Authors create stories, worlds, characters...mysteries. They give us entertainment, draw us into another time or place, another reality. But sometimes authors are drawn into mysteries of their own.
Probably the most famous mystery surrounding an author was that of Agatha Christie, best-selling mystery novelist.
In 1926, Agatha Christie's husband, Archie, told her he was in love with another woman, one Nancy Neele. She had just lost her mother that year, and his betrayal hit her hard. One night, when Archie was staying with friends (or his mistress, depending upon who's telling the story), Agatha disappeared.
As far as the country knew, Agatha's car was discovered, abandoned, a short distance from a lake called Silent Pool, which she had used for inspiration in one of her stories. There was clothing in her car, her identification. She had left her secretary a note that she was going to Yorkshire. People started pointing the finger at Archie, accusing him of having killed her. Others thought perhaps she'd killed herself, as she was known to suffer from depression.
In reality, she had ditched her car and her things, and walked to the train station, heading to Harrogate circa London. She even bought herself a lovely new coat in London. She then checked herself into a spa.
During the eleven days she was missing, police searched the countryside. She was in the news. People at the spa she was staying at even asked if she was that famous missing writer, but she told them she wasn't. She'd checked in under the name Theresa Neele (notice the last name is the same as Archie's mistress's). She sent a letter to Archie's brother telling him she was going to Yorkshire for a rest, and she took out an ad in a paper saying she, Theresa Neele, was looking for her family, and that they could contact her at the spa.
Finally, police were notified and Archie showed up at the spa in Harrogate to collect Agatha. Doctors examined her and stated she had been in a fugue state. Archie announced to the press that she was suffering amnesia, and hadn't known who she really was.
Agatha Christie died in 1976, never having given the real story. Was she in a fugue state? Did she set it up so her husband would be accused of a murder he hadn't committed? Or did she simply need to get away?
Close behind Agatha Christie is Edgar Allan Poe, another mystery writer. The circumstances surrounding his death on October 7, 1849 are a mystery. He was found, delirious, on October 3 outside a bar, wearing someone else's clothing. This was after having last been seen September 28. His whereabouts during that time period have never been discovered.
It is claimed that he said the name "Reynolds" over and over throughout his delirium. During his stay in the hospital he swung back and forth between brief lucid moments and delirium and hallucinations, even slipping into a brief coma. He was never able to tell anyone where he had been or what had happened, and the true cause of death is unknown. He was listed as having died of congestion of the brain.
Many feel he died from alcohol withdrawal or alcohol poisoning. Experts say his symptoms don't fit this theory. Also, he had been alcohol-free for six months. The University of Maryland Medical Center released a report in 1996 claiming they felt he had died of rabies, and that his symptoms fit with this theory (University of Maryland Report). Another theory says he was a victim of cooping, where a victim is plied with liquor and forced to go to all the polling places to vote for a candidate who has paid for this treatment. However, there were no reports of an issue like a drunken man having issues at any polling place.
It would seem those missing days and the cause of his death will forever remain a mystery. Was it rabies? Cooping? Alcoholism? Or something more dire? And who was Reynolds?
What do you think happened to Poe? How about Agatha Christie? Know of any other real life author mysteries?
Come back tomorrow for an interview with author, j.a. kazimer! Thursday, author Stephen Tremp will be guest posting!
May you find your Muse.