Monday, February 23, 2015

Historical News: Mrs. Agatha Christie Found Alive / Behind Her Mysterious Disappearance

"Mrs. Agatha Christie Found Alive." That was the headline of the front page news of the London's Daily Sketch newspaper, dated December 15, 1926. Agatha Christie's mysterious disappearance of 11 days baffled police, doctors, family, friends and even fans for decades. Analyzing the events before Mrs. Christie disappearance could gives us some clues as to what may have happened to one of the world's best selling novelist of all times. Could the 80 years old mystery finally been resolved?

The following are the circumstances that could have lead to the author's mysterious disappearance.

Agatha Christie lost her mother Clara Miller in death on April 1926. Her husband Archie was away on a business trip in Spain. After he arrived he didn't gave to his wife the comfort and support that she needed. He hated "illness, death, and trouble." Her husband left to London leaving Agatha to deal with her mother's death alone. At that period of loneliness Agatha describes certain moments where she felt confused and out of sorts. For instance she would forget her own name when signing a check or she will burst out and cry when her car didn't want to turn on.

Then came the devastating news from Archie. He announced to Agatha that he was in love with another woman named Nancy Neele and that he wanted a divorce.

After a short separation, Agatha in hopes of a trail reconciliation convinced her husband to move back with her. The plan failed badly.

Agatha describes it as a "mistake," that lead to "a period of sorrow, misery and heartbreak."

On December 3, 1926 the Christie's had an heated argument in which the husband left their home in Sunningdale, Berkshire to spend the weekend with his mistress in Godalming, Surrey.

Sometime at 9:45pm that evening Mrs. Christie left her home leaving her daughter sleeping in bed. She also leaves a note to her secretary saying that she was going to go to Yorkshire.

Agatha Christie's abandon car

The next day on December 4, a Morris Cowley car was found abandon in Newsland Corner near a lake. The police found inside the car an expired license driver that belonged to Agatha Christie. There was no sign of the missing 36 year old writer. Many feared the worst.

There was a public outcry following the news of Mrs Christie's disappearance. Soon after the news one of England's largest manhunt was underway. It was believed that thousands helped in the search. Included in the search were police, volunteers, some who even brought their blood hounds. Also planes helped combed the rural area in search for the author.

Then on December 14, 1926 a couple of musician recognized the author who had been staying at a very prestigious and luxurious spa hotel, the Swan Hydropathic Hotel in Harrogate, England. Mrs. Christie didn't used her name when she registered at the hotel. Oddly enough she registered as Mrs. Teresa Neele. Neele being her husband's mistress last name.

So what could have happened to this well-eloquent accomplished author? What could have caused her strange disappearance?

* Was it a plight from a desperate wife to have her husband back?
* Did she wanted to teach her husband a lesson?
* Was it a publicity stunt for her latest novel, "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd"?
* Could the author's recent loss and trauma caused her to have amnesia or dissociative fugue?
* Was she suffering from a nervous breakdown?
* Was she depressed to the point of ending her own life?
* Could it be that she was thinking of framing her husband and his mistress for her alleged death?

Like a page torn out from one of her novels Agatha Christie's own life had become itself a riveting mystery novel. Over the years there have been many theories and speculations around the case. Could we finally be able to crack this case? Here are the latest.

In 2000 John Ezard had the opportunity to interview Judith Gardner for The Guardian. Mrs. Gardner who was at that time 84 years of age, happened to be the daughter of Agatha Christie's friend Nan Watts.

As a child Mrs. Gardner learned the truth of what happened to the author when she had disappeared. Mrs. Gardner claimed that her mother had hid Mrs. Christie's at her home in Chelsea. Afterwards she was given money and sent on a train to Harrogate.

"She then just sat there in her hotel room, hiding away." She then added, "But she had signed the guests' register in the name Neele - the surname of her husband's lover. It was carefully orchestrated."

Both Mrs. Gardner and her husband, Graham, said, "She wanted Archie back."

Mrs. Gardner said, "She wanted to give him a shock. If she had had amnesia she would not have signed the register in the other woman's name. She was a highly intelligent woman."

"My mother helped her because she was distraught. I think she went to my mother because she had been through a divorce. [Mrs Christie] never did it for the publicity. That was the last thing she would have thought of. She was very upset and shocked - it all went rather wrong."

Author Jared Cade interviewed numerous witnesses and relatives for his sympathetic biography, Agatha Christie and the Eleven Missing Days, revised 2011. He provided substantial evidence to suggest she planned the event to embarrass her husband, never supposing the resulting escalated melodrama.

However Mrs.Christie's biographer Janet Morgan wasn't convinced about the author plot of trying to get her husband back. She said that Mrs. Christie's was "sick and bewildered," before and after her flight.

Interestingly enough Agatha Christie blamed her disappearance on her mind being in a"dream state."

"For 24 hours I wandered in a dream, and then found myself in Harrogate as a well-contented and perfectly happy woman who believed she had just come from South Africa."

Dr. Andrew Norman author of Agatha Christie The Finished Portrait reiterated what Mrs. Christie had commented.

"That her adoption of a new personality - she took the name Teresa Neele - and failure to recognize herself in newspaper photographs were signs that the novelist had fallen into a psychogenic amnesia after a period of depression."

"I believe she was suicidal." Then he added, "Her state of mind was very low and she writes about it later through the character of Celia in her autobiographical novel, Unfinished Portrait."

For more clues as to what happened to the author I encouraged you to watch the following 2013 film The Mystery of Agatha Christie, with actor David Suchet. Who is better known for his role as Hercule Poirot.

My personal thoughts:

Whatever the truth was, the only thing that I could say was that this was no doubt a very difficult time for Mrs. Christie. And that It was nice to see that she was able to move on and that she eventually did find love again!

Research: The Guardian, Wikipedia, All About Agatha Christie, The Line Up, Marriage About,  Video from Youtube.

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