When the news broke in 1926 that the famous mystery writer Agatha Christie disappeared, the world must have been both amused, and shocked at the same time. She might have been pulling a prank on everyone while researching for her new novel, but she might have also been in danger. Which was it? We have an incredible story that sounds just as if it came straight out of her books. Some people believe they have solved the mystery of what happened, so read on to find out more!
Christie disappeared for eleven days, and the news traveled around the world as fast as a lightning strike. Her fans didn’t know whether to for her or if she was just proving her literary genius by doing deep research on her next book. For many years, historians and detectives couldn’t figure out what really happened, but now we are closer to the truth than ever. Was it the greatest mystery of all?
Christie holds a firm place among the best writers of history and is famous for her mystery novels. She gave us many iconic characters which we love- Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple among them, and she wrote novels which all over the world. But although we know she liked a lot of mysteries in her books, what we might not realize is that she held a big mystery of her own!
Arguably, it was Christie’s own disappearance which was the ultimate mystery of her life. The eleven days of her being gone were unsolved for years, and it is only now that we might closer to untangling what really happened. But the truth remains that she couldn’t have made up this story better even if she tried. How did it all begin you ask?
The first suspect of a disappearance case might often be the spouse. Christie was married to the British Army officer Archibald Christie with whom she had one daughter named Rosalind, but after the birth of their child, things sour for their marriage. What went wrong?
Christie’s husband Archibald fought in World War I for many years, and after his return, he began an affair with a younger secretary by the name of Nancy Neele. What was shocking was that he didn't even try to hide it from her. Maybe he knew that she was a great detective and his efforts would be useless. But she didn’t take the affair lightly!
It was natural that Christie, being aware of the affair, would feel resentment and anger towards her husband. She felt she didn't deserve this kind of treatment and knew she was better than whatever her husband gave her. The married couple often fought about these issues, but one fight, in particular, might have taken it too far. Was it the cause of Christie’s disappearance?
Christie’s marriage was not rosy at all. At the end of summer 1926, as things escalated between them, Archibald asked Christie for a divorce. And she refused! They spend the next months fighting, but everything got out of hand when Archibald told Christie one night that he planned to go away for the weekend with his friends. Without her! What was her reaction?
It was December 3, 1926, and at about 9:30 at night, Christie went to kiss her daughter goodnight and then walked out of her home in Berkshire. It was the last time before that she has disappeared. The police investigation began soon. Was anyone concerned?
What raised a lot of concern among people who knew her was that Christie was not the person who would just leave her child like that. They suspected that the fact that she left no trace of herself was proof that something must have happened to her. She was not someone who would worry her closed ones like that. But were they right?
As soon as the police got the call about Christie’s disappearance, they knew this was an event and that they had to handle it carefully. Christie was already a celebrity all over the world, and they wanted to avoid the case becoming a sensation. They needed privacy and peace to work. But they might have been asking for too much.
As the search began, it also quickly became one of the largest search cases ever conducted in Britain. 1,000 to the case and an incredible amount of 15,000 volunteers joined the search. Newspapers all around the country began helping the search efforts as well in any way they could, and it was then that the police landed on a very important piece of evidence. What was it?
Two days after , Christie’s car, a two-seater Morris Cowley abandoned. The car was hanging over the edge of a chalk pit, and only a thick hedge prevented the car from crashing down into the pit itself. On the passenger seat, the police found Christie’s jacket, some other personal items. Things were suspicious and grim. What was going on?
The media was already going crazy about Christie’s case, but with the new evidence of her abandoned car, everything blew up even more. It was now an international sensation and front-page news all over the world. This was only adding pressure for the police force in charge, but they didn’t realize that the plot would thicken even more!
A few days after Christie’s disappearance, her brother-in-law came out saying that Christie wrote him a personal letter. The letter apparently stated that she was ill to a spa in Yorkshire to rest and get some treatment. Was the mystery solved? It surely couldn’t have been that simple!
The letter was not enough evidence to convince the police, and they continued their search for Christie despite it. They couldn’t understand why Christie would abandon her car over the edge of a pit if she just wanted some rest at a spa. No new evidence was coming in, and the police grew more suspicious every day. Soon they got reinforcements though!
