Tag Archives: jack the ripper

THE PEOPLE OF THE ABYSS Liveblog Part 1 by Alan M. Clark

Jack_London_Bain_News_Service

Jack London (1876-1916)

In 1902, the year following the death of Queen Victoria , which of course ended the Victorian era, Jack London, disguised as one of the city’s poor, went to stay in the East End of London. He was there to get first hand experience of a place notorious for its crime, squalor, and increasing human degradation. At the time, London was the largest and wealthiest city in the world. His book, The People of the Abyss, a piece of investigative journalism, is his account of that experience.

The squalid conditions of the East End are enumerated in the Preface, painting a picture that provides me with eye-witness confirmation of much of what I’ve learned in researching the environment for my Jack the Ripper Victims series of novels, including A Brutal Chill in August, soon to be released by Word Horde in August. By 1902, fourteen years after the end of the JTR killings, the East End of London had become more dangerous, more densely packed with humanity than it had been in 1888.

In the first chapter, Jack London describes the difficulty he had in finding help in merely setting up his investigative endeavor. His friends, colleagues, and even those he tried to engage professionally wanted nothing to do with his effort for fear that he headed toward certain doom. Finally, he found a private investigator in the East End who agreed to vouch for him if his body were to turn up.  With that, Jack London bought second hand clothes of the ragged variety commonly worn by those in the area, and then disappeared into the East End.

At that point in his life, Jack London, born John Griffith Chaney, was a successful author. He’d done well selling his fiction to the growing magazine markets. For a quick biography of Jack London, try Wikipedia. Although an adventurous sort who’d been to sea, lived as a tramp, spent time in prison, been a laborer, and experienced his share of hardships in life, he currently wore nice clothing and could afford fine food and lodging.

He refered in the book to the difficulties Americans (I assume he means those identifiable as middle or upper class individuals) had visiting British and European cities without losing their shirts to the hordes who contrived assistance for the traveler and then expected gratuities for even the least effort. After shedding his finer clothes in favor of the common rags of the street, the unctuous bowing and scraping of the lower class and the poor, which of course was the vast majority of the population, ceased.

london_slumThe class system that still thrived in Europe, largely also existed in the United States, yet was tempered by the fact that we did not have a noble class, ruling aristocrats that earned their station merely by the accident of their birth. The gap between the haves and have-nots in both America and Great Britain was large, but no more so than in London. The Industrial revolution had led to large-scale unemployment, much the way the Tech Revolution has done in America and elsewhere today. During the bulk of the 19th century, the city of London, like large American cities at present, suffered from overcrowding and large numbers of unemployed and homeless. Those with little were careful not to displease the upper classes. Quite the contrary. The poor, referred to as “the unfortunate,” and the lower class, when in the presence of their “betters,” often effusively praised those of a higher class and pretended to defer to them in all things for fear of losing employment, reputation, or any other form of possible favor. Frequently, life, liberty, and access to shelter and sustenance depended on behaving that way.

Surely as one who had been a laborer of humble beginnings, Jack London knew quite well the social mechanisms involved, but the sudden contrast with merely changing his clothes—his costume so to speak—was so sharp-edged that he couldn’t help but take notice in his text.  Suddenly, the average person on the street was “real” with him.  He was treated as a regular guy, trusted with honesty and welcomed warmly into conversation and confidence. As downtrodden as many of the denizens of the East End were, they also had a hardy lust for life they willingly shared with one another.

Makes me wonder how many within the upper classes knew that such warmth and good feeling existed among common people—that sense of camaraderie within the struggle for existence—and if they knew, what they thought about it.

When I was still living in Nashville, Tennessee, where I grew up, I remember a middle-aged white fellow telling me that he’d gone to a church attended almost exclusively by black parishioners, and how surprised he was to see such a nice clean place, with all the people there happy and having a good time with one another. He probably didn’t realize that he sounded like a bigot to me.

