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On 'Redchapel' and the Memory of Jack the Ripper

Time Enough

"Enthusiastic Cis Male Partner"
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A very interesting and poignant point here. Books like The Five or Maus by Art Speigelman do something that we constantly forgot when looking at atrocities of any scale really.

In general I’ve noticed my attempts at Alternate History can get lost in the big scale and my successful stories have been the ones that wrangled that with the small scale too.
 

Charles EP M.

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Also a reminder of how what we think we know can be upended - it's only recently a historian's proven three of the victims weren't prostitutes, something that completely upends various history books and a full half of fiction about Jack the Ripper where them being sex workers is part of the plot or themes (sorry, From Hell)
 

Persephone

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Also a reminder of how what we think we know can be upended - it's only recently a historian's proven three of the victims weren't prostitutes, something that completely upends various history books and a full half of fiction about Jack the Ripper where them being sex workers is part of the plot or themes (sorry, From Hell)
Do you have a link to this? Not doubting the veracity of it, but I'm a fan of Ripperology in general, so new evidence is always nice!
 

M_Kresal

I am nerd, hear me bore.
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It's the book I mention a lot in the article - The Five: the Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold.
A book that I’m in the middle of reading at the moment (well listening to thanks to having time to start it on my recent vacation, read by Louise Brealey aka Molly from Sherlock) in part because of your recommendation in the Book Bistro and one of our fellow Warped Factor scribes raving about it on Facebook when it came out. It’s been a sobering, enlightening, and even moving experience thus far.
 

SenatorChickpea

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A really strong article Alex, and not just because- as always- you're too kind to me.

I've said this on the site before, but I once spent a year in Spitalfields living in a building that had been a house for poor women of the East End in the late nineteenth century. One of the five spent one of her last nights there.

I didn't realise this at first- I spent the first week or so trying to work out why some of the street names were jogging my memory, where I'd heard of the pub at the end of the street- the Ten Bells- before.

And then the tours came past. Every evening. Some were harmless enough, but I always remember the posh boys in top hats, putting on their best East End accents. Some held lanterns, even in the fucking summer. 'Picture it, ladeez and gen'lemen, picshur the 'orrible scene,' they'd say in voices with about as much resemblance to any local dialect as a corgi to a mastiff.

But the worse thing was the audiences. I saw hen parties! Hen parties, taking a break from getting shit faced in Shoreditch for a tour of murdered women! I saw parents taking their kids on the damn things.

Kids are naturally going to be interested. Fine. I was! I read about this stuff when I was ten. But there's a difference between a kid's fascinated interest in horror as indulged by something like Horrible Histories, and actually taking your nine year old daughter to listen to a description of the disembowelment of Mary Kelly!

And what struck me was that all the tours asked the audience to imagine that they were Jack. They'd describe the scene from the killer's view.

Five murders. Five deaths. All reduced to cheap voyeurism.

The Ripper killings are fascinating- and there's certainly a case to be made for how certain crimes become emblematic of something other than mundane horrors, of how they become representations of something that's rotting in the greater society. Without wanting to belabour the point, this week I'm sure I'm not the only person who's been thinking about the late Sarah Everard, for instance.

And I'm not even saying that we can't simply enjoy a grisly story. I think From Hell is a great work of fiction because it expertly marries a broader argument about social injustice in late Victorian Britain with a cracking pulp horror. Zodiac does something similar.

But there's a point- and the Ripperology industry long since reached it- where the corpses are being fed again and again into a tourist industry that indulges our worst impulses.


It reminds me of @David Flin talking about how the Krays- in life, but I would add in death as well- have been transformed into a kind of glamorous dark edge to Swinging London, where their brutality is romantic because it's such a wonderful contrast to the life of their celebrity friends!
 
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