Pen & Sword Review: ‘The Hidden Lives of Jack the Ripper’s Victims’, by Robert Hume

The Hidden Lives of Jack the Ripper's Victims
ISBN: 9781526738608
Published: 18th September 2019

Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly are inextricably linked in history. Their names might not be instantly recognisable, and the identity of their murderer may have eluded detectives and historians throughout the years, but there is no mistaking the infamy of Jack the Ripper.

For nine weeks during the autumn of 1888, the Whitechapel Murderer brought terror to London’s East End, slashing women’s throats and disembowelling them. London’s most famous serial killer has been pored over time and again, yet his victims have been sorely neglected, reduced to the simple label: prostitute.

The lives of these five women are rags-to-riches-to-rags stories of the most tragic kind. There was a time in each of their lives when these poor women had a job, money, a home and a family. Hardworking, determined and fiercely independent individuals, it was bad luck, or a wrong turn here or there, that left them wretched and destitute. Ignored by the press and overlooked by historians, it is time their stories were told.

The Rosie Synopsis

This book provides individual chapters with biographies of the five known victims of the Whitechapel Murderer of 1888. Each chapter gives the details of the women’s early lives and the events that lead up to ending up in Whitechapel in 1888.

The Good

Introductory, potted histories, with some social context. The author is compassionate about the women and their lives. He manages to make them more than just ‘prostitutes’ as they are often depicted.

The Not-So-Good

Still focused on the fact that some of the women had to take part in survival sex work. There wasn’t much focus on the social conditions.

The Verdict

Nice introductory text as a starter, before you jump into The Five.

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