Sunday, October 23, 2016

Agatha Christie's Ultimate Mystery: The 11-Missing Days

In a plot twist worthy of her own novels, the famous novelist Agatha Christie, the creator of fictional detectives Hercule Poirot and Jane Marple, disappeared for 11-days in 1926.

At 9.30 PM, Friday 3 December 1926, Agatha Christie climbed into her Morris Cowley and drove off into the night. She would not be seen again for eleven days.

Christie was already a very popular author and her disappearance led to the entire country buzzing with all kinds of theories about what could have happened to her. The government of the day put pressure on the police to make faster progress.

One of the largest manhunts in England was launched. More than one thousand policemen were assigned to the case, along with hundreds of civilians. For the first time, aeroplanes were also involved in the search.

The police soon found her car abandoned near Guildford. But there was no sign of Agatha Christie herself and nor was there any evidence of her being involved in an accident. Suicide seemed unlikely because her career as an author was at its peak. There was no ransom demand so this did not seem like a case of kidnapping. Murder could not be established as there was no trace of the body.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes, was interested in occult and he tried to find her location by using her discarded gloves. Dorothy L Sayers, author of the Lord Peter Wimsey series, visited the scene of her disappearance and used the clues in the novel Unnatural Death. Some people suggested that her disappearance could be a publicity stunt for her new mystery novel.

Eleven days after she had disappeared, on 14 December 1926, she was finally located. She was found safe and well in a hotel in Harrogate. Bizarrely, she was living under the assumed name of Theresa Neele, her husband’s mistress. The circumstances raised more questions than they solved. Christie could not provide any clues to what had happened. She claimed that she remembered nothing.

Till today it is not clear why Christie disappeared for 11-days. But some commentators have suggested that her disappearance might be related to some kind of amnesia induced by stress. 

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