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The journalist who created Jack the Ripper

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Many of us know the name Jack the Ripper. Perhaps we associate it with a dark shadow wearing a top hat and holding a knife in the middle of a foggy street in Victorian London. But not many of us know that this image is very far away from any reliable fact that has reached us about the 1888 tragic events that took place in Whitechapel. One of the most fascinating aspects of the Whitechapel murders is indeed how long they survived in the collective imagination and how distant their recollection is from anything we know to be true. Between 1888 and 1891 there were between 5 and 11 unsolved murders of women in Whitechapel, most of them with distinctive features such as the removal of organs. Traditionally, only five of these murders are attributed to Jack the Ripper. However, the reality is that there is no hard evidence that any of these murders were connected. With so little evidence to speculate on, why are we then still interested in this case and why is there a new book, film, or documentary every year? The answer is not just because it is a mystery. There are so many other fascinating and equally gruesome mysteries from Victorian London that most people have never heard about (e.g. the Thames torso murders). I believe that the answer lies in the Jack the Ripper letters, which painted a persona of this killer that is responsible for its long-lasting legacy. The name “Jack the Ripper” appears for the first time in the Dear Boss letter, dated 25 September 1888 and addressed to the Central News Agency in London. Image credit: Dear Boss letter part one. Photo provided by Andrea Nini. Used with permission. Image credit: Dear Boss letter part two. Photo provided by Andrea Nini. Used with permission. Written in red ink, the letter is distinctive for its style and tone and is characterised by a certain arrogance in taunting the police for their failures. The letter was regarded as a hoax until a double murder of two women on the 30 September. The following morning a. . .

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News source: Linguistics – OUPblog

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