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Jack the Ripper was a pseudonym given to an unidentified serial killer active in the largely impoverished districts in and around Whitechapelmarker, Londonmarker, in late 1888. The name originated in a letter by someone claiming to be the murderer that was sent to the London Central News Agency and disseminated in the media. The letter is widely considered to be a hoax, and may have been written by a journalist in a deliberate attempt to heighten interest in the story.

Attacks ascribed to the Ripper typically involve women prostitutes whose throats were cut prior to abdominal mutilations. The removal of internal organs from at least three of the victims led to proposals that the killer possessed anatomical or surgical knowledge. Rumours that the murders were connected intensified in September and October 1888, and media outlets and Scotland Yardmarker received a series of extremely disturbing letters from a writer or writers purporting to take responsibility for some or all of the murders. One letter, received by George Lusk, of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, included half a preserved human kidney, supposedly from one of the victims. Newspapers, whose circulation had been growing, bestowed widespread and enduring international notoriety on the killer. Mainly because of the extraordinarily brutal character of the murders, and because of media treatment of the events, the public came increasingly to believe in a single serial killer terrorising the residents of Whitechapel. Though the murders most often attributed to the Ripper occurred in the latter half of 1888, a longer series of brutal killings in Whitechapel persisted at least until 1891. Although the investigation was unable to connect the later killings conclusively to the murders of 1888, the legend of Jack the Ripper solidified.

Because the killer's identity was never confirmed, the legends surrounding the murders have become a combination of genuine historical research, folklore, and pseudohistory. The term Ripperologist was coined to describe professionals and amateurs who study and analyze the case. There are over one hundred theories about the identity of the killer, and the murders have inspired multiple works of fiction.


In the mid 19th century, Englandmarker experienced a rapid influx of Irish immigrants, who swelled the populations of England's major cities. Many settled in the East End of Londonmarker. From 1882, they were joined by Jewish refugees who had fled economic hardship and pogroms in eastern Europe and Tsarist Russiamarker. The East End and the civil parish of Whitechapelmarker became increasingly overcrowded. Work and housing conditions worsened, and a massive economic underclass developed. Robbery and violence was commonplace, and the endemic poverty drove many women to prostitution. In October 1888, the London Metropolitan Police estimated that there were 1,200 prostitutes resident in Whitechapel and about 62 brothels. The economic problems were accompanied by a steady rise in social tensions. In 1886–89, the hungry and unemployed demonstrated frequently, which led to police interventions and public unrest, such as Bloody Sunday . Racism, social disturbance, and real deprivation fed public perceptions that Whitechapel was a notorious den of criminality. In 1888, such perceptions were strengthened when a series of vicious and grotesque murders attributed to "Jack the Ripper" received unprecedented coverage in the media.


Eleven separate murders, stretching from 3 April 1888 to 13 February 1891, were included in a London Metropolitan Police Service investigation, and were known in the police docket as the "Whitechapel murders". Opinions vary as to whether these murders should be linked to the same culprit or not. The large number of horrific attacks against women during this era adds some uncertainty as to exactly how many victims were killed by the same man. Most experts point to deep throat slashes, abdominal and genital-area mutilation, removal of internal organs, and progressive facial mutilations as the distinctive features of Jack the Ripper's modus operandi. Five cases, collectively called the "canonical five", are generally agreed upon as the work of the Ripper.

The first two cases in the file are non-canonical and are:
  • Emma Elizabeth Smith, who was robbed and sexually assaulted on Osborn Streetmarker, Whitechapel, on 3 April 1888. A blunt object was inserted into her vagina, which ruptured her peritoneum. She developed peritonitis, and died the following day at London Hospitalmarker. She said that she had been attacked by two or three men, one of whom was a teenager. Though this attack was linked to the later murders by the press, it was almost certainly gang violence unrelated to the Ripper.
  • Martha Tabram, who was killed on 7 August 1888. She had 39 stab wounds. The savagery of Tabram's murder, the lack of obvious motive, and the closeness of the location (George Yard, Whitechapel) and date to those of the later Ripper murders led police to link them. However, the attack differs from the canonical ones in that Tabram was stabbed rather than slashed at the throat and abdomen. Most experts today do not connect it with the later murders because of the difference in the wound pattern.

