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Detective Inspector Frederick Abberline - The Illustrated Police News, 1888!

Ripperology 101

Investigate and Explore the Whitechapel Murders and the origins of “Jack the Ripper”

with the Ripperologist: purveyor of all the latest news, updates, chatter and trends from the field of Ripperology - investigating and exploring the mystery of the 1888 Whitechapel murders and the origins and legacy of “Jack the Ripper” - the archetypal serial killer!

Stay up-to-date by following the Ripperologist on Twitter @Ripperology101!

Check out the Quick Links to the right and explore the Whitechapel Murders and the origins of “Jack the Ripper”. This site is currently under construction (and may be a perpetual work-in-progress as more information comes to light and theories are proposed), but there is already plenty to see. Read below for a brief introduction to the field of Ripperology.

Jack the Ripper in front of St Mary's Church, Whitechapel
Jack the Ripper passes in front of St Mary's Church, Whitechapel

The Whitechapel Murders

In 1888 a spate of unsolved brutal attacks and increasingly gruesome murders of women befell the London East-End District of Whitechapel and its environs. These crimes would make the area world famous as the stalking ground of the mysterious, and as yet unidentified, killer now widely known as Jack the Ripper. The British Empire was at the height of its power and the City of London was its beating heart - the biggest and richest city in the world at the time. But London's neglected East-End was massively overcrowded and the residents of Whitechapel in particular were horrendously impoverished. By any definition it was a rough place to live and police resources were stretched to the limit even before this series of unprecedented killings took hold.

      Of the fifteen attacks considered here as crimes directly relating to the Whitechapel Murders, eleven of them were ultimately fatal and all of them were committed by a person, or persons, unknown. All of the murder victims were women who were often described as "unfortunates", a euphemism of the time that implied they were a sex worker or at least an occasional sex worker, but it was in fact a dismissive label often attached by Victorian society to any impoverished women who did not have the perceived moral safeguard of a husband or other male guardian — as the gender norms of the day dictated. Many contemporary investigators assumed that all the attacks were related and committed by the same callous individual or individuals. However, most Ripperologists today think that as few as five of the murders can be said to have been carried out by the same hand.

      Other crimes that do not technically fit into the scope of the Whitechapel Murders will also be examined in these pages where pertinent connections, to either the Victims or the Suspects, can be theorised.

Whitechapel High Street looking East, 1905
Whitechapel High Street looking East, 1905

Jack the Ripper

The name “Jack the Ripper” first appeared in a hoax letter claiming to be from the killer that was sent to the Central News Agency on the 25th of September 1888. This “Dear Boss” letter, received on the 27th, was probably written by an enterprising journalist desperate for a scoop and to sensationalize the already sensational story even further. Whatever its origins the letter gave us the name that would forever be associated with the Whitechapel Murderer - fuelling the fears of the public and the insatiable appetites of the world's Press in equal measure. The name conjured a dark and sinister image of a murderous folkloric figure akin to Spring-heeled Jack or Jack the Lad, that would find a place forever in English folklore, legend and myth - as well as the annals of criminal history.

      The menacing spectre of “Jack the Ripper” has stalked the pages of numerous works of fiction and the frames of many a movie. His persona and deeds have figured in countless games and have even been used as inspiration for songs and musical scores. His spectral presence has entered the collective unconscious - he haunts our nightmares and represents the ever-present fear of the deranged and evil killer. He has become the archetypal Serial Killer prowling the dark corners of the world - almost supernaturally swift and silent as he stalks the shadows and strikes with apparent impunity, free to commit the most horrifying defilements imaginable. Literally the last person on Earth you would want to meet in a dark alley.

Jack the Ripper signature on the Dear Boss Letter!
Jack the Ripper signature on the Dear Boss Letter!

The Enduring Mystery

The Late Victorian era saw the birth of the Mass Media Age. Accounts of the Ripper's crimes reverberated around the world, the mystery of the killer's identity tantalised millions of people and the shocking details of his crimes were a truly global phenomena. The world famous detectives of Scotland Yard apparently couldn't solve the case and the might of the Metropolitan Police Force patrolling the streets seemingly couldn't prevent the murders from happening.

      The Whitechapel Murders are the ultimate unsolved murder mystery - a perplexing who-done-it that vexes and taunts the curious even today. The cases' many stranger-than-fiction events, coincidences and characters have now fascinated and intrigued generations of would-be sleuths and professional criminologists alike.

Is he the Whitechapel Murderer - The Illustrated Police News, 1888!
Is he the Whitechapel Murderer - The Illustrated Police News, 1888!


Of course many have tried to solve the mystery of the Whitechapel Murders. Hundreds of books have been written and documentaries made, most proposing conflicting theories pertaining to the killer's identity and often getting into the realms of fanciful, sometimes even fantastical, speculation. Unfortunately serious and level headed examinations of the case can seem to be few and far between... but they do exist. Many serious Ripperologists are at work out there trying to uncover the truth - and its amazing how often new information or documents can come to light. The answer may still be out there... somewhere.

      Even if the truth will out, in the collective unconscious the anonymous “Jack the Ripper” remains, a demon created by a series of murders and the resulting fear of a city. Feeding off that fear and the hysteria of the media, his power is amplified until it resonates around the world and he insinuates a cold but fascinating grip on every one of us. Whether as an historic (or pseudo-historic) figure, a fictionalised character in a book or film, or as a figure from nightmares best forgotten, he is still with us all. If the Whitechapel murders are ever solved and the true identity of the murderer (or murderers) is ever found, “Jack the Ripper” will still stand there, knife in hand, haunting us always.

Other great resources for the study of Ripperology can be found in our list of Ripperology websites HERE and our list of Jack The Ripper documentaries HERE.

Buy the Latest Books about the Whitechapel Murders and Jack the Ripper from Amazon.co.uk or from Amazon.com.


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The Victims:

those who fell victim to the Whitechapel Murderer/s
The Witnesses:

those who witnessed key aspects of the Whitechapel Murders
The Suspects:

those who have been suspected of the Whitechapel Murders
The Investigators:

those who investigated the Whitechapel Murders
The Places:

the scenes of crime and related places of interest
The Clues & M.O.:

weapons used, trophies taken and the Modus Operandi
The Ephemora:

the letters, documents and other records
The Links:

websites concerning Jack the Ripper and the Whitechapel Murders
The Documentaries:

factual films & TV-shows investigating the Whitechapel Murders
The Movies:

fictional films & TV-shows inspired by the crimes of Jack the Ripper
The Fiction:

fictional accounts of the crimes of Jack the Ripper
The Reference Books:

factual accounts and reference works regarding the crimes
A Time-line:

a basic time-line of the crimes and related events
The ABYSS eBook:

A Chronicle of the Whitechapel Murders & the Origins of Jack the Ripper (soon)

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