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Autumn of Terror: Who Was Jack the Ripper?

By @hmsbeefnuts

Last time I blogged about Jack the Ripper, we looked at his reign of terror, during the Autumn of 1888. Now his crimes were appalling, but the mystery of who he was still draws in people to this day. It’s time then to look into some of the likely, ridiculous and interesting suspects, that have been suggested over the years by various police officers, ripperologists, and so-called experts. Nothing excites those interested in Jack the Ripper like a new suspect and theory, so over the years, there have been many brought forward, and many rejected, so without further ado, lets name some suspects shall we?

Francis Tumblety

Tumblety was a homosexual quack doctor, who was said to have a deep hatred for women, and a collection of uteri, that he delighted in showing people. He was in Whitechapel at the time of the murders, although he was an American. He led a very interesting life, being arrested for his complicity with the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, although he was released with no charge. I at one time spent a summer with a friend trying to write a TV show about Jack the Ripper, and Tumblety was our choice for the Ripper. He may not have been the murderer, but he was mentioned by police at the time, and he certainly is a fascinating character.

Sir William Gull

Part of the Masonic/Royal conspiracy theory that was popular for a time with certain people, and the killer in the Johnny Depp movie From Hell, Gull was the Doctor of Queen Victoria. There is not a lot of evidence that he was involved, but people love a conspiracy, and a conspiracy involving Royalty is even better.

H. H. Holmes

Another American, and a confirmed serial killer. In 1893 at the Chicago Worlds Fair, Holmes opened a hotel, one specifically designed to feed his lust for murdering women. It is claimed he may have killed more than 200 victims, although he only confessed to 27, and only 4 of those were confirmed. He is a Jack the Ripper suspect based on a hand writing experts opinion that letter Holmes wrote whilst in prison, are identical to those supposedly written by Jack the Ripper.

James Maybrick

More than a few years ago now, a diary was said to have been found that was supposedly written by Jack the Ripper himself. The diary was that of James Maybrick. I have read the published diary, and it is a good read, if you like that sort of thing, but it has been proven that the original diary is a forgery.

The Duke of Clarence

Supposedly driven mad by syphilis, mad enough to walk the streets of Whitechapel murdering prostitutes, Prince Albert Victor is the most important suspect ever named as the Ripper. Of course, it is certain that he didn’t do it, but he is also linked to the Royal Conspiracy theory with William Gull. Some people just want to blame the great and good, or not so good, depending on your point of view.

Others

Of course, there have been hundreds of suspects brought forward throughout the years. Even famous names, such as Lewis Carrol, artist Walter Sickett, and popular Victorian actor Richard Mansfield, who was thought a suspect because of his terrifying portrayal of Jekyll and Hyde, which was a popular stage show at the time. Also Dr Bernado, the famous benefactor of children’s homes was also thought to be a suspect, but there is no evidence to suggest that any of these men were responsible, and in some cases, it would have been impossible. It seems if you were a famous name who frequented London at the time of the Ripper killings, then you can become a suspect, well it will certainly sell books. Could the Ripper have been a woman? Jill the Ripper has been suggested over the years, from a crazed midwife, to a woman driven mad by the fact she could not have children, she took it out on the lowest orders of society.

Who really knows? Well we will never know for certain, unless some faultless evidence comes to light, but really, it is the mystery that keeps people interested in the Jack the Ripper case, no one really wants to know for sure, suggesting suspects is far too interesting.

Autumn of Terror: Jack the Ripper

By @hmsbeefnuts

So right at the beginning of the month, as we started this Autumn of Terror, I mentioned that I would like to write some sort of blog all about the events that were first termed the Autumn of Terror. Well, here it is. Better late than never. From the 31st August 1888 (perhaps before this date) and 9th November 1888 (perhaps even after this date) the London district of Whitechapel was stalked by the most famous serial killer of all time, Jack the Ripper. Now I have always found this type of thing fascinating, and the fact that to this day, no one knows who the murderer was, is even more intriguing. Now in this blog, I would like to just outline the basic information surrounding the case, and for next time, a run down of the weird assortment of suspects that have been suggested over the years. So without further ado, lets take a trip to Whitechapel circa Autumn 1888.