Canonical five

The "canonical five" Ripper victims are:
  • Mary Ann Nichols was killed on Friday 31 August 1888. Her body was discovered at about 3:40 a.m. in Buck's Rowmarker (now Durward Streetmarker), Whitechapel. Her throat was severed deeply by two cuts; the lower part of the abdomen was partly ripped open by a deep, jagged wound. Several other incisions on her abdomen were caused by the same knife.
  • Annie Chapman was killed on Saturday 8 September 1888. Her body was discovered at about 6 a.m. near a doorway in the back yard of 29 Hanbury Streetmarker, Spitalfieldsmarker. Like Mary Ann Nichols's, her throat was severed by two cuts. Her abdomen was slashed entirely open, and it was later discovered that the uterus had been removed. At the inquest, one witness described seeing Chapman with a dark-haired man of "shabby-genteel" appearance at about 5:30 a.m.
  • Elizabeth Stride was killed on Sunday 30 September 1888. Her body was discovered at about 1 a.m., in Dutfield's Yard, off Berner Street (now Henriques Streetmarker) in Whitechapel. There was one clear-cut incision on the neck; the cause of death was massive blood loss from the nearly severed main artery on the left side. Some uncertainty about the identity of Stride's murderer, along with the suggestion her killer was interrupted during the attack, stem from the absence of mutilations to the abdomen. Witnesses who may have seen Stride with a man earlier that night gave differing descriptions: some said her companion was fair, others dark; some said he was shabbily-dressed, others well-dressed.
  • Catherine Eddowes was, like Stride, killed on Sunday 30 September 1888. Her body was found in Mitre Squaremarker, in the City of Londonmarker, three-quarters of an hour after Stride's. The throat was severed by two cuts, and the abdomen was ripped open by a long, deep, jagged wound. The left kidney and the major part of the uterus had been removed. A local man, Joseph Lawende, had passed through the square shortly before the murder with two friends, and he described seeing a fair-haired man of shabby appearance with a woman who may have been Eddowes. His companions, however, were unable to confirm his description. Eddowes' and Stride's murders were later called the "double event". Part of Eddowes' bloodied apron was found at the entrance to a tenement in Goulston Street, Whitechapel. Some writing on the wall above the apron piece, which became known as the Goulston Street graffito, seemed to implicate a Jew or Jews, but it was unclear whether the graffito was written by the murderer as he dropped the apron piece, or merely incidental. Police Commissioner Charles Warren feared the graffito might spark anti-Semitic riots, and ordered it washed away before dawn.
Official police photograph of Mary Kelly's murder scene in 13 Miller's Court.
  • Mary Jane Kelly was killed on Friday 9 November 1888. Her gruesomely mutilated body was discovered shortly after 10:45 a.m., lying on the bed in the single room where she lived at 13 Miller's Court, off Dorset Street, Spitalfieldsmarker. Her throat had been severed down to the spine, and her abdomen virtually emptied of its organs. Her heart was missing.

The authority of this list rests on a number of authors' opinions, but historically the idea has been based upon the 1894 notes of Sir Melville Macnaghten, Assistant Chief Constable of the Metropolitan Police Service and Head of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), which state that "the Whitechapel murderer had 5 victims—& 5 victims only". Macnaghten did not join the force until the year after the murders; and his memorandum, which came to light in 1959, contains serious factual errors about possible suspects. There is considerable disagreement about the value of Macnaghten's assessment of the number of victims. Some researchers have posited that the series may not have been the work of a single murderer, but of an unknown larger number of killers acting independently. Authors Stewart P. Evans and Donald Rumbelow argue that the "canonical five" is a "Ripper myth" and that while three (Nichols, Chapman, and Eddowes) can be definitely linked, there is less certainty over Stride and Kelly. The "canonical five" victims were also linked together in a letter written by the police surgeon Thomas Bond to Robert Anderson, head of the London CID, on 10 November 1888, and were evidently treated by the police as a single case. However, Dr Percy Clark, assistant to the examining pathologist George Bagster Phillips, linked only three of the murders and thought the others were perpetrated by "weak-minded individual[s] ... induced to emulate the crime".

The "canonical five" murders were perpetrated at night, on or close to a weekend, and either at the end of a month or a week or so after. Except Stride, whose attack may have been interrupted, the mutilations became increasingly severe as the series of murders proceeded. Nichols was not missing any organs; Chapman's uterus was taken; Eddowes had her uterus and a kidney removed and her face mutilated; Kelly's body was eviscerated and her face hacked away, though only her heart was missing from the crime scene.

Later Whitechapel murders

Kelly is generally considered to be the Ripper's final victim, and it is assumed that the crimes ended because of the culprit's death, imprisonment, institutionalisation, or emigration. The Whitechapel murders file does, however, detail another four murders that happened after the canonical five:
  • Rose Mylett was reportedly strangled "by a cord drawn tightly round the neck" on 20 December 1888, though Robert Anderson believed that she had accidentally suffocated herself on the collar of her dress while in a drunken stupor. Her body was found in Clarke's Yard, High Street, Poplarmarker.
  • Alice McKenzie was killed on 17 July 1889 by severance of the left carotid artery. Several minor bruises and cuts were found on the body, discovered in Castle Alley, Whitechapel. One of the examining pathologists, Thomas Bond, believed this to be a Ripper murder, though another pathologist, Dr. Phillips, who had examined the bodies of three previous victims, disagreed. Later writers are also divided between those who think that her murderer copied the Ripper's modus operandi to deflect suspicion from himself, and those that ascribe it to the Ripper.
  • "The Pinchin Street Torso" was a headless and legless torso of an unidentified woman found under a railway arch in Pinchin Street, Whitechapel, on 10 September 1889. It seems probable that the murder was committed elsewhere and that parts of the dismembered body were dumped at the crime scene.
  • Frances Coles was killed on 13 February 1891 under a railway arch at Swallow Gardens, Whitechapel. Minor wounds on the back of her head suggest that she was thrown violently to the ground before her throat was cut. Otherwise the body was unmutilated. A man named James Thomas Sadler, seen earlier with her, was arrested by the police and charged with her murder and was briefly thought to be the Ripper himself. However he was discharged from court due to lack of evidence on 3 March 1891.

