eldritchhobbit: (Ripper Street)
Two separate history items today.

* A book is getting ready to hit shelves that claims new forensic evidence (including a fresh DNA analysis) proves that Aaron Kosminski was Jack the Ripper.

I don't really have a horse in this race, as I don't have a "pet suspect" in whom I'm invested, but Kosminski as the culprit certainly would not be surprising to me. There are very good reasons to be skeptical about this book's claims, however. Until I've had a chance to read this book critically, I'll be minding the reviews and keeping a close eye on the (already twelve-page) discussion unfolding about it at the Casebook.org forum.

- Incidentally, the best book I've read thus far on Kosminski as a suspect is Robert House's 2010 Jack the Ripper and the Case for Scotland Yard's Prime Suspect.

- In addition, Kosminski's asylum records will be opened to researchers in 2019, which should yield some new insights.


* In unrelated news, the University of Oklahoma Libraries is inviting members of the public to help transcribe U.S. Civil War documents. Join University Libraries in commemorating the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Civil War by transcribing a Civil War diary and letters. Your transcriptions will make these manuscripts more accessible to researchers everywhere! Click here for more information.
eldritchhobbit: (Ripper/suspicion)
I had quite a bit of archive-y, research-y, rambly fun before Worldcon. As for London, beyond the Sherlock Holmes Museum, I managed to drop by the Museum of London (my photos are here) and several Holmesian spots, such as Arthur Conan Doyle's home on Upper Wimpole Street (where he wrote the first five Sherlock Holmes short stories), St. Bart's Hospital (where Holmes and Watson first met and, in the BBC's Sherlock, where Sherlock fell), etc.

Arthur Conan Doyle's home on Upper Wimpole Street in London. He wrote the first five Sherlock Holmes short stories here while practicing as an ophthalmologist. St. Bart's Hospital in London

In one of the most amazing experiences of my trip, I was privileged to get to spend an afternoon one-on-one in Whitechapel with noted Ripperologist Richard Jones. I've annotated my photos to try to explain where we went and why. (Alas, I didn't take photos inside the Royal London Hospital Museum and Archives, which was utterly fascinating.) Even if you're not specifically interested in the subject of Jack the Ripper and the Autumn of Terror, you may find the historical architecture worth a look.

Here is the "virtual tour" of Whitechapel I've constructed with my photos and explanations.

I'll leave you with a teaser: this is the beautiful tile work inside The Ten Bells Pub, which has been standing since 1752 and remains largely unchanged on the inside from its condition in 1888, when it reportedly served at least two victims traditionally attributed to Jack the Ripper, Annie Chapman and Mary Jane Kelly.


I'll be posting very soon about Worldcon/Loncon 3 itself. Thanks for letting me share! :)
eldritchhobbit: (Ripper/suspicion)
Happy birthday to Robert Bloch (5 April, 1917 – 23 September, 1994), one of the youngest members of the Lovecraft Circle.

bloch ripper

“I think perhaps all of us go a little crazy at times.”
― Robert Bloch, Psycho (1959)

"In the strict scientific sense, Doctor, we all feed on death. Even vegetarians."
― Mr. Spock to Dr. McCoy in Robert Bloch's episode "The Wolf in the Fold," Star Trek (1967)

“So much for modern science and its wonderful discoveries that just about everything can kill you. Life is only a bedtime story before a long, long sleep.”
― Robert Bloch, Lori (1989)
eldritchhobbit: (Ripper/suspicion)
Today completes my observance of the 125th anniversary of the Autumn of Terror. The third and final part of my latest three-part "Looking Back on Genre History" podcast segment, which focuses on how science fiction authors have wrestled with the Jack the Ripper mystery, is now available here at StarShipSofa. (Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here.)


On this day in 1888, the body of Mary Jane Kelly - the last "canonical" victim of Jack the Ripper, the youngest (approximately 25 years old), and the only one to be murdered indoors - was found in her home at 13 Miller's Court. This day is often used to mark the end of the Ripper's reign over the Autumn of Terror.

Ripperologists continue to debate whether later deaths by violent murder (such as those of Annie Farmer and Rose Mylett in 1888, Elizabeth Jackson and Alice Mackenzie in 1889, and Frances Coles and Carrie Brown in 1891, among others) also should be attributed to Jack the Ripper.


* See Casebook: Jack the Ripper's Mary Jane Kelly page.
eldritchhobbit: (Ripper/neglect)
Today's post continues my observance of the 125th anniversary of the Autumn of Terror, and it also offers another "This Day in Spooky History" installment of my Halloween countdown.

On this day in 1888, George Lusk, then the head of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee in London, received a package containing a letter allegedly written by the serial killer known as Jack the Ripper. The missive later became known as the "From Hell Letter." It was accompanied by a small box containing half of what doctors later determined was a human kidney, preserved in ethanol, which may have been taken from Ripper victim Catherine Eddowes. Many investigators, researchers, and historians agree that, of the many so-called "Ripper letters," this is the one most likely to have been penned by the real murderer.


The letter read as follows (sic):

From hell

Mr Lusk

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.

Catch me when
you Can
Mishter Lusk.


* Read more about the alleged Ripper letters here at Casebook: Jack the Ripper and here at Wikipedia.
* Read reviews of Jack the Ripper: Letters from Hell (by Stewart Evans and Keith Skinner, 2001), which reproduces and transcribes the letters (mis)attributed to Jack the Ripper, including the 'Dear Boss' correspondence and the 'From Hell' letter. "The authors relate the letters to the complete story of the Whitechapel murders, tracing the hysteria and misconceptions that dogged both the police and Fleet Street during 1888-9 and providing revealing insights into the Victorian psyche. For the first time the cases of three people arrested by the police for sending 'Jack the Ripper' letters are explored, including that of Maria Coroner, the attractive 21-year-old Bradford girl. Evans and Skinner also examine the letters of seven suspects, including Dr. Roslyn D'Onston Stephenson and Nikaner Benelius. The story of the Ripper letters ends by posing a controversial question: was Jack the Ripper merely a press invention?"
eldritchhobbit: (Re-Animator/Weird)
As a follow-up to my earlier countdown post today, I have a few Halloween-friendly news items to share.

