Jack the Ripper tour 2019

The Whitechapel murders

In Adrian Room’s An A-Z of British Life (1990: 184) one can read that Jack the Ripper was “the nickname given to the undiscovered murderer of at least seven women in London in 1888.” The number seven might be a bit too high, but it is sure that he killed at least five prostitutes and mutilated four of them brutally. The so-called “canonical five” are Mary-Ann “Polly” Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly. They were murdered in London’s East End, which “was at one time famous for its docks […] and notorious for its slums” (Room 1990: 110). The East End, especially the district of Whitechapel, where “nearly two-thirds of its population lived below the poverty line, while 13 per cent faced daily starvation” was the perfect place to commit these crimes. It was a place, where “prostitution and crime were inseparably linked” (Evans & Rumbelow 2006: 37).

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