Other alleged victims

In addition to the eleven murders officially investigated by the Metropolitan Police as part of the Ripper investigation, various Ripper historians have at times suggested a number of other contemporary attacks as possibly connected to the same serial killer. In some cases, it is unclear if the murders even occurred or if the stories were fabricated later as a part of Ripper lore.

  • "Fairy Fay", a nickname for an unknown murder victim allegedly found on 26 December 1887 with "a stake thrust through her abdomen". It has been suggested that "Fairy Fay" was a creation of the press based upon confusion of the details of the murder of Emma Elizabeth Smith with a separate non-fatal attack the previous Christmas. The name of "Fairy Fay" was first used for this alleged victim in 1950. There were no recorded murders in Whitechapel at or around Christmas 1887, and later newspaper reports that included a Christmas 1887 killing conspicuously did not list the Smith murder. Most authors agree that "Fairy Fay" never existed.

  • Annie Millwood (born c. 1850) was reportedly admitted to hospital with "numerous stabs in the legs and lower part of the body" on 25 February 1888. She was discharged but died from apparently natural causes on 31 March 1888.

  • Ada Wilson was reportedly stabbed twice in the neck on 28 March 1888. She survived.
  • "The Whitehall Mystery", a term coined for the headless torso of a woman found on 2 October 1888 in the basement of the new Metropolitan Police headquartersmarker being built in Whitehallmarker. An arm belonging to the body was previously discovered floating in the river Thames near Pimlicomarker, and one of the legs was subsequently discovered buried near where the torso was found.Evans and Rumblelow, pp. 142–144 The other limbs and head were never recovered and the body was never identified. The mutilations were similar to those in the Pinchin Street case, though in that case the hands were not severed. "The Whitehall Mystery" and "The Pinchin Streets Murderer" have been suggested to be part of a series of murders, called the "Thames Mysteries" or "Embankment Murders", committed by a single serial killer, dubbed the "Torso Killer". Whether Jack the Ripper and the "Torso Killer" were the same person or separate serial killers active in the same area has long been debated. As the modus operandi of the torso killings differs from that of the Ripper, police at the time discounted any connection between the two.

  • Annie Farmer (born c. 1848) reported an attack on 21 November 1888. She had a superficial cut on her throat, possibly self-inflicted. A Jewish cigar-maker, Joseph Isaacs, was arrested on suspicion of the attack and of being the Ripper, but he was not connected to the crimes.

  • Elizabeth Jackson, a prostitute whose various body parts were collected from the river Thames between 31 May and 25 June 1889, was reportedly identified by scars she had had prior to her disappearance and apparent murder.

  • Carrie Brown (nicknamed "Shakespeare", reportedly for quoting Shakespeare's sonnets) was strangled with clothing and then mutilated with a knife on 24 April 1891 in Manhattanmarker. Her body was found with a large tear through her groin area and superficial cuts on her legs and back. No organs were removed from the scene, though an ovary, either purposely removed or unintentionally dislodged, was found upon the bed. At the time, the murder was compared to those in Whitechapel though the Metropolitan Police eventually ruled out any connection.


The surviving Whitechapel murders police files allow a detailed view of investigative procedure in the Victorian era. A large team of policemen conducted house-to-house inquiries throughout Whitechapel. Lists of suspects were drawn up and many were interviewed. Forensic material was collected and examined. A close reading of the investigation shows a basic process of identifying suspects, tracing them and deciding whether to examine them more closely or to cross them off the list. This is still the pattern of a major inquiry today. Over 2000 people were interviewed, "upwards of 300" people were investigated, and 80 people were detained.
The investigation was initially conducted by the Metropolitan Police Whitechapel (H) Division Criminal Investigation Department (CID) headed by Detective Inspector Edmund Reid. After the Nichols murder, Detective Inspectors Frederick Abberline, Henry Moore, and Walter Andrews were sent from Central Office at Scotland Yardmarker to assist. After the Eddowes murder, which occurred within the City of Londonmarker, the City Police under Detective Inspector James McWilliam were involved. However, overall direction of the murder enquiries was confused and hampered by the fact that the newly appointed head of the CID, Robert Anderson, was on leave in Switzerlandmarker between 7 September and 15 October, during which time Chapman, Stride and Eddowes were killed. This prompted the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Charles Warren, to appoint Chief Inspector Donald Swanson to coordinate the enquiry from Scotland Yard.