Class barriers born of our strange need to stereotype still exist in the world today, ones meant to wall off the undesirable, having to do with anything from skin color, gender, sexual orientation, religion, to politics. Since the broader society often does not accept that such barriers should exist, silent conspiracies are required to build those walls.  They are more a product of personal opinion, less formalized and institutionalized than that of the class system of the Victorian period.

I do not know if the middle-aged fellow talking about the black church was a bigot. Perhaps he was just woefully ignorant. But I’d had such things said to me by people who looked me in the eye after speaking as if to carefully assess my reaction, I believe to determine if I was with them; to see if I thought the same way. I don’t tend to react well to people trying to make others into “Other.” I have seen some people respond positively to that sort of crap. When I do see that, I always feel a little dirty and have the sense that a silent conspiracy has just picked up a new member or that existing members have made themselves known to one another.

When Jack London stayed in the East End, the haves and have-nots were segregated—many public places didn’t allow access to those below a certain station. An establishment, like a tavern or inn, often had separate sections for classes to keep those of a higher station from suffering the proximity of those of a lower station. By saying, “suffering,” I’m being sarcastic for effect. Inevitably, the less fortunate and the poor had developed their own culture and shared little of it with the upper classes. Does that seem familiar? It’s a pattern of reaction that can be seen in numerous marginalized groups of minorities throughout the world. In the case of the London poor, though, they were in fact the majority.

I’m intrigued to read London’s honest words about it from so long ago.

Next post on Wednesday July 6, 2016 will deal with Chapter 2.

—Alan M. Clark
Eugene, Oregon

Get a free ebook copy of The People of the Abyss from Project Gutenburg—available in various formats including Kindle and Epub, : http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1688

Preorder A Brutal Chill in August A Brutal Chill in August by Alan M. Clark
Visit Alan M. Clark online: www.alanmclark.com

About Alan M Clark ControlledAccidentAutoPortrait

Author and illustrator Alan M. Clark grew up in Tennessee in a house full of bones and old medical books. His awards include the World Fantasy Award and four Chesley Awards. He is the author of seventeen books, including ten novels, a lavishly illustrated novella, four collections of fiction, and a nonfiction full-color book of his artwork. Mr. Clark’s company, IFD Publishing, has released 44 titles of various editions, including traditional books, both paperback and hardcover, audio books, and ebooks by such authors as F. Paul Wilson, Elizabeth Engstrom, and Jeremy Robert Johnson. Alan M. Clark and his wife, Melody, live in Oregon. www.alanmclark.com

Now Available for Preorder: Alan M. Clark’s A Brutal Chill in August

We all know about Jack the Ripper, the serial murderer who terrorized Whitechapel and confounded police in 1888, but how much do we really know about his victims?

Pursued by one demon into the clutches of another, the ordinary life of Mary Ann “Polly” Nichols is made extraordinary by horrible, inhuman circumstance. Jack the Ripper’s first victim comes to life in this sensitive and intimate fictionalized portrait, from humble beginnings, to building a family with an abusive husband, her escape into poverty and the workhouse, alcoholism, and finally abandoned on the streets of London where the Whitechapel Murderer found her.

With A Brutal Chill in August, Alan M. Clark gives readers an uncompromising and terrifying look at the nearly forgotten human story behind one of the most sensational crimes in history. This is horror that happened.

A Brutal Chill in August by Alan M. Clark

Watch the book trailer for A Brutal Chill in August, featuring the song “The Soul of You,” as sung by the Bonehill Ghost in the novel.

Preorder A Brutal Chill in August today!

Pub Date: August 30, 2016

Readers will also enjoy Alan M. Clark’s collaboration with Gary A. Braunbeck, “A Host of Shadows,” which appears in the Word Horde anthology, Tales of Jack the Ripper.

Beginning July 4, 2016, Alan M. Clark will be liveblogging Jack London’s The People of the Abyss, a piece of investigative journalism in which the author wrote of his experience living in the guise of an impoverished person in the East End of the city of London in 1902, fourteen years after Jack the Ripper terrorized the area. We’d like to encourage readers to track down a copy of The People of the Abyss and join us for the read-along.

