- AGATHA CHRISTIE -
Welcome to some background on Jared Cade and his work on Agatha Christie. So, who is Jared Cade and what is his connection with Agatha Christie?
Jared Cade is a biographer, historian and researcher. His biography Agatha Christie and the Eleven Missing Days: The Revised and Expanded 2011 Edition has been a number one bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic and is currently optioned as a film by two Hollywood production companies. It was also the subject of a 2002 BBC television documentary. It holds the distinction of being the only biography to be officially endorsed by relatives from the famous crime writer's brother-in-law's side of the family.
If you’ve ever wondered what the reasons were behind Agatha Christie’s real-life disappearance for eleven days in December 1926, you can find out by reading Jared Cade’s biography of the famous crime writer, which was written with the co-operation of family, friends and people who were there and know what really happened.
Agatha Christie and the Eleven Missing Days was first published in 1998 and made into a television documentary in 2002. This newly expanded 2011 edition offers the discerning Christie fan a wealth of new information about the Queen of Crime’s life and works.
In December 1926 Agatha Christie disappeared in bizarre circumstances from her home in southern England. The discovery of the crime writer's abandoned car led to the biggest manhunt in British history for a missing person. Eleven days later she was found in a northern spa town claiming to be the victim of amnesia.
Until the publication of this book in 1998 none of her biographers had come up with conclusive evidence as to what Agatha Christie did within the first twenty-four hours after she disappeared or whether her memory loss was genuine. Although the newspaper headlines made her famous, the private anguish that surrounded the episode ensured that she made no reference to it in her memoirs.
Jared Cade’s riveting biography – on which a BBC television documentary has been based – provides the answers to the mystery, including Agatha Christie’s long forgotten explanation of the notorious episode, along with startling accounts by her surviving relatives that reveal for the first time why she staged the disappearance with the help of a co-conspirator and how it all went terribly wrong. His sympathetic investigation reveals the incidents that shaped her character and how the fall-out from the episode affected the rest of her life.
Lavishly illustrated with 48 photographs, many of them from private albums, this fully expanded 2011 edition draws on a newly discovered cache of family papers, diaries and letters, to which Jared Cade was given exclusive access, and reveals even more fascinating secrets about her life and works. Agatha Christie and the Eleven Missing Days is a must for all Christie devotees.
Jared Cade was born in 1962 and lives in London. A life-long fan of Agatha Christie, in 1993 he appeared on The 64,000 Dollar Question, correctly answering all questions on his specialist subject of Agatha Christie’s novels and winning what was then British television’s biggest cash prize of £6,400.
While researching his biography about Agatha Christie’s life he located several short stories she had written in the 1920s: ‘While the Light Lasts’, ‘Within a Wall’, ‘The House of Dreams’, ‘The Lonely God’ and ‘The Edge’. These stories had escaped detection by scholars for decades. In 1997 they were published for the first time in the collection While the Light Lasts. During this period Jared Cade traced copies of two missing and unpublished Agatha Christie plays: Chimneys and A Daughter’s a Daughter. Both plays have since been performed in Great Britain. He also acted as a research consultant in 1997 for the BBC documentary series Mysteries with Carol Vorderman which featured a segment on the writer’s disappearance.
Jared Cade was drawn to the subject of Agatha Christie’s disappearance because initially it appeared to be the one time in her cosy, genteel life when she faced considerable adversity. What lessons had she learned about herself? Eleven days after she went missing from her home in southern England she was identified in a luxurious hotel in a northern spa town reading newspaper accounts of the search for herself. Her husband, Colonel Archibald Christie, asked the police at the time to believe his wife was suffering from amnesia when she registered under the surname of his mistress, Nancy Neele.
It was a bizarre episode made more curious by the fact that Agatha Christie had not mentioned it in her autobiography. Just what exactly did she do in the first twenty-four hours after she disappeared and how did she reach the Harrogate Hydro after abandoning her car over two hundred miles away?