Jack the Ripper may have killed as many as 11 women during his reign of terror, but ripperologists usually only count 5 true victims, known as the canonical five. The murders grew in severity as time went on, with the last canonical victim being greatly disfigured and chopped up, not a very nice sight at all. Pictures were taken of the last victim Mary Kelly, but I will not post them here, a quick google search will give you all you need if you so wish. The murders started on Friday 31st August, when Mary Ann Nichols was murdered in Bucks Row Whitechapel. She had various ghastly injuries, including much trauma to her abdomen, and two cuts to her throat. The next victim, Annie Chapman, was found murdered on September 8th 1888, in the back yard of 29 Hanbury Street. Once again, her throat was heavily cut twice, her lower body was mutilated, and her uterus had been removed. Things were getting worse by the week in the extremely poor area of Whitechapel, and they were only going to get worse.

Sunday 30th September 1888, was a sad day for the people of Whitechapel. In what would later become known as the double event, two women were brutally murdered. Elizabeth Stride was found around 1 am, near Berner Street. Her throat had been cut, but no other mutilations had been caused. It is suggested that the murderer had been interrupted by a man and his horse drawn cart, and so he hadn’t had time to finish his ‘work’. He would soon strike again however. At 1.45 am, Catherine Eddowes body was found in Mitre Square, which fell within the district of the City of London Police, a different force from the other murders. The now usual throat and abdomen injuries were apparent, but also half of her kidney and uterus was missing from the body. Another very strange thing was said to have occurred on this night. In Ghoulston Street, not far from Mitre Square, a bloody piece of Eddowes apron was found, and on the wall near by, a chalked piece of graffiti was found. Seemingly blaming the murders on the Jewish community, although the graffiti might have been a weird coincidence, as there was no lack of anti-Semitism in London at the time. The graffiti was washed off the wall before being photographed as Sir Charles Warren, the Police Commissioner, feared anti-semitic riots. The graffiti is an interesting little aside to the murders, and experts argue over whether or not the Ripper actually chalked the message himself, or simply dropped his bloody apron near a piece of already written graffiti.

The last canonical murder victim was Mary Jane Kelly, on Friday 9th November 1888. Kelly was found in her living quarters, at 13 Miller’s Court, lying on her bed, with ghastly mutilations. Her throat was cut so deeply, her head was almost severed. Her body was eviserated, emptied of organs, and her heart was missing, and her face was hacked away. The canonical victims came to an end with Mary Kelly, which was also the most savage murder of the series.

The press had a field day with the Whitechapel Murders. They ran with the story and stirred up the populace of London. Letters were sent from the Ripper to the press, and other high ranking members of the community. There are some famous letters that are supposedly from the murderer himself. The ‘From Hell’, ‘Dear Boss’ and ‘Saucy Jack’ letters/postard are the most famous. There is great debate whether or not they are actualy from the murderer, or were in fact written by members of the press, or public who sought to further inflame the story. The Dear Boss Letter is below.

Dear Boss,

I keep on hearing the police have caught me but they wont fix me just yet. I have laughed when they look so clever and talk about being on the right track. That joke about Leather Apron gave me real fits. I am down on whores and I shant quit ripping them till I do get buckled. Grand work the last job was. I gave the lady no time to squeal. How can they catch me now. I love my work and want to start again. You will soon hear of me with my funny little games. I saved some of the proper red stuff in a ginger beer bottle over the last job to write with but it went thick like glue and I cant use it. Red ink is fit enough I hope ha ha The next job I do I shall clip the ladys ears off and send to the police officers just for jolly wouldn’t you. Keep this letter back till I do a bit more work, then give it out straight. My knife’s so nice and sharp I want to get to work right away if I get a chance. Good Luck. Yours truly Jack the Ripper

Dont mind me giving the trade name

PS Wasnt good enough to post this before I got all the red ink off my hands curse it No luck yet. They say I’m a doctor now. ha ha.

The ‘From Hell’ Letter is below…

From hell

Mr Lusk Sor I send you half the Kidne I took from one women prasarved it for you tother piece I fried and ate it was very nise. I may send you the bloody knif that took it out if you only wate a whil longer.

signed Catch me when you Can Mishter Lusk

Thats it for this blog. Next time, I will look at some of the suspects that have been suggested over the years.