Due in part to dissatisfaction with the police effort, a group of volunteer citizens in London's East Endmarker called the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee also patrolled the streets looking for suspicious characters, petitioned the government to raise a reward for information about the killer, and hired private detectives to question witnesses separate from the police. The committee was led by George Lusk in 1888.

Criminal profiling

After the acquittal of Daniel M'Naghten in 1843, and the establishment of the M'Naghten rules, physicians became increasingly involved in determining whether defendants in murder cases were suffering from 'mental illness'. And the growing importance of the medical sciences during the same period also led to an increasing involvement by pathologists in the investigative process. Their work further encompassed the treating of the perpetrators of crimes who were regarded as mad rather than bad; it is therefore not surprising that by the 1880s, medical officers thought it appropriate to offer opinions about the characteristics of an offender; the earliest of such opinions for which a copy still exists is that offered by the police surgeon Thomas Bond, in November 1888, to Robert Anderson, head of the London CID, concerning the character of the "Whitechapel murderer". At the end of October, Anderson asked Bond to give his opinion on the extent of the murderer's surgical skill and knowledge. Bond based his assessment on his own examination of the most extensively mutilated victim and the post mortem notes from the four previous canonical murders.

Dr. Bond was strongly opposed to the idea that the murderer would possess any kind of scientific or anatomical knowledge, or even "the technical knowledge of a butcher or horse slaughterer". In Bond's opinion he must have been a man of solitary habits, subject to "periodical attacks of homicidal and erotic mania". The character of the mutilations possibly indicating "satyriasis". Dr. Bond also stated that "the homicidal impulse may have developed from a revengeful or brooding condition of the mind, or that religious mania may have been the original disease but I do not think either hypothesis is likely". According to investigative psychologist David Canter, Dr. Bond's proposals would probably be accepted as thoughtful and intelligent by police forces today, but crime historians Stewart Evans and Don Rumbelow thought Bond's hypotheses were insupportable supposition.

Some commentators at the time, including Queen Victoria, thought the pattern of the murders indicated that the culprit was a butcher or cattle drover on one of the cattle boats that plied between London and mainland Europe. Usually such boats docked on Thursday or Friday, and departed on Saturday or Sunday, and Whitechapel was close to the London Docksmarker. A surviving note from Major Henry Smith, Acting Commissioner of the City of London Police, indicates that the alibis of local butchers and slaughterers were investigated, with the result that they were eliminated from the enquiry. A report from Inspector Donald Swanson to the Home Office confirms that 76 butchers and slaughterers were visited, and that the enquiry encompassed all their employees for the last six months.


Over the course of the Ripper murders, the police, newspapers and others received many hundreds of letters regarding the case. Some were well-intentioned offers of advice for catching the killer. The vast majority were deemed useless and subsequently ignored.

Hundreds of letters claimed to have been written by the killer himself. Nearly all such letters were and are considered hoaxes, and many experts contend that none of them are genuine, but of the ones cited as perhaps genuine by either period or modern authorities, three in particular are prominent:
  • The "Dear Boss" letter, dated 25 September, postmarked and received 27 September 1888, by the Central News Agency, was forwarded to Scotland Yardmarker on 29 September. Initially it was considered a hoax, but when Eddowes was found three days after the letter's postmark with one ear partially cut off, the letter's promise to "clip the ladys (sic) ears off" gained attention. However, Eddowes' ear appears to have been nicked by the killer incidentally during his attack, and the letter writer's threat to send the ears to the police was never carried out. The name "Jack the Ripper" was first used in this letter by the signatory and gained worldwide notoriety after its publication. Most of the letters that followed copied this letter's tone.
The "From Hell" letter
  • The "Saucy Jacky" postcard, postmarked and received 1 October 1888, by the Central News Agency, had handwriting similar to the "Dear Boss" letter. It mentions that two victims were killed very close to one another: "double event this time", which was supposed to refer to the murders of Stride and Eddowes. It has been argued that the letter was mailed before the murders were publicised, making it unlikely that a crank would have such knowledge of the crime, but it was postmarked more than 24 hours after the killings took place, long after details were known by journalists and residents of the area.
  • The "From Hell" letter, also known as the "Lusk letter", postmarked 15 October and received by George Lusk of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee on 16 October 1888. The letter came with a small box in which Lusk discovered half a human kidney, later said by a doctor to have been preserved in "spirits of wine" (ethanol). One of Eddowes' kidneys had been removed by the killer. The writer claimed that he "fried and ate" the missing kidney half. The handwriting and style is unlike that of the "Dear Boss" letter and postcard. There is disagreement over the kidney: some contend it belonged to Eddowes, while others argue it was nothing more than a macabre practical joke.

