The Playwright and the Killer: The Connection between the Jack the Ripper Murders and Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray”

Oscar Wilde spotted on Warren Street

Appeared originally in Ripperologist no. 144/June 2015

Additional bonus material to chapter 3.2 of my book London and its genius loci – a journey beyond time and place

In a post in the Jack the Ripper Casebook forum dated 18 February 2008 someone going by the username Serena stated that she had heard ‘that there was an alleged connection between Jack and Oscar Wilde and that Wilde knew his identity and mentioned who he was in Dorian Gray’. Serena then asked: ‘Unless I am missing something, can anyone shed light on whether this is true or total fantasy?’[1]

There are many rumours in Ripper literature and the Internet about this question. But, is there really some sort of connection between Jack the Ripper and Oscar Wilde? Did Wilde know who the Ripper was? Did he hint at the Ripper’s identity in his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray? Was Wilde himself the Ripper?

„The Playwright and the Killer: The Connection between the Jack the Ripper Murders and Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray”“ weiterlesen

London and its genius loci – a journey beyond time and place (2019)

London and its genius loci - a journey beyond time and place
My new book is published by Büchner-Verlag.

If you want to explore the powerful and mysterious place that is London, Philipp Röttgers suggests two particular ways: through literature and through becoming a flaneur.
In seven narrated walks which cover different parts of London, Röttgers leads us to places which are both real and star in works like Iain Sinclair, Alan Moore and Ben Aaronovitch, Neil Gaiman, Peter Ackroyd and many others. Follow him into the heart of darkness, into the area of Jack the Ripper, to the churches of Nicholas Hawksmoor, and along the routes of “From Hell”. Meet William Blake and walk along “Ripper Street”. Discover London’s ‘genius loci’, its ‘spirit of place’.
In addition to these scenic walks, Röttgers gives a comprehensive overview of how London, in the past and present, has been depicted by writers.

Philipp Röttgers, M.A., born in 1989, feels deeply connected to London, more than to any other place in the world. He is an expert in the capital’s (and Britain’s) literature and culture (he studied English literature and culture accordingly). Röttgers is also a “Ripperologist” (and was already featured in the magazine of the same name). He is an expert on the works of London-related authors such as Peter Ackroyd, Iain Sinclair, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and Ben Aaronovitch. Philipp is also an expert on London-related tv shows like Whitechapel und Ripper Street.

THE PLAYWRIGHT AND THE KILLER by Philipp Röttgers
THE PLAYWRIGHT AND THE KILLER by Philipp Röttgers

Reviews

“Röttgers offers some new aspects and tours that are worth a try”
Petra Breunig of diebedra.de!

Reader’s Favorite Book Review

In London and Its Genius Loci, Philipp Röttgers takes the reader on a tour of London like no other. The approach is two-fold. As Röttgers explores contemporary London and muses upon her historical quirks, he also attempts to detect less corporeal influences. He speculates about how her structure and shadows are touched by the tragedies they bore witness to and reimagined by the stories invented to explain them.

Step by step, word by word, he calls up an imagined landscape that superimposes over what we know and learn of the physical London. It begins in the East End, the epi-center of Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror. There is a side order of likely suspects and other Victorian killers before we move on to the buildings of Nicholas Hawksmoor and visit the place where east meets west and the doorstep of Sherlock Holmes, among others. The quest for clues ultimately leads into the city’s fictional doppelgangers, as defined by Peter Ackroyd, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, and Ben Aaronovitch.

Like London itself, the vastness of the topic is overwhelming and the term genius loci itself resists definition. At times it is as ephemeral as the fog. Perhaps it is different for each individual, which is why it’s so vital that Röttgers shares his own experience of London in a series of detailed self-guided tours. The undercurrent of misogyny at the heart of so many portrayals of London could (and should) make you uncomfortable, but the author links it to a more primordial struggle – that of Mother Nature against Father Progress, of chaos against order.

By implication, London’s authors become co-creators of its psychic impact on the consciousness of mankind. Although not always an easy read, London and Its Genius Loci by Philipp Röttgers is likely to stay with you. Its reasoning will slip into your mind. It will challenge you to continue applying its conclusions to other stories of London. It will feel as if you’ve been let into a secret world which you can never again unsee.

Reviewed by Carine Engelbrecht for Readers’ Favorite

Review by Claudia Colia for the City Guide magazine (issue 146 – Summer 2020)

Review by Claudia Colia for the City Guide magazine (issue 146 - Summer 2020)
Review by Claudia Colia for the City Guide magazine (issue 146 – Summer 2020)

Interested?

Buy the book here.

London and its genius loci: A journey beyond time and place

Tours

From 2020 onwards, I also lead walks through London. Get in touch with me via mail and we can find a date and a time.

My tours include: A Jack the Ripper tour through the East End, a tour through the City and more. If you have a special interest, let me know, then I can arrange a tour including special sites and interests.

Philipp Röttgers at Christ Church, Spitalfields and The Ten Bells pub
Philipp Röttgers at Christ Church, Spitalfields and The Ten Bells pub

Tour reviews

“Philipp is an expert with a lot of knowledge about this special topic and talked freely throughout the whole walk”

“It was a lot of fun. History became very real, because we went to the different crime scenes. It felt like going back in time. Phil explained everything in great detail and presented the history in a very comprehensible way.”

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