigs” is the best Christie mystery.
Sophie Hannah wrote a new Poirot story called “The Monogram Murders.” She’s the first author to make an original Poirot story after Christie. She also wrote “Closed Casket” and “The Mystery of Three Quarters.”
2.2. Miss Marple
Another character by Agatha Christie is Miss Marple. She’s a detective in St. Mary Mead, described as an amateur detective and a spinster, one of the most liked characters in Christie’s stories.
Miss Marple first appeared in “The Tuesday Night Club,” part of Christie’s short story collection “The Royal Magazine.” The story later became the first chapter in a novel called “The Thirteen Problems.”
Miss Marple’s last appearance was in “Sleeping Murder,” and Agatha Christie named her after a friend of her step-grandmother and created her because of a play that replaced another character, Caroline Sheppard, which made Christie sad.
Miss Marple is like a female detective; she knows a lot about art and the human body, and it’s hinted that she spent her childhood in a cathedral. Her age is never mentioned, but people think she’s around 75.
She has a big family but likes to live alone. Agatha Christie’s last work, “Sleeping Murder: Miss Marple’s Last Case,” was published after she passed away and was about Miss Marple’s final case.
2.3. Death on The Nile
“Death on The Nile” is a murder mystery that Agatha Christie wrote with Hercule Poirot.
It came out in 1937 and is set in Egypt, not connected to Christie’s earlier book with Parker Pyne. People liked the book for its plot, circumstances, and how it was presented to the public.
3. The Mysterious Disappearance of Agatha Christie
On the evening of Friday, December 3, 1926, Agatha Christie left her home in Berkshire, England, after kissing her sleeping daughter goodnight and driving away in her car, a Morris Cowley. Surprisingly, she didn’t return for 11 days.
This disappearance led to a massive search involving over a thousand police officers and many civilians. Even airplanes were used to find her, and famous crime writers like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Dorothy L. Sayers joined the search to use their expertise.
They found her car abandoned near Guildford, but Agatha was nowhere to be seen, and there was no sign of an accident. Speculation grew, and the media created various theories, including the possibility of suicide; some even thought it could be a publicity stunt for her new book.
After 11 days, on December 14, Agatha was found safe in a hotel in Harrogate, and the circumstances were strange – she couldn’t remember anything. The police concluded that she had crashed her car, taken a train to Harrogate, and checked into a hotel using a fake name – Theresa Neele, the name of her husband’s mistress.
During those eleven days, Agatha had joined social events in Harrogate without raising suspicions. She was recognized by a banjo player at the hotel, and the police informed her husband, Colonel Archibald Christie, who came to get her.
Agatha never explained what happened during those missing days. Her husband said it was memory loss from the car crash, but some believe she experienced a rare condition called psychogenic amnesia due to trauma or depression. Biographer Andrew Norman suggests she might have been in a low mental state and even had suicidal thoughts.
Agatha Christie recovered and continued her writing career. She divorced her first husband, who had been unfaithful and cheated on Agatha with Nancy Neale, his secretary, in 1928. She later married archaeologist Sir Max Mallowan. The mystery of those eleven days and Agatha Christie’s disappearance remains unknown.
4. The Crime Touch to Agatha’s Disappearance
The part that has not been mentioned above is that, after a few years of marriage, Agatha Christie’s husband realized that Agatha was a very powerful and independent woman, which was not too easy for him to accept. So, he cheated on Agatha with Nancy Neele.
He assumed that when he told his wife, the detective fiction maker, that he was dumping her, she would be okay with it. But no, Christie disappeared, and literally, like her books, it was very mysterious.
People also believe that Dame Agatha Christie did so, as she wanted to frame her husband for her murder. Well, if you did not expect drama from the missing writer, then what did you expect?