Scotland Yard published facsimiles of the "Dear Boss" letter and the postcard on 3 October, hoping someone would recognise the handwriting, but nothing useful came of this effort. In a letter to Godfrey Lushington, Permanent Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Charles Warren explained "I think the whole thing a hoax but of course we are bound to try & ascertain the writer in any case." On 7 October 1888, George R. Sims in the Sunday newspaper Referee implied scathingly that the letter was written by a journalist "to hurl the circulation of a newspaper sky high". Police officials later claimed to have identified a specific journalist as the author of both the "Dear Boss" letter and the postcard. The journalist is identified as Tom Bullen in a letter from Chief Inspector John George Littlechild to George R. Sims dated 23 September 1913, and a journalist called Fred Best reportedly confessed in 1931 that he'd written the letters to "keep the business alive".

Dr Thomas Openshaw was frequently mentioned in press reports at the time in connection with the kidney and "From Hell" letter sent to George Lusk. On 29 October 1888 he received a letter through the post addressed to 'Dr Openshaw, Pathological curator, London Hospitalmarker, Whitechapel' and signed Jack the Ripper. This letter has become known as the Openshaw Letter.

Some sources list another letter, dated 17 September 1888, as the first message to use the Jack the Ripper name. Most experts believe this was a modern fake inserted into police records in the 20th century, long after the killings took place. They note that the letter has neither an official police stamp verifying the date it was received nor the initials of the investigator who would have examined it if it were ever considered as potential evidence. It is also not mentioned in any surviving police document of the time.

DNA analysis on extant letters is inconclusive. The available material has been handled many times and is too contaminated to provide meaningful results.


Newspaper broadsheet referring to the killer as "Leather Apron", September 1888.
After the murder of Nichols in early September, the Manchester Guardian reported that: "Whatever information may be in the possession of the police they deem it necessary to keep secret ... It is believed their attention is particularly directed to ... a notorious character known as 'Leather Apron'." Imaginative descriptions of "Leather Apron" appeared in the press. Rival journalists thought that their competitors' descriptions of "Leather Apron" were "a mythical outgrowth of the reporter's fancy". John Pizer, a local Jew who made footwear from leather, was known as "Leather Apron". He was arrested even though the investigating inspector reported that "at present there is no evidence whatsoever against him". He was soon released after the confirmation of his alibis. After the publication of the "Dear Boss" letter, "Jack the Ripper" supplanted "Leather Apron" as the name adopted by the press and public to describe the killer. The name "Jack" was already used to describe another fabled London attacker: "Spring-Heeled Jack", who supposedly leapt over walls to strike at his victims and escape as quickly as he came. The invention and adoption of a nickname for a particular killer became standard media practice with examples such as the Axeman of New Orleans, the Boston Strangler, and the Beltway Sniper. Examples derived from Jack the Ripper include the French Ripper, the Düsseldorf Ripper, the Camden Ripper, Jack the Stripper, the Yorkshire Ripper, and the Rostov Ripper.

The Ripper murders mark an important watershed in the treatment of crime by journalists. While not the first serial killer, Jack the Ripper's case was the first to create a worldwide media frenzy. Tax reforms in the 1850s had enabled the publication of inexpensive newspapers with wider circulation. These mushroomed later in the Victorian era to include mass-circulation newspapers as cheap as a halfpenny, along with popular magazines such as the Illustrated Police News, making the Ripper the beneficiary of previously unparalleled publicity. Journalists were frustrated by the unwillingness of the CID to reveal details of their investigation to the public, and so resorted to writing reports of questionable veracity. Their sensational reports, combined with the fact that no one was ever convicted, has confused scholarly analysis of the murders, and created a legend that cast a shadow over later serial killers.


The concentration of the killings at the weekend and within a few streets of each other has indicated to many that the murderer was employed during the week and lived locally. Butchers, slaughterers, surgeons and physicians were suspected because of the manner of the mutilations. Others thought the killer was an educated upper-class man, or "toff", who ventured into Whitechapel from a more well-to-do area. Such notions draw on cultural perceptions such as fear of the medical profession, distrust of modern science or the exploitation of the poor by the rich. Stephen Knight promoted an elaborate Masonic conspiracy theory in his book Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution, that many authors dismiss as a fantasy. Researchers draw parallels with the motives and actions of modern-day serial killers, and suggest that the Ripper could have been a deranged schizophrenic, like the "Yorkshire Ripper" Peter Sutcliffe, who heard voices instructing him to attack prostitutes. Despite the many and varied theories about the identity and profession of Jack the Ripper, authorities are not agreed on a single solution and the number of named suspects reaches over one hundred.


The poor of the East End had long been ignored by affluent society, but the nature of the murders and of the victims drew attention to their living conditions. The murders galvanised opinion against the overcrowded, insanitary slums of the East End, and led to demands for reform. Acts of Parliament, such as the Housing of the Working Classes Act 1890 and the Public Health Amendment Act 1890, set minimum standards for accommodation in an effort to transform degenerated urban areas. In the two decades after the Whitechapel murders, the worst of the slums were cleared.

