What really happened concerning Agatha Christie’s disappearance in 1926?

· Literature, Popular culture

Agatha Miller was born in 1890 in Torquay, England. She was married in 1914 to Archibald (Archie) Christie, at the beginning of the First World War. She wrote her first book in 1916; it was called The Mysterious Affair at Styles. She had her only child in 1919. She wrote several more books between the years 1920, when her first book was actually published, and 1926, the year of her famous disappearance. In 1926, she wrote what is widely considered her masterpiece, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. It was in the same year that two tragedies occurred in her life. She lost her mother, with whom she was inordinately close (in fact, she was not with her mother when she died, but when her mother passed away, Agatha Christie felt that something had changed), and also her husband told her that he was in love with another woman.


From all of my reading on the subject, I think I have pieced together what happened next. Agatha wanted her husband to suffer the way she was, so she planned an act of revenge. She pushed her car over a cliff and made it appear as though she had been in a car accident. She then disappeared for 11 days and stayed during this time at the Harrogate Hotel, a luxury spa. Supposedly, she wanted the police to suspect that her husband had killed her. It is rather easy to believe given her occupation as a writer of crime stories. Obviously, her imagination naturally turned to such plots as a normal part of her everyday life.


Evidence shows that she planned her disappearance, because she sent two letters, one to her secretary and one to her brother-in-law, Colonel Campbell Christie. Therefore, she knew she was going to be away from home because she used the address of the hotel where she was eventually discovered. While in the hotel, she purchased a classifieds ad under the name of Teresa Neele, Neele being the name of her husband’s mistress. In the ad, Agatha Christie asked for information about her relatives.


I do not write this to judge Agatha Christie. She was obviously a genius, and as a result, her mind worked very differently from the norm. She was an extremely sensitive woman, and human beings are capable of anything when they are suffering on the level that she seems to have been.


Ostensibly, the reason why Archibald Christie wanted a divorce was because he had warned his wife not to lose her looks. Also, it seems like a given now that a woman cannot be more successful than her husband without problems developing in their marriage. She was a world-class talent, and we cannot and should not judge such phenomenons according to natural standards. There is a happy ending. She remarried in 1930. Well, actually it is a somewhat happy ending. She stayed married to the archaelogist Sir Max Mallowan until she died in 1976. However, during their marriage, supposedly beginning in the 1940s, her second husband also cheated on her with the woman he married after Agatha Christie’s death, Barbara Parker.


It seems as though men need women in certain categories in order to be happily married to them. Some people who have followed her life story have suggested that Max Mallowan married her for her money, but I do not think this is necessarily a bad thing. There still seems to have been genuine affection between them. Why is it worse to marry a woman for her money than it is to marry her for her looks? We all have different reasons to marry, and it is entirely possible that Agatha Christie suspected or knew this (he may have told her directly, for all we know!), and did not care because she welcomed his companionship. Over the twenty years after they were married, she became physically quite large, and perhaps this was her way of shutting that part of the world out. Romance had hurt her very deeply; perhaps she wanted friendship more than anything for the remainder of her life. I hope she is at peace now, whatever she is doing. I don’t know if they write murder mysteries in heaven, but if they do, she is probably still Number One. 


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  1. Jeaneene Nooney

    We may never know. Your explanation is plausible. She may have had other intentions that she changed as the event played out. I’m not insinuating that she was going to kill him. Just that without her confession, we are at a loss.

    • Jaclyn Holland-Strauss

      You are right; anything is possible, especially since she had a uniquely imaginative mind, and he obviously hurt her very deeply. Do you have a favourite Christie?

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