Garrett Cook reads “Hello, Handsome” from Giallo Fantastique

Today is September 30, the 127th anniversary of one of the most brutal and audacious crimes in history, the Jack the Ripper murders known as the Double Event. The first Word Horde anthology, Tales of Jack the Ripper, explored this terrible crime in horrific detail, contemplating in multiple stories just what it is that drives someone to murder. Is it something within? Or is it something else entirely?

And so, as summer turns to fall and Halloween approaches, we thought we’d share a tale of murder and mayhem with you all. One that confronts that question head-on. With gloves off. Or on, as the case may be. Here is Garrett Cook’s “Hello, Handsome,” from Giallo Fantastique. Read live, with musical accompaniment by Erin Jane Laroue. Turn down the lights, sit back, and get ready for terror.

Photo by Nick Giampetro

Photo of Garrett Cook and Erin Jane Laroue courtesy of Nick Giampetro. Recorded live at The Hour that Stretches at the Jade Lounge, Portland, OR. Special thanks to Edward Morris.

Giallo Fantastique edited by Ross E. Lockhart

Click here to listen.

The Double Event

They called her Long Liz, but she had been born Elisabeth Gustafsdotter in Torslanda, Sweden. Life was hard for Liz, by the age of twenty-two she had already been arrested for prostitution in Gothenberg, treated twice for STDs, and given birth to a stillborn daughter. In 1866, Liz moved from Sweden to London, taking a job as a servant to a “foreign gentleman.” A few years later, in March of 1869, Liz married John Stride, and until 1875 the couple ran a coffee shop on Chrisp Street in Poplar. In 1878, two steam ships, the Princess Alice and the Bywell Castle collided in the Thames, killing between six and seven hundred people. Liz would claim that the maritime disaster had taken her husband and children, and also blame the accident for the loss of several of her teeth, as she had been kicked in the mouth attempting to climb the sinking ship’s mast to safety, but records show that John Stride actually died in 1884, so many theorize that Liz’s dramatic tale may have been a plea for sympathy. Regardless,Long Liz falls into a cycle of poverty, addiction, crime, and occasional charity until late 1888.

Late on September 29, 1888, Long Liz was seen drinking with a short, mustached man in a billycock hat and mourning suit at Bricklayer’s Arms Public House on Settles Street. It was raining that night, and witnesses reported that the pair were very physical with one another, kissing and embracing. As they left the pub, an acquaintance called out to Liz, saying, “That’s Leather Apron getting ’round you,” referencing the recent murders of Mary Nichols and Annie Chapman. At midnight, Long Liz and her companion may have stopped to buy grapes from Matthew Packer’s stall. If this detail is true, Packer would have been the last person, besides her murderer, to have seen Long Liz alive.

Catherine “Kate” Eddowes was born in Wolverhampton in 1842. She was educated in charity schools and workhouses until taking up with a young pensioner named Thomas Conway at the age of twenty-one. Though the pair never married, they did have three children together, and Kate had Thomas’s initials tattooed on her left forearm. The couple split up in 1881, and Kate took up with John Kelly, a man who worked odd jobs, but had a regular gig with a fruit seller. For years, when the season would roll around, the pair would go hop picking. But like many residents of Whitechapel, the couple were often hard up for cash.

Though Kate did not have a reputation for heavy drink, the evening of September 29 found her arrested for public drunkenness. Over the course of the day she had pawned a pair of John’s boots and attempted to visit her now-married daughter in hopes of getting a little bit of charity, only to discover that the daughter had moved. When asked her name by police, Kate responded “Nothing.” Hours passed, and at 12:55 am on September 30, Kate, now sober, told her jailers that her name was Mary Ann Kelly of 6 Fashion Street, and was released. At one in the morning Kate leaves the police station by a route which would take her home by way of Mitre Square.

