Join 3,501 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Face it, we'll never know
November 11, 2004 5:36 PM   Subscribe

Jack the Ripper: the most complete online resource. A wealth of information, from scanned letters purportedly sent by the killer, to contemporary police reports, to recent scholarship and discussion, articles about Victorian London, social history, and dissertations. To my mind the most interesting of all are the detailed biographies of the victims, which give a glimpse of the difficult life experienced by working-class Londoners, especially women, during the mid 19th century. Note: The site has been mentioned here before, but only in the context of two discussions about Patricia Cornwell's book claiming that the murders were committed by artist Walter Sickert (1, 2). Some images NSFW.
posted by jokeefe (16 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Awesome. I just read Alan Moore's "From Hell" (the single finest work of comic book art the world has ever seen) for the third time to gear up for autumn. Thanks.
posted by interrobang at 5:43 PM on November 11, 2004


An example from the biography of Catherine Eddowes:

At the age of 21, Catherine is still living with her aunt but becomes involved with Thomas Conway, an older pensioner from the 18the Royal Irish. Conway enlisted and drew his pension under the name Thomas Quinn. The couple went to Birmingham and other towns making a living selling cheap books of lives written by the pensioner. Again, according to the article in the January 1995 Black Country Bugle, they also specialized in the production of gallows ballads. On one occasion she hawked such a ballad at the execution of her cousin, Christopher Robinson, hanged at Strafford in January 1866.
posted by jokeefe at 5:44 PM on November 11, 2004


Excellent resource, thank you --

But what do you mean, we'll never know? I'm pretty sure Kirk found him on Argelius II and had him transported into deep space.
posted by Hypharse at 6:53 PM on November 11, 2004


Well, there are known knowns, and then there are known unknowns, and so on.

I'm glad he's out in space somewhere.
posted by interrobang at 7:04 PM on November 11, 2004


this wins "post of the day" for me. thanks.
posted by matteo at 7:07 PM on November 11, 2004


top link! Thanks!
posted by dabitch at 7:51 PM on November 11, 2004


The Ripper is interesting because of the profound desire to peg the crime on someone with either fame or power at the time. When you look at the history of serial murder, the majority have been nameless, faceless middle-class nobodies who got caught only by accident. I suspect if you really want to find the Ripper, you should probably be checking through death records, not the who's who of London.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:13 PM on November 11, 2004


Great post! I just finished reading Patricia Cornwell's book, but never thought to do a search of the topic on MeFi. I will now be happily occuppied for next couple of hours:-)
posted by invisible ink at 9:51 PM on November 11, 2004


The Ripper is interesting because of the profound desire to peg the crime on someone with either fame or power at the time. When you look at the history of serial murder, the majority have been nameless, faceless middle-class nobodies who got caught only by accident. I suspect if you really want to find the Ripper, you should probably be checking through death records, not the who's who of London.

i thought the prevailing belief was that the precision and/or rapidity of the dissection implied medical knowledge which would not have been available to a middle class nobody?
posted by juv3nal at 10:22 PM on November 11, 2004


One thing I've been wondering is: why did he stop? I'm not into serial killers, but as far as I know they don't stop until they get caught. Are there any known cases where people do something similar and then decide that it's enough and go back to a normal life?
(Two possible answers: He was caught, and we don't know about it. He killed himself. )
posted by Termite at 10:39 PM on November 11, 2004


Third possible answer: He was abducted by mysterious space aliens.
posted by neckro23 at 11:43 PM on November 11, 2004


Termite, those are two of the three best possible answers for the Ripper's end: caught, died (most notably the Thames suicide who may have been a patsy), or finished his work. I've always loved the Sickert/Gull/Netley theory, which posits that the victims were targeted for their knowledge of a deep dark secret. Sure, there are holes in that theory (check out the Prince Eddie links on the casebook site), but it does offer another explanation for the end of Ripper murders - Mission Accomplished, if you will. I've always been fascinated by the Ripper case, probably for the same reasons I eat up the Kennedy assassination stuff - somewhere, there *is* a TRUTH, and it almost certainly is revealed somewhere in the mass of conflicting clues.
posted by Banky_Edwards at 12:09 AM on November 12, 2004


Addendum: The theory I referenced was spelled out most convincingly in Jack The Ripper: The Final Solution by Stephen Knight. It's a *great* read, regardless of whether you can get past his Masonic fetish, or you believe the debunkers (and boy, can Ripperologists get testy!). This is what the movie From Hell was largely based on. Even if his "Final Solution" is wrong, he addresses some great mysteries that other theories completely ignore, such as the murders being committed in a carriage (hence the lack of blood), the murderer being upperclass (hence the undoubtably paranoid street girls getting that close to the Ripper), and the previously unrevealed potential links between the victims (previously thought to be completely unrelated).
posted by Banky_Edwards at 12:18 AM on November 12, 2004


Banky, minor nit-pick: From Hell was based on the Alan Moore comic of the same name (mentioned above), though it is clear through Moore's footnotes that he drew heavily from that book as a source. I'll echo interrobang's love of the book: if you are interested in this stuff, it is definitely worth a read. Excellent book by any measure.

Thanks for this post. I love reading about The Ripper. I was unsatisfied with Cornwall's explanation, but this will give me some good reading for a good long while.
posted by synecdoche at 12:29 AM on November 12, 2004


Synecdoche: nitpick accepted, I forgot about the From Hell sourcing. (Probably because I haven't read it, but was aware of its roots in The Final Solution.) I've been meaning to pick up some of the new Ripper books as well, but...well...I'm lazy. So it goes.
posted by Banky_Edwards at 7:55 AM on November 12, 2004


juv3nal: i thought the prevailing belief was that the precision and/or rapidity of the dissection implied medical knowledge which would not have been available to a middle class nobody?

If you read the faq on linked site, there was a wide variety of contemporary opinion regarding the precision of dissection ranging from the opinion that the murders were mere butchery to a high level of skill. Another interesting aspect of how we want to view the murders through the light of history.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:56 AM on November 12, 2004


« Older Outing Closeted Republicans, part 1,574...  |  Hey how's it going? Welcome to... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments