With The Mousetrap opening almost a week away, here at GLT we thought we would prompt you to don your mystery solving hat on this rainy day and take a look at one of Agatha Christie's greatest mysteries, her own 11 day disappearance in 1926. Do any of you die-hard Christie fans have a hypothesis? Are you Nancy Drew enough to sleuth out the answer? Let us know your theories in the comments!
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The year is 1926 and Agatha Christie is known across the globe after having established herself with six novels released, all selling well. She has the perfect husband, family life, and career, or so it would seem. What many don’t know is that Agatha Christie’s greatest mystery of all time may have been her very own disappearance.
On Friday, December 3rd, Agatha Christie suddenly went missing. Many journalists and avid Christie fans call her extraordinary 11 day disappearance a ‘why-dunnit’ rather than a
‘who-dunnit’. Around 9:45pm, it is said that she drove away from her home after kissing her daughter goodnight. Her abandoned car, a Morris Cowley, was later found down a slope 30 miles south-west of London, at Newlands Corner, by an eerie natural spring known as the Silent Pool with a fur coat and a driving license inside but no sign of Christie. For 11 days the country hummed with theories about Christie’s vanishment into thin air.
Such was the pressure to solve the mystery that some of the worlds greatest crime writers were hot on the case. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, took a discarded glove of Christie’s to a medium and Dorothy L Sayers, author of the Lord Peter Wimsey books, visited the scene of Christie’s disappearance, later using it as a location in one of her novels.
Her disappearances ignited an extensive manhunt with over 1,000 police officers and 15,000 volunteers searching for the author. Many suspects were brought into question. Some thought it was just a publicity stunt for her novel. Most suspicion fell on Agatha’s husband, Colonel Archie Christie, a man who seemed to have more interest in golf and women other than his wife. On the day of her disappearance Archie had told Agatha he would be spending the weekend “with friends”, which she knew meant his mistress, Nancy Neele.
11 days later, Christie was discovered at a spa hotel in Harrogate, over 200 miles north of where her car had been found. She had registered under the surname of her husband’s lover, Neele. It was later claimed that she had suffered from a serious case of amnesia brought on by trauma or depression. Many believe she had considered taking her own life by the Silent Pool, but thought better of it for the sake of her daughter and her Christian beliefs. Agatha claimed to have no recollection of the incident or her actions during that 11 day stint, but many are still not convinced.
There has been much speculation as to the validity of these amnesiac claims. Was it all a ploy? A cover-up for what Christie was really trying to do? To run away and/or harm the man who had hurt her but for whom she still cared deeply? The world may never know, but we can say for sure that the Queen of Crime has always kept us guessing until the very last minute, even when it comes to her own real-life mystery.