Shortly after one am, the body of Long Liz was discovered in Dutfield’s Yard, off Berner Street. An artery in her neck had been severed. About fifteen minutes later, Kate Eddowes’ body was discovered nearby. Her throat had been cut and her abdomen ripped open, an ear severed, her uterus and left kidney removed, her intestines pulled free and draped across her left shoulder. A piece of graffiti, chalked onto a wall near where a bloodied piece of Eddowes’ apron was found read “The Juwes are not the men who will be blamed for nothing,” sparking myriad conspiracy theories.

The next day a mob took to Whitechapel’s streets, demanding that police bring the killer to justice. On October 1, a letter signed “Jack the Ripper” would arrive at the Central News Agency, taunting the police and revealing details that had not been released to the press. The letter read, in part, “you’ll hear about Saucy Jacky’s work tomorrow double event this time number one squealed a bit couldn’t finish straight off. ha not the time to get ears for police.” A couple weeks later, on October 16, president of the Whitechapel Vigilance Commitee George Lusk would receive a small cardboard box in the mail. Inside was a human kidney preserved in wine and a letter reading (in full):

From hell.
Mr Lusk,
Sor
I send you half the Kidne I took from one woman and 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 longer

signed
Catch me when you can Mishter Lusk

This post is brought to you by Tales of Jack the Ripper, an anthology of seventeen stories and two poems examining the bloody legacy of the most famous serial murderer of all time. Ask for Tales of Jack the Ripper by name at a bookseller near you, or order the Saucy Jack Deluxe Pack from Word Horde.

Tales of Jack the Ripper: Reviews Round-up

Tales of Jack the Ripper has been pulling in some outstanding reviews. Not bad for a book that’s only officially been out for less than two weeks. Here are just a few of the reviews…

JTRShelf

FEARnet.com‘s Blu Gilliand begins his review by asking the question, “is it okay to base a piece of entertainment on a real-life serial killer?” To find an answer, Blu takes an in-depth look at the anthology’s stories by Orrin Grey, Alan M. Clark & Gary A. Braunbeck, Joe R. Lansdale, Patrick Tumblety, and Walter Greatshell, then concludes, “What Lockhart has done with this anthology is to show that the Jack the Ripper story has grown far beyond who- or whatever murdered those women all those years ago. It’s become a myth, grounded in fact, and the reason it continues to hold power over us today is because we still don’t understand what happened, or why, and we likely never will. Stories like that are the stories that continue to frighten us, and until we can banish those shadows forever, there will always be writers wrestling with them on the printed page. Tales of Jack the Ripper manages to walk that fine line between entertainment and exploitation with real finesse. It’s a gripping group of stories about one of our most enduring mysteries, and well worth your time.” Read the full review at FEARnet.com.

At first concerned that he may not know enough about Jack to fully appreciate the anthology, SR Jones of Martian Migraine Press examines closely the tales by Ennis Drake, Pete Rawlik, Stanley C. Sargent, Ramsey Campbell, T.E. Grau, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Laird Barron, E. Catherine Tobler, Joe R. Lansdale, and Joseph S. Pulver, Sr. Admittedly thrown off by some of the anthology’s more experimental pieces, Jones awards Jack a five-star review, saying, “Editor Ross Lockhart (Book of Cthulhu and Book of Cthulhu 2, Chick Bassist) has done a stand-out job with Tales of Jack the Ripper. This one’s going out to certain names on my Christmas list, that’s for sure. You know the ones. With their ‘funny little games’. Recommended.” Read the full review at Martian Migraine Press.

Shock Totem‘s Mason Ian Bundschuh writes “There is a definite ‘weird tale’ edge to many of the stories (and poems) in the anthology, which in this reader’s opinion is a GREAT thing. It might even be expected from Lockhart, who also brought you The Book of Cthulhu and its follow-up, The Book of Cthulhu 2. This doesn’t mean you can pigeonhole Tales of Jack the Ripper.” Bundschuh singles out stories by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Ramsey Campbell, and Mercedes M. Yardley for their chilling excellence, concluding, “you need to get up off your lazy duff and buy this collection.” Read the full review at Shock Totem.

