A book by a former nurse leader on the unexplained murder of Florence Nightingale’s god-daughter, herself a nurse, is the inspiration for the plot of a new TV drama to be broadcast this weekend.
The programme, Agatha & The Truth of Murder, shows crime writer Agatha Christie trying to solve the real-life murder of Florence Nightingale Shore, a decorated World War One army nurse.
“In the research for my book, I uncovered a new suspect for the crime”
The TV adaptation starring Ruth Bradley as Agatha Christie, with Pippa Haywood and Tim McInnerny, will be aired on Channel 5 on Sunday at 9pm.
The drama will explore the potential suspects who could have been responsible for Ms Shore’s unexplained death in 1920.
Just months after her return to England from duty in the First World War, she was beaten to death on a train travelling on the Brighton line.
The murder was never solved, despite the involvement of Scotland Yard and a famous pathologist of the time, Sir Bernard Spilsbury.
The programme shows Agatha Christie teaming up with Mabel Rogers, a close friend of Florence Nightingale Shore and a fellow nurse, to try to solve the mystery during the writer’s famous 11-day disappearance in 1926.
The plot is based on a 2015 book on the case by Rosemary Cook, a nurse and former director of the Queen’s Nursing Institute.
Ms Cook came up with the idea after finding original coverage of the murder in the 1920 issue of Queen’s Nurse magazine in the institute’s archives.
She spent two years researching the crime and the investigation before publishing what is currently the only biography of Ms Shore.
Ms Cook said there is no evidence that Agatha Christie tried to solve the murder. “But it seems very likely that she knew about it,” she noted.
“The newspapers at the time dubbed the suspect ‘the man in the brown suit’ – and Christie later wrote a book with that title, about a murder on an underground train,” she added.
Ms Cook claimed that when researching for her book about the murder of Ms Shore, she “uncovered a new suspect for the crime”.
“[There was] a man called ‘John Smith’, who said he was standing on the platform and saw Florence in the carriage when the train stopped, and she was discovered,” she said.
“But it shouldn’t have been possible for him to know as many details as he did of the crime scene, unless he was actually in the carriage,” she highlighted.
Ms Cook said it will be “fascinating” to see what conclusions the programme draws about Mr Smith, as well as the other suspects.
She left the QNI in 2012 and is currently chief executive officer of the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine, based in York.
She is also a member of the Dringhouses Local History group and is now writing a history of the York Home for Nurses.
- The Nightingale Shore Murder was published by Matador in 2015
Florence Nightingale Shore