Jack the Ripper features in hundreds of works of fiction and non-fiction and works which straddle the boundaries between both fact and fiction, shading into legend. These latter include the Ripper letters, a hoax Diary of Jack the Ripper and specimens of poetry alleged to be from the Ripper's own hand. The Ripper appears in novels, short stories, poetry, comic books, video games, songs, plays, films, and the 1930s opera Lulu by Alban Berg.

To date more than 200 non-fiction works deal exclusively with the Jack the Ripper murders, making it one of the most written-about true-crime subjects of the past century. Six periodicals about Jack the Ripper have been introduced since the early 1990s: Ripperana (1992–present), Ripperologist (1994–present, electronic format only since 2005), the Whitechapel Journal (1997–2000), Ripper Notes (1999–present), Ripperoo (2000–2003), and the The Whitechapel Society 1888 Journal (2005–present).

In the immediate aftermath of the murders, and later, "Jack the Ripper became the children's bogey man." Depictions were often phantasmic or monstrous. In the 1920s and 1930s, he was depicted in film dressed in everyday clothes as a man with a hidden secret preying on his unsuspecting victims. Atmosphere and evil were suggested through lighting effects and shadowplay. By the 1960s, the Ripper had become "the symbol of a predatory aristocracy", and was portrayed in a top hat dressed as a gentleman. The Establishment as a whole became the villain with the Ripper acting as a manifestation of upper-class exploitation. The image of the Ripper merged or borrowed symbols from horror stories, such as Dracula's cloak or Victor Frankenstein's organ harvest. The fictional world of the Ripper can fuse with multiple genres, ranging from Sherlock Holmes to Japanese erotic horror.

The legend of the Ripper is still promoted in the East End of London with many guided tours of the murder sites. The Ten Bellsmarker, a pub in Commercial Streetmarker that was frequented by the victims, was the focus of such tours for many years. It was renamed "Jack the Ripper" in the 1960s, but returned to its old name in the 1980s. Unlike murderers of lesser fame, there is no waxwork figure of Jack the Ripper at Madame Tussaudsmarker' Chamber of Horrors, in accordance with their policy of not modelling persons whose likeness is unknown. In 2006, Jack the Ripper was selected by the BBC History Magazine and its readers as the worst Briton in history.