The Arkham Digest‘s Justin Steele ponders our societal fascination with serial killers and the Ripper’s legacy, finding insight in Orrin Grey’s tale “Ripperology.” Other stories considered and ruminated upon under Steele’s eye include those by Ramsey Campbell, Alan M. Clark & Gary A. Braunbeck, Joe R. Lansdale, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Ennis Drake, T.E. Grau, Ed Kurtz, Edward Morris, Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., Pete Rawlik, Stanley C. Sargent, Mercedes M. Yardley, and Laird Barron. Steele concludes, “Tales of Jack the Ripper marks a strong debut for Word Horde. Lockhart, in usual fashion, has managed to put together a strong, multifaceted anthology that explores the Ripper legend at length. If this book is indicative of what’s to be expected from his new press, than readers have much to look forward to.” Read the full review at The Arkham Digest.

Editor Ross E. Lockhart

The Arkham Digest have also just featured Steele’s interview with Tales of Jack the Ripper editor and Word Horde publisher/editor-in-chief Ross E. Lockhart. This interview includes not only insights into Lockhart’s aesthetic and goals in putting together Tales of Jack the Ripper, but a behind-the-scenes glimpse at Word Horde’s origins and future. Check out the full interview at The Arkham Digest.

This post is brought to you by Tales of Jack the Ripper, an anthology of seventeen stories and two poems examining the bloody legacy of the most famous serial murderer of all time. Ask for Tales of Jack the Ripper by name at a bookseller near you, or order the Saucy Jack Deluxe Pack from Word Horde.

Dark Annie

The black eye was healing, but still ached. Dark Annie had Eliza Cooper to blame for that. Something about a purloined penny, some stolen soap, and that handsome pensioner, Edward Stanley. The details were fuzzy for Annie sometimes, particularly when drink was involved, though the bruises were real. This had been a tough year. John had died on Christmas, drank himself to death, then Siffey left her once the money dried up. Annie had been forced to make her living where she could, and when embroidering antimacassars and selling flowers didn’t pay bed and board, she earned what she could on the streets. Her lungs ached, and she wanted one of her pills, but she was down to just two, secured in a corner torn from an envelope because her pillbox had broken. Friends called her Dark Annie because of her dark, wavy hair. In contrast, she was a pale woman with blue eyes, short and stocky. Annie was forty-seven years old.

It was just past midnight on Saturday, September 8, 1888. Annie shared a beer in the kitchen at Crossingham’s Lodging House with Frederick Stevens, then chatted with William Stevens, both fellow lodgers at Crossingham’s. She left for her room, but changed her mind and went out into the night. Around one-forty-five, Annie returned, eating a baked potato. She explained to lodging house deputy Tim Donovan and night watchman John Evans that she didn’t have her rent money, and asked that they hold her bed until she could earn enough on the street.

At five-thirty, Elizabeth Long, a cart-minder, was walking down Hanbury Street toward Spitalfields Market. The clock at the Black Eagle Brewery chimed as she passed No. 29 Hanbury Street, briefly making eye contact with Dark Annie, chatting up a dark, “shabby genteel” fellow in a deerstalker hat. Mrs. Long overhears their conversation as she passes, the man’s ardent “Will you?” Annie, in reply, whispered “yes.”

Elizabeth Long is the penultimate person to see Dark Annie alive.

