The Hunt for Jack the Ripper

The Hunt for Jack the RipperJack the Ripper

Rubinstein, William D.

History Today, (May, 2000)


The brutal murders of five prostitutes in London’s East End in the autumn of 1888 by an unknown killer who came to be called ‘Jack the Ripper’ are probably the most famous unsolved crimes in history. During the past Jack the Ripper Letterforty years a plethora of theories has been offered as to the identity of the Ripper. In recent years, the Ripper industry has mushroomed: it is likely that more has been written on this case than on any other staple of amateur historiography (the true identity of Shakespeare and the Kennedy assassination possibly excepted). The number of books about Jack the Ripper published internationally shows this dramatically: 1888-1909–nine; 1910-49–five; 1950-69– four; 1970-79–ten; 1980-89–twelve; 1990-99–thirty-nine. Most of these offer original ‘solutions’ to the question of the Ripper’s identity. There has also been a stream of films, television programmes and novels. Two high quality British journals, The Ripperologist and Ripperana, are devoted to the subject, as are two others in America. The ‘Cloak and Dagger Club’, with a membership of over 220, is devoted almost exclusively to presenting talks and seminars on Jack, almost always with the aim of identifying the killer.

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