Jared Cade soon found that claims by all previous biographers and commentators that Agatha Christie never spoke of her disappearance during her lifetime were in error. He located her explanation of the episode in the obituary box on her life in the archives of the British library. In it was her extraordinary account of her eleven-day ordeal that had gone undisturbed for over seventy years.
Next Jared Cade obtained a driver and a vintage Morris Cowley car and restaged her journey from her home in Berkshire to Newlands Corner in Surrey, where her car was found abandoned, only to find that her journey could not possibly have occurred under the circumstances described by herself and latter-day theorists.
He diligently traced witnesses who were alive at the time of the disappearance, including family, police and civilians who had searched for her; he also spoke to her friends and other people who had come into contact with her, both professionally and personally, during her long and eventful life.
Jared Cade’s big break-through came when Air Commodore Dame Felicity Peake, founding director of the United Kingdom’s Women’s Royal Air Force, put him in touch with Judith and Graham Gardner, the daughter and son-in-law of Nan Watts. Nan’s brother Jimmy was married to Agatha Christie’s sister Madge, and following the couple’s wedding in 1902 Agatha and Nan became life-long friends. Judith was raised along-side Agatha’s daughter Rosalind and has known the crime writer’s family intimately all her life. Moreover, Judith’s uncle Humphrey Watts (Nan’s brother) was the father of Dame Felicity Peake.
There was no attempt at subterfuge when Jared Cade met Judith and Graham Gardner. They readily welcomed him into their home and gave him access to their memories, private family papers, and photograph albums, revealing the hitherto undisclosed secrets of Agatha Christie’s extraordinary life.
Agatha was devoted to Nan’s side of the family all her life; indeed, Nan’s ancestral home, Abney Hall, in Cheshire featured many times in Agatha’s murder mysteries, lightly disguised with a name change. The Secret of Chimneys (1925) was dedicated to Agatha’s and Nan’s nephew Jack Watts; Agatha’s sister Madge, who was married to Nan’s brother Jimmy, was the dedicatee of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926); The ABC Murders (1936), Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (1938) and After the Funeral (1953) were all dedicated to Nan’s brother Jimmy (Agatha’s brother-in-law); The Body in the Library (1942) was dedicated to Nan; and in her foreword to The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (1960) Agatha paid tribute to Nan’s mother and Judith’s grandmother, Anne Watts, who had always made Christmas such a special day for her and the rest of the family.
According to Judith Gardner, ‘When Jared Cade came to see us he was so well briefed on all of our family history we were astonished. He had been to Abney Hall and knew so much detail of our family. It was then that I decided with my husband Graham that I would break my silence about the disappearance and put the matter into perspective once and for all so that the mystery would be cleared up for her fans.’
Before the publication of Jared Cade’s biography, Judith and Graham Gardner read and liked it so much that they offered to publicly endorse it. ‘He gained our trust completely,’ says Judith Gardner. ‘He was so professional we told him everything about Agatha’s life and the disappearance. There was never a time when we wondered if we should because our mutual respect for him was so strong.’ Other members of Judith’s family have also been wonderfully helpful in contributing to Jared Cade’s research and supplying family photographs for inclusion in his book.
Agatha Christie and the Eleven Missing Days was first published in 1998 by Peter Owen Ltd and still holds the distinction of being the only biography to be officially endorsed by relatives from her brother-in-law’s side of the family. Jared Cade’s biography became the basis of a documentary for the BBC in 2002 featuring interviews with some of Agatha Christie’s surviving relatives. The revised edition was released in 2011.
Serena Films, in conjunction with Animus Films, have just renewed their option on Jared’s biography. They’ve worked with the like of Jeremy Irons of Brideshead Revisited fame, and who won the Oscar for Reversal of Fortune; Sharon Stone of Basic Instinct fame, and Sarah Jessica Parker of Sex in the City. All going well, the film on Jared’s biography should be released around 2015/6. Watch this space.
Clancy's comment: Thank you, Jared. very interesting indeed, and we will certainly watch this space.
Think about this!