Annie Chapman’s murder was particularly violent. Her throat had been cut from left to right. She’d been disemboweled, her intestines thrown over her shoulders. Her uterus had been cut out and removed from the scene. At the September 10 police inquest, Dr George Bagster Phillips described the murder weapon: “The instrument used at the throat and abdomen was the same. It must have been a very sharp knife with a thin narrow blade, and must have been at least 6 to 8 inches in length, probably longer. He should say that the injuries could not have been inflicted by a bayonet or a sword bayonet. They could have been done by such an instrument as a medical man used for post-mortem purposes, but the ordinary surgical cases might not contain such an instrument. Those used by the slaughtermen, well ground down, might have caused them. He thought the knives used by those in the leather trade would not be long enough in the blade. There were indications of anatomical knowledge…”

Police made several arrests following Annie’s murder, suspects included a cook, a butcher, and a hairdresser. But none of these panned out. The press, still reeling from the murder of Mary Ann Nichols, continued to sound an accusatory drum for Leather Apron, but within a few weeks, a new name would come to the forefront in the case, a named signed to a series of letters taunting the police. That name? Jack the Ripper.

Tales of Jack the Ripper

This post is brought to you by Tales of Jack the Ripper, an anthology of seventeen stories and two poems examining the bloody legacy of the most famous serial murderer of all time. Ask for Tales of Jack the Ripper by name at a bookseller near you, or order the Saucy Jack Deluxe Pack from Word Horde.

Polly

It was the proverbial dark and stormy night. Cold rain soaked London, lightning streaked a sky already lit orange by a pair of dock fires, and thunder rumbled menacingly. Despite the inclement weather, Polly Nichols, born Mary Ann Walker some forty-three years earlier, walked the streets of Whitechapel, hoping to earn enough to pay for that night’s lodging. Polly was pretty for a girl of the streets, looking a decade younger than her true age, with delicate features, frosted brown hair, and gray eyes. For the price of a large glass of gin, one could have Polly, if one were so inclined.

And gin was Polly’s vice. Her twenty-four year marriage to William Nichols–which had produced five children–had ended in 1881 over Polly’s drinking, and the next few years found Polly bouncing from home to home, including her father’s house, a cohabitation with a blacksmith named Thomas Dew, infirmaries, “sleeping rough,” and workhouses. In May 1888, Polly found a job as a live-in servant for Sarah and Samuel Cowdry, the Clerk of Works in the Police Department. In a letter to her father, Polly writes, “It is a grand place inside, with trees and gardens back and front. All has been newly done up. They are teetotalers and religious so I ought to get on. They are very nice people, and I have not too much to do.”

But the temptations of vice and drink prove too much for Polly, and in July 1888 she leaves the Cowdrys, stealing clothing valued at three pounds, ten shillings. Polly lives at one lodging house, then another, sharing rooms and paying her doss nightly. That evening of August 30 leading into the morning of August 31, 1888, Polly had already earned her keep and spent it on drink three times.

At two-thirty on the morning of August 31, Polly meets Emily Holland, a former roommate, who would later recall that Polly was “very drunk and staggered against the wall.” As they chat, church bells chime the half-hour. Polly staggers away, heading east along Whitechapel Road. Emily is the last friendly soul Polly meets.

At about three-forty, two men, Charles Cross and Robert Paul, discover Polly’s disheveled body while on their way to work. Her skirt is raised, exposing her. Cross is sure the woman is dead, but Paul believes Polly to be alive, breathing faintly. Paul rearranges Polly’s skirts to cover her and the two men seek a policeman.

Polly is discovered shortly thereafter by constable John Neil. He is soon joined by constables Thane and Mizen, the latter of which had been summoned by Cross and Paul. The policemen call Dr. Rees Ralph Llewellyn to the scene, and he pronounces Polly dead at 4:00. Time of death is estimated at 3:30.

Following the police inquest into Polly’s death, The Times reported: “There was a bruise running along the lower part of the jaw on the right side of the face. That might have been caused by a blow from a fist or pressure from a thumb. There was a circular bruise on the left side of the face which also might have been inflicted by the pressure of the fingers. On the left side of the neck, about 1in. below the jaw, there was an incision about 4in. in length, and ran from a point immediately below the ear. On the same side, but an inch below, and commencing about 1in. in front of it, was a circular incision, which terminated at a point about 3in. below the right jaw. That incision completely severed all the tissues down to the vertebrae. The large vessels of the neck on both sides were severed. The incision was about 8in. in length. The cuts must have been caused by a long-bladed knife, moderately sharp, and used with great violence.

