Almost certainly the one single reason for the enduring appeal of this rather sordid series of prostitute murders is the name Jack the Ripper.
Today, in the public records office, written in blood red ink, remains probably the most famous letter in the history crime. Subject to fierce debate among historians and experts for over a century it is known as the “Dear Boss letter.”
It was received at the Central news agency on 27th September 1888, almost three weeks following the death of the second official victim, Annie Chapman.
This letter was to alter the perception of the Whitechapel murders forever and created perhaps the most infamous nick name in criminal history.
25th September 1888
I keep on hearing the police have caught me but they won’t 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 shan’t 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 can’t use it. Red ink is fit enough I hope ha. ha. The next job I do I shall clip the lady’s 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.
Jack the Ripper
Don’t mind me giving the trade name
PS Wasn’t 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 Central news agency did not release the letter until 30th September, since it contained a prediction that no-one would have wanted to make public until it had been proved true or false. Some senior officers were convinced it was a hoax and modern historians have largely followed this conclusion.
Regardless who wrote the letter, the nickname was a fantastic piece of tabloid marketing, the name Jack the Ripper would become a news man’s dream. Suddenly all of London had a name to go with the brutal killings and everything that was bad about the east end could be personified into one character.
Another letter, widely debated among the experts is the so called “From Hell” letter.
This was sent to Mr George Lusk, chairman of the Whitechapel Vigilance committee along with half a human kidney.
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
Catch me when
It’s true to say after 126 years the crimes are sometimes forgotten by the outside world. However, that the name “Jack the Ripper ” survives and when mentioned instantly conjures up images of old Victorian nights, east end cobble stones, foggy alleyways and that shadowy figure lurking in the darkness, top hat, cloak , doctors bag and shiny knife, the bogey man of London, the eternal image of Jack the Ripper.
Where these letters really the words of Jack the Ripper? Or were they hoaxes aimed at an eager and gullible press? Why not take one of our Jack the Ripper tours and find out for yourself.
Richard Cobb – has written 201 posts on this site.
Richard Cobb is a industry expert on everything Jack The Ripper, he is also the founding partner of The Jack The Ripper Tour which has become extremely successful over the last 3 years.