**Eight little whores, with no hope of heaven, Gladstone may save one, then there’ll be seven.**
Jack the Ripper: Letters from Hell
Stewart P. Evans & Keith Skinner
(CUP) As prostitutes are found murdered and brutally mutilated from August to November of 1888 in London’s East end, the legend of Jack the Ripper is born.
Over a hundred years later, determining who created the legend is still as elusive as the Ripper himself. Was Jack the Ripper a psychopath who hated prostitutes and loved to cut them up? Was the Ripper a prankster who loved manipulating the police and the media? Or was it the media itself that bore the Ripper? And why was he or she never caught?
We’ll probably never know. Yet, fascination with the Ripper remains — new books are continually published looking into the mystery, and the current movie “From Hell” is near the top of the box office.
**…Before another month she will be mutilated in a cruel manner, but I can’t help that…”**
The legend of the Ripper is built on correspondence. Scotland Yard has collected over 220 letters related to the case, and no one knows exactly who wrote them.
“There is strong evidence that suggests that the first Ripper letter, which gave the name Jack the Ripper to the world, was probably a press invention, written by one of the journalists at the Central News Agency just to keep the story going, so they could sell more newspapers,” says Stewart Evans, a Jack the Ripper expert who doesn’t believe the Ripper wrote any of the letters.
**…Am trying my hand at disjointing, and if I can manage it will send you a finger…**
Evans, along with co-writer Keith Skinner are the first people outside of Scotland Yard allowed to view the letters.
“To go to Scotland Yard and look at the original letters was amazing! It was fascinating to think that these actual letters had been penned over 100 years ago at the time of the murders; some of them were amazingly obscene. You would never believe they were written in Victorian times, some are very obscene and grisly.”
Included in the collection is the famous ‘From Hell’ letter (from which the movie takes its name), which is splattered in blood and accompanied by half a human kidney.
**…I shall send you the kidney and c**t so that you can see where my prick has been up…**
While there is no solid evidence proving who the Ripper is, there are many suspects: Dr. Robert Donston Stephenson, a patient in a London hospital, who wrote to the police about the murders when they were happening; Montague John Druitt who committed suicide just after the November 1888 murder of Mary Kelly. Then there’s the ‘midwife’ or ‘June the Ripper’ theory, which proposes that the killer was a knife-happy woman who was carrying out illegal abortions.
The theory commonly used in movies, including “From Hell,” is the Royal Masonic Conspiracy, which suggests that after Prince Albert secretly married a prostitute, a group of Freemasons got together to eliminate the prostitutes who witnessed the marriage.
Evans worked as a historical advisor to the recent movie, and he was pleasantly surprised by the knowledge of the cast of the Hollywood blockbuster.
“Johnny Depp himself was really quite interested in the story and he’s a really nice guy –very well read and he certainly knew quite a lot about the case.”
**…This is to give you notice that I intend to rip your little fat belly up next week…**
Evans himself believes that the killer was Dr. Francis Tumblety, an Irish-American doctor with IRA connections who fell in love with a woman who turned out to be prostitute. Tumblety came to England just before the murders started, and left just after the murders stopped. He was an abortionist in the 1850s in Toronto and Montreal; he was arrested for performing an illegal abortion in Montreal in September of 1857. He also reportedly had a fascination with the womb and kept a few in jars in his office. Three of the murdered women’s wombs appeared to be the Ripper’s main target. In two cases, the Ripper removed the women’s wombs, taking them with him.
**…I murdered a woman last night and have cut off her womb. I shall send it by parcels post…**
The era of the tabloid press made Jack the Ripper the first internationally famous serial killer.
“The case was reported in the American press just as it was in London. It was the first time that the world saw a series of murders get so much publicity, probably so much misconceptions and mad theories about mad doctors and crazy sailors, lunatics of every sort, Jewish slaughtermen. The legend just kept growing, and still is.”