“No blood was found on the breast, either of the body or the clothes. There were no injuries about the body until just about the lower part of the abdomen. Two or three inches from the left side was a wound running in a jagged manner. The wound was a very deep one, and the tissues were cut through. There were several incisions running across the abdomen. There were three or four similar cuts running downwards, on the right side, all of which had been caused by a knife which had been used violently and downwards. The injuries were from left to right and might have been done by a left-handed person. All the injuries had been caused by the same instrument.”

Rumors, compounded by the press, spread throughout Whitechapel, many blaming shoemaker John Pizer, a Polish Jew known as “Leather Apron.” Although there was scant evidence, Pizer was arrested and questioned, though he was released shortly after his alibi checked out. Pizer later sued at least one newspaper and won compensation over the paper’s libelous claims that he was the murderer.

As for the real murderer, Polly would not be his last victim. And soon, the world would know his name.

Tales of Jack the Ripper

This post is brought to you by Tales of Jack the Ripper, an anthology of seventeen stories and two poems examining the bloody legacy of the most famous serial murderer of all time. Ask for Tales of Jack the Ripper by name at a bookseller near you, or order the Saucy Jack Deluxe Pack from Word Horde.

Who Murdered Martha Tabram?

The night of August 6, 1888 in London’s Whitechapel district was dreadfully cold, windy, and rainy, so Martha Tabram spent the evening drinking at the Angel and Crown alongside her friend Pearly Poll and a pair of soldiers the two had met. Drink was a constant companion in Martha’s life; her husband Charles Tabram had left Martha over alcoholic fits in 1875, and her relationship with Henry Turner had just ended over money problems in July. So Martha and Poll got by amid the squalor and poverty by turning tricks in the world’s oldest profession.

At 11:45 that night, Martha and Poll left the pub with the soldiers, Poll taking one of the men up Angel Alley, Martha leading her soldier to George Yard, an alley off Whitechapel High Street. At about five in the morning on August 7, dockworker John Saunders Reeves discovered Martha’s body as he was leaving for work and called a neighbor, cab driver Albert George Crow, who had seen Martha’s body upon returning home from his shift at about 3:30 that morning, and dismissed it as just another sleeping vagrant.

The men called Dr. Timothy Robert Killeen to the scene. Dr. Killeen determined that Martha Tabram had been stabbed thirty-nine times with a short knife in the throat, lungs, heart, liver, spleen, stomach, abdomen, and genitals. Dr. Killeen estimated that Martha had been killed between 2:00 and 3:30 that morning. Residents denied hearing anything unusual. The police investigated, questioning an uncooperative Pearly Poll, but uncovered no solid leads. On August 23, an inquest into Martha’s death was held, and deputy coroner George Collier determined that she had been murdered by person or persons unknown.

On August 31, 1888, after another Whitechapel prostitute, Mary Ann Nichols, was killed, the London press began to draw connections between the two murders. Though the MO was different–Tabram had been stabbed with a short blade; Nichols’ throat and body were slashed with a long, sharp knife–could the same killer have been responsible for both women’s deaths? And was there a connection to the April 3 murder of yet another area prostitute, Emma Elizabeth Smith? Today, Nichols is considered the first canonical victim of Jack the Ripper, whereas Martha Tabram is largely forgotten, a footnote in a case that would grip the public’s imagination and inspire storytellers for the next 125 years.

Did Jack the Ripper murder Martha Tabram? The experts disagree. What do you think?

Tales of Jack the Ripper

This post is brought to you by Tales of Jack the Ripper, an anthology of seventeen stories and two poems examining the bloody legacy of the most famous serial murderer of all time. Ask for Tales of Jack the Ripper by name at a bookseller near you, or order the Saucy Jack Deluxe Pack from Word Horde.