Thousands of volunteers were helping to look for Christie, but it was one other prominent writer who also wanted to lend a helping hand. It was no other than the world’s most famous crime author- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The inventor of Sherlock Holmes was also highly spiritual, and at one point took one of Christie’s gloves to a medium, hoping they would have the answers about her case. Other things were coming to the surface though!
Because there was no solution in sight for the case, people started speculating wildly. Some thought she was in danger, some that this was a publicity stunt for her new book, and some even thought she disappeared because something terrible happened. But she was in a different place!
Days went by and the police were not getting any closer to solving the mystery of finding Christie. At one point, they turned their interest to the nearby natural springs called Silent Pool, as this was a place that was supposedly dangerous. But even after combing through the area, they found no sign of Christie and had to go back to square one. But a twist to the story was about to emerge!
It took a whole week after the disappearance report for the police to uncover a very important piece of evidence. It turned out that Christie did leave something behind when she left home- three notes. to her husband, but he refused to hand it in, saying it was a personal note of no importance. for her brother-in-law who said the same thing. Both brothers burned the letters. But one was still intact!
The last note Christie left was to her secretary. She had a very close relationship with her, so that she would reveal her plans to her in the note. Many speculations went around what the note said, but later the police confirmed it only listed ordinary instructions to cancel some meetings over the upcoming weekend. It was another dead-end. Until it all sense!
On the evening of December 15, the police received a promising tip over the phone. A person in Harrogate, a city four hours away from Christie’s home, stated they spotted her at a local party. The location of the party was a famous hotel which was also a spa for the rich ladies of that time. Could have this elite spa the mystery?
As soon as the police got the phone call, they set off to Harrogate. When they arrived, they found out Christie used a fake name to check-in, and the name she used was rather shocking. It was the last name of the secretary her husband was having an affair with! When the police and her husband approached her in the hotel lobby, she seemed unaffected and calmly walked to her room to get changed. Were even more questions raised now?
A few days after, Christie’s husband told the media that she must have been suffering from memory loss or some other strange affliction, since she was the secretary, rather than herself. She was not aware of the events that happened, and everyone got even more worried about her health. Should they have?
The news of Christie’s discovery went around the world, and it was yet another sensation on the front pages. But that didn’t mean that. Far from it! Although Christie was in a stable state. Everyone was still puzzled about what happened during her eleven days of disappearance. And things were once again getting complicated!
When questioned by the police again, Christie's husband had no more answers about the event. He couldn’t explain anything about what had happened. Nothing was being explained, and no one knew how she ended up in the spa hotel, all by herself, so far from home. But Christie remembered something!
Years after the case, Christie would still very rarely speak about what actually happened. But only a few days after the events, she shared the most complete account of everything. And it made everything even stranger. She blamed everything on a so-called dreamlike state where she was given a new identity. She stated that one evening, she thought of driving the car down a pit, but then remembered her daughter, so she didn’t do it. Was this the final truth?
Christie also shared that she felt very bad about her life circumstances, and she could not go on anymore. That is when she got in her car and started driving, ending up with the idea of throwing the car down a pit. She recalls the car then hit something and she bumped her head. After that point, she was no longer Christie, she was someone else. An avalanche of theories began!
Christie gave us very fragmented recollections of the events, and we never had the full story, so people were left to their own devices to put the events in order. Several theories emerged about the case, mostly stating that she suffered from amnesia or had an out-of-body experience. Would these theories be right?
A whole 15 months after the disappearance, Christie was in the news once again. This time, it was because of her divorce which she finally agreed to. Her husband, just a week after the divorce, remarried to the secretary he was having an affair with. But what was in store for Christie?
Christie remarried as well, to a well-known archeologist Max Mallowan. They were happily married until the end of their lives. In the end, Christie found a good life for herself and was freed from the terrible marriage with Archibald, even though it cost her a lot of pain. The mystery of what transpired in December 1926 might never be completely solved, but that is just how Christie would have wanted it.
Even though Christie was one of the best mystery writers who ever lived, the biggest mystery of her life was the one even she couldn’t solve. Maybe she was just hiding the real truth, and maybe she really didn’t know any more than we did, but nevertheless, her eleven-day disappearance will be a happy-ending mystery case for centuries.