True story behind Agatha Christie's 'The Mousetrap' to be published

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The Independent Culture

A non-fiction book based on the events that inspired Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap is due to be published by HarperCollins, announced The Bookseller on February 17. Written by Terence O'Neill, whose story and court testimony inspired Christie's play, Someone to Love Us will be published on March 4 (April 1 in Australia).

Terence O'Neill and his brother, Dennis, were taken to a foster home in 1945 on the Shropshire, England farm of Reginald and Esther Gough. The two suffered from beating and neglect, and later that year, Dennis died at the age of 12 from injuries he had sustained.

When he was ten years old, Terence O'Neill testified in the manslaughter case against his foster parents. The Goughs were given prison sentences, and the case made national and international headlines and led to the creation of provisions to protect children from neglect and cruelty.

The case also became the inspiration for Agatha Christie's radio play Three Blind Mice, which Christie later altered and developed into the full-length murder-mystery stage play The Moustrap. Known for its twist ending, The Mousetrap has been running continuously since 1957, the longest initial run of any play in history.

Now in his 70s, Terence O'Neill posted his writings about the events on HarperCollins's Authonomy website for unpublished authors, where it was found by editors. According to HaperCollins, O'Neill now lives with his family in South Wales.