Historians have been debating for nearly 100 years as to exactly why Agatha Christie vanished during the height of her fame in 1926
Agatha Christie’s mysterious disappearance that sparked a nationwide police manhunt is to be brought to life in a TV drama that claims she went missing to solve a real-life murder.
Historians have been debating for nearly 100 years as to exactly why she vanished during the height of her fame in 1926, leaving her home in Sunningdale, Berkshire after kissing her seven year old daughter Rosalind goodbye.
She was found 11 days later after a search involving a thousand police officers, tracked down to a hotel in North Yorkshire – and claimed she couldn’t remember a thing.
A Channel 5 drama Agatha And The Truth of Murder explores a new theory in a plot that could have leapt out of the pages of one of her novels.
It tells the story of how six years previously nurse Florence Nightingale Shaw – the god daughter of nurse Florence Nightingale – died after being beaten to death on a train from London to Bexhill, East Sussex.
She was found barely conscious by three railway workers and died four days later.
But her murder was never solved, and the writer of the Channel 5 film believes her lesbian lover, Mabel Rogers, may have begged the world famous novelist for help in tracking down her killer.
Agatha Christie, left, and right, with her husband Archie in 1919. At the time of her disappearance, he had told her he wanted a divorce and revealed he was in love with another woman
Ruth Bradley, left, who plays Agatha Christie in the drama, and Pippa Haywood, right, who plays Mabel Rogers, who goes to the author for help in finding the killer of her lesbian lover Florence Nightingale Shaw
Writer Tom Dalton told The Sun: ‘I can’t believe we’re the first people to think that maybe she was solving a crime.
‘But which one? When we found out about Florence it was this tragic, unsolved case that jumped out as a very good answer to that question.’
He said that during the coverage of Florence’s murder, there was talk about a man in a brown suit who was seen on the train.
Christie had written a book a few years after the murder called The Man In The Brown Suit.
Mr Dalton added: ‘So there is this connection between the murder of Florence and Agatha Christie.
Christie’s disappearance made national newspaper headlines as 1,000 police were drafted in to help
‘It seemed to us very possible that she had picked up on the suspect in the case.
‘The title is so specific it seems reasonable to imagine at least that she had picked up on it. It’s a real connection.’
At the time of her disappearance Christie, who was 36, and famous for her Miss Marple and Poirot detective novels, was grieving for her mother.
Also her husband Colonel Archie Christie, a pilot in World War One had just announced he wanted a divorce because he was in love with a younger woman.
A huge manhunt was launched and her car was found abandoned between Dorking and Guildford in Surrey. Pictured: A newspaper clipping showing Christie, left, and her duahgter Rosalind, right
A huge manhunt was launched and her car was found abandoned between Dorking and Guildford in Surrey.
Even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of Sherlock Holmes, joined in with the search that made national newspaper headlines.
Some claimed she had drowned in a nearby pool, but her body was nowhere to be found.
She was finally found when a musician at a hotel in Harrogate called the police when she checked in with no luggage and used the name Teresa Neele – the name of the woman her husband was in love with.
Florence Nightingale Shaw (left) died after being beaten to death on a train from London to Bexhill, East Sussex. Her murder was never solved, and the writer of the Channel 5 film believes her lesbian lover, Mabel Rogers (right) enlisted Christie’s help to find her killer
The story was extensively covered in the media (above) amid fears she could have drowned in a pool or killed herself
Ruth Bradley, who plays Agatha in the TV drama, told The Sun: ‘She went missing, that’s a fact.
‘Nobody knew where she had been. She was found in Yorkshire but nobody knows why and she never told anybody.
‘This film looks at where she might have disappeared to.
‘It’s very cleverly interwoven with details we do know.’
Haywood, right, alongside Bradley, left, says the filmmakers may have ‘unwittingly stumbled upon’ what happened to the author when she vanished
A Channel 5 drama Agatha And The Truth of Murder explores a new theory in a plot that could have leapt out of the pages of one of her novels. Pictured: Agatha Christie in 1950 sitting at her desk at her home in Winterbrook House in Wallingford, Berkshire
Bodyguard actress Pippa Haywood, who plays Mabel in the drama, said: ‘Mabel was horrified that nobody was even charged over Florence’s murder.
‘The fictional twist of the drama is that she goes to Agatha to ask for her help, knowing her books and thinking she’d have the head to solve this personal crime.
‘The delight is bringing these two real-life events together to say ‘what if Mabel had invited Agatha to solve this mystery?’
‘Who knows? Maybe this is the truth which we’ve unwittingly stumbled upon.’
Christie, pictured in 1967, went on to divorce Archie in 1928, and married Max Mallowan in 1930. She was made a Dame in 1971 and died aged 85 in January 1976
Joan Hickson as Miss Marple, left, and David Suchet, who played Hercule Poirot in the ITV drama
Christie went on to divorce Archie in 1928, and married Max Mallowan in 1930.
She was made a Dame in 1971 and died aged 85 in January 1976. She has sold more than two billion books and her stage play The Mousetrap has run for a record 66 years.
Her characters Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot were turned into TV dramas starring Joan Hickson and David Suchet.
The rest of the case of the Channel 5 drama includes Tim McInnerny, Ralph Ineson from The Office and Inbetweener’s syat Blake Harrison.
Mr Dalton added: The idea that she went off to solve a murder is just as probable as the idea that she was suicidal.
‘I know which one interests me more.’