See also


  1. Curtis, L. Perry, Jr. (2001). Jack the Ripper and the London Press. Yale University Press. ISBN 0300088728
  2. Odell, Robin (2006). Ripperology. Kent State University Press. ISBN 0873388615
  3. Evans, Stewart P. (April 2003). "Ripperology, A Term Coined By...", Ripper Notes, retrieved 1 May 2009
  4. Kershen, Anne J., "The Immigrant Community of Whitechapel at the Time of the Jack the Ripper Murders", in Werner, pp. 65–97; Vaughan, Laura, "Mapping the East End Labyrinth", in Werner, p. 225
  5. Life and Labour of the People in London (London: Macmillan, 1902–1903) (The Charles Booth on-line archive) accessed 5 August 2008
  6. Evans and Skinner, Jack the Ripper: Letters from Hell, p. 1; Rumbelow, p. 12
  7. Begg, Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History, pp. 131–149; Evans and Rumbelow, pp. 38–42; Rumbelow, pp.21–22
  8. Marriott, John, "The Imaginative Geography of the Whitechapel murders", Werner, pp. 31–63
  9. "The Enduring Mystery of Jack the Ripper", Metropolitan Police, retrieved 1 May 2009
  10. Begg, Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History, pp. 27–28; Evans and Rumbelow, pp. 47–50; Evans and Skinner, The Ultimate Jack the Ripper Sourcebook, pp. 4–7
  11. Begg, Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History, p. 28
  12. e.g. The Star, 8 September 1888, quoted in Begg, Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History, pp. 155–156
  13. Evans and Rumbelow, p. 49
  14. Evans and Rumbelow, pp. 51–55; Marriott, p. 13
  15. Evans and Rumbelow, pp. 60–61; Rumbelow, pp. 24–27
  16. Rumbelow, p. 42
  17. Marriott, pp. 26–29; Rumbelow, p. 42
  18. Begg, Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History, p. 153; Marriott, pp. 59–75
  19. Begg, Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History, pp. 176–184
  20. Begg, Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History, pp. 193–194
  21. Macnaghten's notes quoted by Rumbelow, p. 140
  22. Evans and Rumbelow, p. 260
  23. Interview in the East London Observer, 14 May 1910, quoted in Evans and Rumbelow, p. 239
  24. Rumbelow, p.131
  25. Evans and Rumbelow, p. 209
  26. Marriott, p.195
  27. Evans and Rumbelow, p. 210
  28. Evans and Rumbelow, pp. 218–222
  29. Evans, Stewart P.; Connell, Nicholas (2000). The Man Who Hunted Jack the Ripper. ISBN 1902791053
  30. Reynold's News 29 October 1950, in which Terrence Robinson dubs her Fairy Fay "for want of a better name"
  31. Evans and Skinner, The Ultimate Jack the Ripper Sourcebook, p. 3
  32. Begg, Jack the Ripper: The Facts, pp. 21–25
  33. Spicer, Gerard "The Thames Torso Murders of 1887–89", Casebook: Jack the Ripper, retrieved 1 May 2009
  34. Scott, Christopher (2004). "Jack the Ripper: A Cast of Thousands", published as an ebook by Apropos Books, published online by Casebook: Jack the Ripper, retrieved 1 May 2009
  35. Gordon, R. Michael (2002). "The Thames Torso Murders of Victorian London". McFarland & Company. ISBN 9780786413485
  36. Evans and Rumbelow, pp. 210–213
  37. Evans and Rumbelow, p. 202
  38. Her nickname is often mistakenly given as Old Shakespeare, but the Old was added years later in a news report not as part of her nickname but as a general descriptor. See [1]
  39. Vanderlinden, Wolf (2003–04). "The New York Affair", in Ripper Notes part one #16 (July 2003); part two #17 (January 2004), part three #19 (July 2004 ISBN 0975912909)
  40. Canter, David. Criminal Shadows: Inside the Mind of the Serial Killer, pp.12–13, ISBN 0 00 255215 9
  41. Inspector Donald Swanson's report to the Home Office, 19 October 1888, HO 144/221/A49301C, quoted in Begg, Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History, p. 205; Evans and Rumbelow, p. 113; Evans and Skinner, The Ultimate Jack the Ripper Sourcebook, p. 125
  42. Begg, Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History, p. 57
  43. Begg, p. 205; Evans and Rumbelow, pp. 84–85
  44. Canter, David. Criminal Shadows: Inside the Mind of the Serial Killer, pp. 5–6, ISBN 0 00 255215 9
  45. Evans and Rumblelow, pp. 186–187
  46. Letter from Thomas Bond to Robert Anderson, 10 November 1888, quoted in Rumbelow, pp. 145–147
  47. Evans and Rumblelow, pp. 187–188, 261
  48. Rumbelow, p. 93
  49. Marriott, John, "The Imaginative Geography of the Whitechapel murders", in Werner, p. 48
  50. Rumbelow, p. 274
  51. Inspector Donald Swanson's report to the Home Office, 19 October 1888, HO 144/221/A49301C, quoted in Begg, Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History, p. 206 and Evans and Skinner, The Ultimate Jack the Ripper Sourcebook, p. 125
  52. Donald McCormick estimated "probably at least 2000" (quoted in Evans and Skinner, Jack the Ripper: Letters from Hell, p. 180). The Illustrated Police News of 20 October 1888 said that around 700 letters had been investigated by police (quoted in Evans and Skinner, Jack the Ripper: Letters from Hell, p. 199). Over 300 are preserved at the Corporation of London Records Office (Evans and Skinner, Jack the Ripper: Letters from Hell, p. 149).
  53. Begg, Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History, p. 165; Evans and Skinner, Jack the Ripper: Letters from Hell, p. 105; Rumbelow, pp. 105–116
  54. Over 200 are preserved at the Public Record Office (Evans and Skinner, Jack the Ripper: Letters from Hell, pp. 8, 180).
  55. Evans and Skinner, Jack the Ripper: Letters from Hell, pp. 16–18
  56. Evans and Skinner, Jack the Ripper: Letters from Hell, p. 179; Marriott, p. 221
  57. Marriott, pp. 219–222; Rumbelow, p. 123
  58. Evans and Skinner, Jack the Ripper: Letters from Hell, pp. 32–33
  59. Letter from Charles Warren to Godfrey Lushington, 10 October 1888, Metropolitan Police Archive MEPO 1/48, quoted in Evans and Skinner, Jack the Ripper: Letters from Hell, p. 43
  60. Quoted in Evans and Skinner, Jack the Ripper: Letters from Hell, pp. 41, 52
  61. Evans and Skinner, Jack the Ripper: Letters From Hell, pp. 45–48; Marriott, pp. 219–222; Rumbelow, pp. 121–122
  62. Quoted in Evans and Skinner, Jack the Ripper: Letters from Hell, p. 49 and Marriott, p. 254
  63. Professor Francis E. Camps, August 1966, "More on Jack the Ripper", Crime and Detection, quoted in Evans and Skinner, Jack the Ripper: Letters from Hell, pp. 51–52
  64. [ Casebook: Jack the Ripper - Ripper Letters
  65. Marriott, p. 223
  66. Was Jack the Ripper a Woman? Kathy Marks , The Independent, 18 May 2006. Accessed 5 February 2009
  67. Meikle, p. 197; Rumbelow, p. 246
  68. Manchester Guardian, 6 September 1888, quoted in Begg, Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History, p. 98
  69. e.g. Manchester Guardian, 10 September 1888, and Austin Statesman, 5 September 1888, quoted in Begg, Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History, pp. 98–99
  70. Leytonstone Express and Independent, 8 September 1888, quoted in Begg, Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History, p. 99
  71. Report by Inspector Joseph Helson, CID 'J' Division, in the Metropolitan Police archive, MEPO 3/140 ff. 235–8, quoted in Begg, Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History, p. 99
  72. Evans and Skinner, Jack the Ripper: Letters from Hell, pp. 13, 86
  73. Ackroyd, Peter, "Introduction", in Werner, p. 10
  74. Davenport-Hines, Richard (2004). "Jack the Ripper (fl. 1888)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Subscription required for online version.
  75. Begg, Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History, p. 208
  76. Begg, Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History, p. 214
  77. Marriott, John, "The Imaginative Geography of the Whitechapel murders", in Werner, p. 54
  78. Marriott, p.205; Rumbelow, p.263
  79. Begg, Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History, p. 43
  80. Meikle, Denis (2002). Jack the Ripper: The Murders and the Movies. Richmond, Surrey: Reynolds and Hearn Ltd. ISBN 1-903111-32-3.
  81. Begg, pp.x–xi; Marriott, pp.205, 267–268; Rumbelow, pp.209–244
  82. Marriott, p.204
  83. Whiteway, Ken (2004). "A Guide to the Literature of Jack the Ripper". Canadian Law Library Review vol.29 pp.219–229
  84. Eddleston, pp.195–244
  85. Begg, Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History, pp. 1–2
  86. Vaughan, Laura, "Mapping the East End Labyrinth", in Werner, pp. 236–237
  87. Dennis, Richard, "Common Lodgings and 'Furnished Rooms': Housing in 1880s Whitechapel", in Werner, pp. 177–179
  88. Begg, Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History, p. 299; Marriott, pp. 272–277; Rumbelow, pp. 251–253
  89. Casebook: Jack the Ripper's list of Ripper-specific non-fiction books
  90. Casebook: Jack the Ripper list of Ripper periodicals
  91. Dew, Walter (1938). I Caught Crippen. London: Blackie and Son. p. 126, quoted in Begg, p. 198
  92. Bloom, Clive, "Jack the Ripper – A Legacy in Pictures", in Werner, p. 251
  93. Bloom, Clive, "Jack the Ripper – A Legacy in Pictures", in Werner, pp. 252–253
  94. Bloom, Clive, "Jack the Ripper – A Legacy in Pictures", in Werner, pp. 255–260
  95. Rumbelow, p.xv
  96. Begg, Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History, p. 19
  97. Pauline Chapman (1984) Madame Tussaud's Chamber of Horrors. London, Constable: 96
  98. "Jack the Ripper is 'worst Briton'" at BBC News


