In 1926, mystery writer Agatha Christie disappeared for eleven days. He car was discovered in a ditch off the side of the road. While she was later found living in a hotel in Harrogate, England under a different name, the reasons behind her vanishing and odd reappearance were never made clear. In a new biography titled The Finished Portrait, author Andrew Norman posits that Christie was in a "fugue state," a bizarre mental condition similar to amnesia where one assumes a new identity. From The Observer:
Norman, a former doctor, believes the novelist was in a fugue state, or, more technically, a psychogenic trance, a rare, deluded condition brought on by trauma or depression, which may also have led the writer and actor Stephen Fry to travel to Bruges in 1995 without leaving word with his friends or family.
'This kind of fugue state, which is much better understood these days, fits the symptoms that Christie showed during her stay in Harrogate,' said Norman.
In his book, The Finished Portrait, Norman says that her adoption of a new personality – she took the name Teresa Neele – and failure to recognise herself in newspaper photographs were signs that the novelist had fallen into a psychogenic amnesia after a period of depression. 'I believe she was suicidal,' said Norman. 'Her state of mind was very low and she writes about it later through the character of Celia in her autobiographical novel, Unfinished Portrait.'