history 101

History 101: Agatha Christie’s 11-day disappearance

For past installments, head over here to the History 101 page!

AAAHHHH, History 101 is back! It’s been almost two years since the last post – can you believe it’s been that long? For new followers, History 101 is one of my favorite features here where I step away from book reviews for a bit and let my history-loving heart run wild. In previous posts I’ve discussed art heists, America’s first serial killer, Ernest Hemingway, and more!

Today’s topic is something I’ve wanted to discuss for well over a year now (and was actually the basis of last year’s NaNoWriMo project!) Agatha Christie. With countless books to her name (and even more under a pseudonym) Christie is a household name and the quintessential mystery writer. Her real life, however, was just as mysterious as her novels and for an 11-day period in 1926, Christie simply vanished. Though there are theories, to this day no one knows exactly what happened or why she vanished. What is known however, is that:

  • Her husband was in love with another woman and wanted a divorce. After an argument Christie left their home and later her abandoned car was found.
  • When the news of her disappearance got out, crime novelists such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Dorothy Sayers joined the hunt.
  • Once she was found, Christie could not recall where she had been or the circumstances that led to her leaving her home, though it was discovered she had boarded a train and checked into a hotel under the name of her husband’s mistress.

At the time, people thought that Archie, her husband, had murdered Agatha. There was talk of a publicity stunt or that Christie purposefully vanished in an attempt to embarrass her unfaithful husband. It has also been said that Christie suffered from amnesia, thus explaining why she had no recollection of where she went or why. Yet another theory suggests she was in a ‘fugue’ state, a trance of sorts, brought on by severe depression (her mother had passed the year before and she was still grieving over the loss in addition to her work schedule and Archie’s infidelity.)

Though she made a full recovery and went back to writing, Christie never discussed the incident, not even in her autobiography. I recently fell hard for my first Hercule Poirot novel and look forward to binging on the rest, but this just goes to show that truth really is stranger than fiction!

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4 thoughts on “History 101: Agatha Christie’s 11-day disappearance

  1. I saw a documentary about this a few years ago, either on PBS or A & E. I think you could probably find it on Netflix or Amazon streaming.
    This is a great feature, you should do more of it. I love history, too.

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