The Agatha Christie Mystery


Feb 16, 2015 by Alex

With more than 80 titles to her name, and upwards of two billion copies sold, Agatha Christie is the most popular novelist in the world and the third most popular writer of any type, after those of The Bible, and William Shakespeare.

Given that most of her novels are set in a cosy (if murderous), middle class English society of maiden aunts, country solicitors and genteel living, it is easy to imagine Christie's life as being one of tweeds and sensible shoes, dog walking and tea with the vicar. In fact, little could be further from the truth. Not only did Christie's first marriage collapse in a seething mass of drama, this was ultimately triggered by a disappearance that continues to inspire debate today.



In the late evening of the 3rd December 1926, Agatha Christie drove away from her Berkshire home. Behind her, she left her seven-year-old daughter – her only child – and her husband, Archibald Christie, to whom she had been married for 12 years.

In late 1926, the Christie marriage was in crisis. Archibald had a mistress, some say he wished to marry her and that he had told Agatha this. Agatha Christie, then in her mid thirties, was already highly successful and a household name. As Agatha drove away, nobody could have guessed that she would not be seen again for 11 days.


Major search

As the days passed with no word from the novelist, a massive police search was launched, with more than a thousand officers and many civilian volunteers searching for Agatha. For the first time in the UK, aeroplanes were used in a manhunt. Her car was found abandoned in the Surrey town of Guildford, but there were no signs of a crash – or of the driver.

There was much frenzied press speculation, with many newspapers speculating about Archibald Christie's role in the situation. The story made the front page of most UK papers and even the New York Times.

However, on the 14th December 1926 Agatha Christie was found alive and well in a hotel, in the very fashionable Yorkshire spa resort of Harrogate. Although she claimed to remember nothing, it turned out that she had booked in under the surname of her husband's mistress the day after leaving home, and that she had spent the intervening days eagerly joining in with the resort's parties and entertainment. When Archibald Christie came to collect her, she kept him waiting in the hotel lobby.

The Christies divorced in 1928, and Agatha later married again. She never explained her disappearance.



With Agatha Christie claiming to remember nothing, it has been left to others to explain events. Some say that, angered by her husband's adultery, she faked her own disappearance and consequently her amnesia – indeed she had created a character that did the same, a couple of years previously. Others suggest that she suffered a rare psychogenic amnesia.

Archibald Christie claimed that Agatha had crashed her car and suffered memory loss as a result – although when her abandoned car was found, there were no signs of a collision. The truth will probably never be known – but that probably adds to the air of mystery and intrigue that surrounds all things Agatha Christie.