That was the headline 85 years ago.
On December 3, 1926, Agatha Christie disappeared from home in Berkshire, England. As the story goes, her husband had asked for a divorce and admitted to falling in love with another woman. Already distraught over the recent death of her mother, hearing this news proved to be devastating enough to send her packing. But not before writing several confusing and mysterious letters, including one to her husband. A letter to her brother-in-law stated she was going for a vacation in Yorkshire and another to the local chief constable said she feared for her life. When her car was found abandoned the next day, there was uproar in the press and thousands of volunteers searched the countryside.
When Christie was finally discovered at a spa in Harrogate she claimed to have been suffering from temporary amnesia. She had been missing for eleven days! To this day there is still speculation about her disappearance as well as her explanation. It’s been said that Christie checked into the hotel under the surname of her husbands’ lover. Was that done intentionally to get back at her husband or is it further evidence that she had lost her memory as she claimed? Many speculated that she had a nervous breakdown and needed to escape into seclusion. Others questioned if the whole thing was a publicity stunt for more sales. But by the time she vanished, Agatha Christie had published more than ten novels and short stories, each more successful than the last.
Though the press was left angered and with unanswered questions, Agatha Christie never again would speak of the incident. I can’t help but wonder what the consequences would be today if the same situation had occurred. All the money and manpower that went on for days searching for Christie would not simply be let go. These days people want accountability no matter who you are. I’d like to believe the nervous breakdown theory myself. Christie’s daughter was around seven-years-old at the time and I can’t see any mother (in her right mind) willingly take off from her child in that way for that long.
If you’re interested in reading more about Agatha Christie and the details surrounding her disappearance, there are several interesting websites. Here are a few:
You can even purchase the NY times article that was published when she was found http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F60C17FE3C591B7A93C7A81789D95F428285F9&scp=4&sq=Agatha%20Christie%20Disappearance&st=cse