Autumn Of Terror: Classic Horror Novels

By @hmsbeefnuts

Autumn of Terror keeps on trucking like that big truck from Duel,down the highway of October. Only stopping once a day to deposit a blog and then ever onwards to November. Todays blog takes us back before there was electronic entertainment, before movies, before video games, when people had to read books in order to be transported to different worlds, that, or visit the local Opium Den. Anyway, this intro has become mired in awkward metaphor and strange references. Today, I hope you will enjoy my list of Classic Horror novels that have thrilled and inspired readers for hundreds of years, so lets get our book on shall we?

Dracula by Bram Stoker

I guess this would be the big one, the one most people will know, but it was not the first, and for my money, not the best on this list. Dracula is however, a fantastic read. I have read this book a few times and it always draws me in. If you have never read it, but have seen the numerous movies etc. I would definitely recommend reading the original, as it might be quite different to what you are expecting. Written as a series of journal entries and letters, from different perspectives, the story of the Transylvanian Vampire, who seeks a new home in Britain, and runs afoul of his greatest nemesis Professor Van Helsing, is a stone cold classic gothic horror novel. Sexy, scary, exciting, this book runs at a breakneck pace, particularly at the end. I highly recommend this book if you haven’t read it, and why not read it again, if you already have, it’s almost Halloween after all.

Frankenstein; Or The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley

Written during a ghost story contest whilst on holiday with her husband and Lord Byron, Mary Shelley clearly beat both men hands down when it came to hugely successful gothic horror behemoths. The tale of a scientist who wants to create life in his own unique style, Frankenstein is a classic of the horror genre. I will be honest and say that I didn’t initially like this book on the first read, but I gave it another chance, and it clicked for me. I think what I found off-putting at first was it was quite a bit different to what I had imagined it would be from all the films based on the book, I had watched. In the novel, Adam, or the monster, is not a shuffling moaning monster, as in the Universal films, but a scheming and intelligent threat to his creator. The novel may be seen as quite tame now, but must have been very controversial at the time. There are few novels more gothic-y than Frankenstein, and as such, it should be enjoyed on a cold, dark autumn night, whilst the wind blows and the rain pours, next to a roaring fire, in a grand drawing-room.

(The) Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

This was the first novel on this list that I read, when I was around 9 I think. It scared me, especially the cover of my copy which I could not find, but the painting of a simian looking man, in top hat and cane spotlighted in moonlight. The book itself is the tale of a good scientist who wants to release mans potential, but ends up unleashing mans animalistic murderous side. I suppose the scariest aspect of this novel is the suggestion that everyone has the potential to unleash the scary brutish nature that normally we keep to ourselves, just look at Dr Bruce Banner.

The Hound of The Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

My personal favourite book on this list, The Hound of the Baskervilles has been read and re-read by me countless times. There is just something about this story that I can’t get enough of. The story concerns the recent death of a Devonshire Lord, seemingly at the hands of a spectral hound, when the new Lord of the manor arrives to take up residence in Baskerville Hall, Sherlock Holmes is called in to offer advice and protection from the hell hound, or other evil forces. I do love detective fiction, and Holmes is the top guy in the field. When Conan Doyle added his love of the paranormal to his most beloved character, it was quite simply dynamite. Nothing would be scarier than being on a moor in the middle of the night and hearing that long mournful howl.

The Lodger by Marie Belloc Lowndes

This book was influenced by the Jack the Ripper murders and concerns a similar serial killer dubbed The Avenger. A strange man moves into a lodging house, who’s owners are down on their luck. He pays his way and suddenly their fortunes turn around, but he keeps odd hours, and acts very strangely. Meanwhile, a series of ghastly murders takes place, who could be responsible for said crimes? Well, obvious really isn’t it? But that does not detract from the greatness of this novel, which is gripping to the last. As I am fascinated by the whole Jack the Ripper mystery, I loved this novel, but I think even if you knew nothing about the Ripper murders, this book is still well worth checking out.

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