  • Begg, Paul (2003). Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History. London: Pearson Education. ISBN 0-582-50631-X
  • Begg, Paul (2006). Jack the Ripper: The Facts. Anova Books. ISBN 1-86105-687-7.
  • Begg, Paul, Martin Fido and Keith Skinner (1996). The Jack the Ripper A-Z. Headline Book Publishing. ISBN 0-7472-5522-9.
  • Curtis, Lewis Perry. Jack The Ripper & The London Press. Yale University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-300-08872-8.
  • Eddleston, John J. (2002). Jack the Ripper: An Encyclopedia. London: Metro Books. ISBN 1-8435-8046-2.
  • Evans, Stewart P.; Rumbelow, Donald (2006). Jack the Ripper: Scotland Yard Investigates. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0-7509-4228-2.
  • Evans, Stewart P.; Skinner, Keith (2001). Jack the Ripper: Letters from Hell. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0-7509-2549-3.
  • Evans, Stewart P.; Skinner, Keith (2002). The Ultimate Jack the Ripper Sourcebook. Robinson. ISBN 0-7867-0768-2.
  • Jakubowski, Maxim and Nathan Braund, editors. The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper. Carroll & Graf Publishers, 1999. ISBN 0-7867-0626-0.
  • Marriott, Trevor (2005). Jack the Ripper: The 21st Century Investigation. London: John Blake. ISBN 1-84454-103-7.
  • Meikle, Denis (2002). Jack the Ripper: The Murders and the Movies. Richmond, Surrey: Reynolds and Hearn Ltd. ISBN 1-903111-32-3
  • Odell, Robin. Ripperology. Kent State University Press, 2006. ISBN 0-87338-861-5.
  • Rumbelow, Donald (2004). The Complete Jack the Ripper. Fully Revised and Updated. Penguin Books. ISBN 9780140173956
  • Sugden, Philip (2002). The Complete History of Jack the Ripper. Carroll & Graf Publishers. ISBN 0-7867-0276-1.
  • Werner, Alex (editor) (2008). Jack the Ripper and the East End. London: Chatto & Windus. ISBN 9780701182472

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