Chemmie Squier | Acting Fashion & Beauty Editor | Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Was \'Gone Girl\' Based On The IRL Disappearance Of Agatha Christie?

Was 'Gone Girl' Based On The IRL Disappearance Of Agatha Christie?

The Debrief: Turns out that Gone Girl bears quite a lot of similarities to the real-life disappearance of Agatha Christie.

It's been over three years since Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl was published, but our obsession with the story persists. Like how this disturbing real-life murder bears stark resemblances to the book and how we can all, to some extent, empathise with the idea of playing the 'cool girl'.  

Turns out, though, that Flynn may have taken inspiration from a different real life disappearance: that of crime novelist Agatha Christie. On Friday 3rd December, 1926, Christie (who would have been 125 years old yesterday) left her house around 9.45pm and drove her car to a nearby resevoir in Guildford, known as the 'Silent Pool', where she abandoned it with the lights on along with a bag of her clothes and an out-of-date driving license. What ensued was a man-hunt of huge proportions - bloodhounds, biplanes and people on foot (around 15,000, apparently) searched for Christie as people assumed the worst. 

11 days later she was found after before recognised in a hotel in Harrogate, where she had been staying since her disappearance. Christie had checked in under a different name - Mrs Teresa Neele -  the same surname as her husband's mistress, Nancy Neele.

According to the Guardian, two popular theories are that she was suffering from memory loss after a car crash (her husband publicly said she had been suffering from 'amnesia' when she was found and never spoke about it again), or that she planned the whole thing as 'punishment' for her unfaithful husband. Others think it was a publicity stunt.

Biographer, Andrew Normal, believes Christie was suffering from a mental condition called 'fugue state' which causes the individual to experience out-of-body amnesia and is brought on by stress, suggesting she was in a kind of 'trance' for those 11 days. This doesn't seem so far-fetched when you consider that her mother had died in the same year and her husband, Archie, planned to leave her for Nancy.

Although it's hard to say how inspired Flynn was by Christie's story, it's difficult to ignore the similarites between the two, especially when Flynn has previously described Christie as the crime novelist she 'most admires'. Here's how they measure up...

*WARNING: spoilers*

They're both in the literary world

Christie, as we know, was a crime novelist and had just published her sixth novel (The Murder of Roger Ackroyd) when she disappeared. Amy Dunn, on the other hand, was the inspiration for her parent's Amazing Amy series, much to her chagrin. Plus, before she went missing, Amy consumed multiple crime novels to try and make her disappearance as realistic as possible.

The cheating husband

Apparently Christie's husband, Archie, had asked for a divorce so he could marry his mistress, Nancy. Nick Dunn, we know, was having an affair with Andie, his 23 year old student and planned to leave Amy.

They left clues

Amy left intricate clues that pointed to her husband's involvement in her presumed murder, such as her diary and the treasure hunt. Christie did a similar thing: before her disappearance she sent a letter to her brother-in-law saying she was going on holiday, another to a police constable saying she feared for her life, and one for her husband which he apparently burned before the police could read it. She even contacted the London Times informing them that relatives of Mrs Teresa Neele (the name she was staying under) could contact her at the hotel.

The husband became a suspect

Suspicion fell on both Christie and Amy's husbands after they went missing because of the strange circumstances surrounding their disappearances. 

They got a lot of press

The disappearance of Agatha Christie was national news; even the home secretary at the time put pressure on the police to up the ante and find her and she was on the front page of The New York Times. Similarly, Amy's disappearance got huge coverage by the press as people struggled to figure out what had really happened to her. 

Like this? Then you might also be interested in:

Here's The Real, Chilling Story Gone Girl Was Based On

'I Tried Being The Cool Girl Once And It Almost Wrecked My Life'

Here's What The Actual 'New Gone Girl' Books Are

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Tags: books