Mysteries of the "Mystery" Author Agatha Christie's Disappearance in 1926
Mysteries of the “Mystery” Author Agatha Christie’s Disappearance in 1926

Mysteries of the “Mystery” Author Agatha Christie’s Disappearance in 1926

Shannon Quinn - November 26, 2018

Mysteries of the “Mystery” Author Agatha Christie’s Disappearance in 1926
Newspaper coverage when Agatha Christie was found. Credit: Getty Images

Agatha Christie Found Alive

Two hundred miles away from her home, Agatha Christie relaxed in an exclusive spa resort in the town of Harrogate. She checked in under the name “Teresa Neele” and claimed to be from South Africa. Using the last name of her husband’s lover was a nice touch. When she met other hotel guests, she claimed that her baby daughter had recently died, and that she was grieving. She also claimed to have some memory loss and confusion.

It is possible that Agatha Christie underestimated her fame, because a lot of people staying in he hotel recognized her as the author immediately, but they let it go, because lots of celebrities showed up at the hotel. They figured she wanted her privacy, and left her alone. She spent her vacation going out dancing, listening to live bands, reading mystery novels in the hotel library, and being pampered at the spa.

Mysteries of the “Mystery” Author Agatha Christie’s Disappearance in 1926
Archie and Agatha Christie lied to the press to keep their secret. Credit: Getty Images

Eleven days after her disappearance, the news about Agatha Christie had spread throughout all of England, and two guests at the hotel recognized her from the photos. They went to their local police station to report her whereabouts. When they confronted her, she claimed that she had no idea that so many people were searching for her. In fact, she seemed horrified, as if she had never expected this to happen.

When she finally returned, Agatha Christie was welcomed back to her hometown with open arms. She told the press that she had amnesia, and she has no idea how she ended up 200 miles away in a fancy hotel. (Better yet, how could she afford such a fancy vacation if she didn’t remember her real identity?) Her husband agreed, and told the same story to the press, as well.

For the rest of her life, she refused to talk about why she left during press interviews, or reveal any new information about what happened during the time she went missing. Some people believed this was all an elaborate publicity stunt for her new novel, while others thought it was a suicide attempt, and she changed her mind at the last minute. A psychologist writing for “The Guardian” suggested that Agatha Christie suffered a state of amnesia for those 11 days, and that she wandered in a fugue state.

However, it was discovered that this was, in fact, an elaborate ruse planned by Agatha – and Archie’s own sister, Nan, helped her pull it off. After pushing her car down the hill, Agatha Christie walked to the nearest train station in her country town, and met up with Nan in London. Nan gave her new clothes and supplies, and she went the rest of the way by train to the spa. All of this was an elaborate hoax orchestrated to punish her husband for cheating on her, which makes her go down in history as getting the best revenge ever.

While Archie tried to keep her down, Agatha kept on flourishing. In 1928, she divorced her husband and married an archaeologist named Max Mallowan who was much better for her, and they grew old together. After her stunt, it only made her a more successful author, and her next novel flew off the shelves. There are few mystery writers who can say that they became a mystery themselves, and it only makes Agatha Christie more of a legend than anyone may have imagined.

 

Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

Christie’s Most Famous Mystery Solved at Last. Vanessa Thorpe. The Guardian. 2006.

Agatha Christie’s 1926 Disappearance. Patricia Daniels. Thought Co. 2017

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