* First, I have been a fan of Jeffrey Combs for many years, and his portrayals of Edgar Allan Poe (in television's Black Cat and his one-man show Nevermore) are simply outstanding. I had a chance to talk with him about Poe last year at ConCarolinas, and I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated his insights into the author. He takes Poe very seriously, and I take this Kickstarter very seriously. Let's make a feature film of Nevermore happen!

Master Horror director Stuart Gordon, brilliant actor Jeffrey Combs, and inspired screenwriter Dennis Paoli -- the team that brought you From Beyond and Re-Animator - team up again to bring you a brand new feature film: NEVERMORE. Visit the Kickstarter campaign.

* In other news, this week's episode of StarShipSofa includes the second of my three-part "Looking Back into Genre History" series that remembers the 125th anniversary of the Autumn of Terror by exploring the ways in which science fiction has wrestled with the mystery of Jack the Ripper. (The first part of the three-part series is here.) If you listen, I hope you enjoy!

* Last but certainly not least, TheOneRing.net's monthly Rewrite Tolkien Contest theme is [insert drum roll here] The Hobbit as written by Edgar Allan Poe. You know you want to take part in this. (Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] jan_u_wine and [livejournal.com profile] wellinghall.)

"There are few persons, even among the calmest thinkers, who have not occasionally been startled into a vague yet thrilling half-credence in the supernatural..."
- Edgar Allan Poe, "The Mystery of Marie Rogêt"
eldritchhobbit: (Ripper/neglect)
On this day in 1888, the morning issue of London's Daily News printed the text of a message allegedly written by the serial killer who was terrorizing Whitechapel at the time. The missive later became known as the "Dear Boss Letter," and it remains significant because it was the first time the name "Jack the Ripper" was given to the murderer. The letter had been postmarked and received on September 27 by the Central News Agency of London.

Jack The Ripper - Eyewitness Accounts

The letter read as follows (sic):

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


Read more about the alleged Ripper letters here at Casebook: Jack the Ripper.
eldritchhobbit: (Ripper/suspicion)
Liz Stride Kate Eddowes

On this day in 1888, known as the "Double Event," 45-year-old Elizabeth "Long Liz" Stride and 46-year-old Catherine "Kate" Eddowes, the third and fourth "canonical" victims of Jack the Ripper, were found murdered. Whether Stride's relatively unmutilated body indicates that the Ripper was interrupted or that her murder was the deed of an altogether different killer remains a debated question among students of the case.

Police News 1888

* See Casebook: Jack the Ripper's Elizabeth Stride page.
* See Casebook: Jack the Ripper's Catherine Eddowes page.
eldritchhobbit: (Ripper/suspicion)
Annie Chapman

On this day in 1888, Annie Chapman, the second "canonical" victim of Jack the Ripper, was found murdered and mutilated in the backyard of 29 Hanbury Street, Spitalfields, London.

Below is the marker found at the murder site today.


Chapman is the only Ripper victim for whom there is a known and verified photograph taken in life. Below is a portrait of Annie and her husband John Chapman, c.1869, as originally posted on Casebook: Jack the Ripper with the permission of the Chapman family and Neal Shelden.


* See Casebook: Jack the Ripper's Annie Chapman page.
eldritchhobbit: (Ripper/suspicion)
Polly Nichols

On this day in 1888, 43-year-old Mary Ann "Polly" Nichols, the first "canonical" victim of Jack the Ripper, was found murdered and mutilated on Buck's Row, Whitechapel, roughly 150 yards from the London Hospital and 100 yards from Blackwall Buildings.

Illustrated Police News - 8th September 1888

Below is a picture of the Buck's Row Board School, the only remaining building contemporaneous with the site of the Nichols murder.

Buck's Row Board School, Whitechapel

* Recently discovered photos of Nichols's daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter may be seen in this discussion thread. (Scroll down.)
* Read "Old Wounds: Re-examining the Buck's Row Murder" by Tom Wescott.
* Read "The Riddle of New Cottage" by Paul Daniel.
* See Casebook: Jack the Ripper's Mary Ann Nichols page.
eldritchhobbit: (Ripper/suspicion)
Many thanks to everyone who has participated in my poll about my annual October posts! If you haven't voted yet, the poll is still open. Please feel free to vote by commenting, as well. Thanks so much!

And now, on to the post...

On this day in 1888, 39-year-old Martha Tabram was found stabbed 39 times, murdered in the George Yard Buildings of East London. Her killer was never discovered. Although she is not considered to be one of the "Canonical Five" victims of Jack the Ripper, many investigators at the time and scholars since have linked her death to the Ripper's killing spree.

(An earlier murder, that of Emma Smith in April, might also have been related to the later killings, although this is not as widely held a theory.)

Below is the current site of what was the Two Brewers pub, where Martha and her friend "Pearly Poll" picked up two guardsmen. Later the two women parted ways, and Martha went with the Private into George Yard. Her body was discovered hours later on the morning of August 7, 1888.

The Old Two Brewers

* Read "Martha Tabram: The Forgotten Ripper Victim?" by Jon Ogan
* Read "The Case for Re-Canonizing Martha Tabram" by Quentin L. Pittman, esq.
* Read "The Silence of Violence: A Witness to the Martha Tabram Murder Exposed" by Tom Wescott
* See Casebook: Jack the Ripper's Martha Tabram page.


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