Jack the Ripper historian slams ‘stupid’ and ‘offensive’ trolls

Jack the Ripper historian slams ‘stupid’ and ‘offensive’ trolls who likened her to a holocaust denier after she wrote a book challenging the belief that his victims were all sex workers

  • Hallie Rubenhold is the author of the controversial novel, The Five: The Untold Lives of Women killed by Jack the Ripper, which rewrites traditional narrative
  • Says three of the five women killed were not prostitutes and some were mothers
  • Miss Rubenhold said the most popular victim was Mary Kelly due to her youth 

A Jack the Ripper historian has revealed she was likened to a holocaust denier after publishing a book on his victims.

In her controversial novel, ‘The Five: The Untold Lives of Women killed by Jack the Ripper, Hallie Rubenhold argues that the traditional narrative of all the women being prostitutes is incorrect.

She reveals a different side to the women – some of whom had children and were also trying to cope with severe illness and alcoholism.

The five Ripper victims were Mary Ann “Polly” Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly. Each had their throats cut and four had their entrails removed during his three-month killing spree that began in 1888.

In her controversial novel, ‘The Five: The Untold Lives of Women killed by Jack the Ripper, Hallie Rubenhold (left) argues that the traditional narrative of all the women being prostitutes is incorrect. Pictured with Lesley Garrett at a Jack the Ripper panel discussion

Miss Rubenhold said the best-known and most popular of the victims was Mary Kelly – because she was beautiful and young which allowed for an element of titillation.

After arguing that three of the five were not sex workers, Miss Rubenhold received an ‘absurd’ amount of backlash from Ripper fans, known as ‘Ripperologists’.

At the Hay Festival she was asked to elaborate on the response to her book.

‘I knew it was going to be controversial, but I had no idea how controversial,’ the author said.

‘There are people out there who feel they have ownership over these women’s stories. And that fulfils an orthodoxy – we’ve spent years and years of our lives reading about this and these are facts.

She reveals a different side to the women - some of whom had children and were also trying to cope with severe illness and alcoholism

She reveals a different side to the women – some of whom had children and were also trying to cope with severe illness and alcoholism

‘If I question those facts, god have mercy on me. The response I’ve had to this has been unbelievable.’

Miss Rubenhold explained that some people accused her of ‘willfully’ hiding facts and being part of a larger conspiracy.

‘People have accused me of suppressing evidence,’ she said. ‘That I’ve wilfully hidden things that are fact – never mind the fact my book is filled with footnotes. So that makes absolutely no sense.

‘I’m part of some big conspiracy now to hide this, because I have an agenda. I have an agenda because I’m a feminist.

‘[They think] I set out to write this book in the most cynical way possible which is “I know, let’s make Jack the Ripper work for the Me Too age.” Well, Me Too hadn’t actually happened when I started writing the book.

‘And the other thing I’m getting is that people are saying to me I’m doing a gross disservice to these women, because actually they were all prostitutes and I’m hiding the evidence.

‘I’m saying that three of the five weren’t sex workers and I’m lying [they say], and therefore I’m being unfair to these women. It’s absolutely insane.’

After arguing that three of the five were not sex workers, Miss Rubenhold received an ‘absurd’ amount of backlash from Ripper fans, known as ‘Ripperologists’

After arguing that three of the five were not sex workers, Miss Rubenhold received an ‘absurd’ amount of backlash from Ripper fans, known as ‘Ripperologists’

She said she was even likened to David Irving, an English author and holocaust denier who argued in his books that Adolf Hitler did not know about the extermination of the Jews.

‘It’s absolutely absurd,’ she said. ‘And it’s offensive. It’s laughable. The amount of trolling – it’s constant.

‘The other thing – the two hour podcast – where I was compared to David Irving, the holocaust denier. Saying that my level of dishonesty matches his. I mean, come on.’ 

From hell: The infamous serial killer who terrorised Victorian London

Jack the Ripper is thought to have killed at least five young women in Whitechapel, East London, between September and November 1888, but was never caught.

Numerous individuals have been accused of being the serial killer.

At the time, police suspected the Ripper must have been a butcher, due to the way his victims were killed and the fact they were discovered near to the dockyards, where meat was brought into the city.

There are several alleged links between the killer and royals. First is Sir William Gull, the royal physician. Many have accused him of helping get rid of the alleged prostitutes’ bodies, while others claim he was the Ripper himself.

A page from the Illustrated Police News page covering the the murders of Jack the Ripper

A page from the Illustrated Police News page covering the murders of Jack the Ripper

A book has named Queen Victoria’s surgeon Sir John Williams as the infamous killer. He had a surgery in Whitechapel at the time.

Another theory links the murders with Queen Victoria’s grandson, Prince Albert Victor, the Duke of Clarence.

At one point, cotton merchant James Maybrick was the number one suspect, following the publication of some of his diary which appeared to suggest he was the killer.

Some believe the diary to be a forgery, although no one has been able to suggest who forged it.

Other suspects include Montague John Druitt, a Dorset-born barrister. He killed himself in the Thames seven weeks after the last murder.

George Chapman, otherwise known as Severyn Kłosowski, is also a suspect after he poisoned three of his wives and was hanged in 1903.

Jack the Ripper is thought to have killed at least five young women in Whitechapel, East London, between September and November 1888

Jack the Ripper is thought to have killed at least five young women in Whitechapel, East London, between September and November 1888

Another suspected by police was Aaron Kosminski. He was admitted to Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum and died there.

Dr Thomas Neill Cream poisoned four London prostitutes with strychnine and was hanged in 1892.

Some of the more bizarre links include Lewis Carroll, author of the Alice in Wonderland books, who taught at Christ Church until 1881 – which was at the forefront of the Ripper murder scenery.

Winston Churchill’s father – Lord Randolph Churchill – has also been named as a potential suspect.

Crime writer Patricia Cornwell believes she has ‘cracked’ the case by unearthing evidence that confirms Walter Sickert, an influential artist, as the prime suspect. Her theories have not been generally accepted.

Author William J Perring raised the possibility that Jack the Ripper might actually be ‘Julia’ – a Salvation Army soldier.

In The Seduction Of Mary Kelly, his novel about the life and times of the final victim, he suggests Jack the Ripper was in fact a woman.

Police discovering the body of one of Jack the Ripper's victims, probably Catherine Eddowes

Police discovering the body of one of Jack the Ripper’s victims, probably Catherine Eddowes

In February 2019, it was suggested that Jack the Ripper may have been a sinister Dutch sailor who murdered two ex-wives in his homeland and bludgeoned to death two other women in Belgium.

Crime historian Dr Jan Bondeson has named Hendrik de Jong as a prime suspect for the most notorious set of unsolved murders in history.

At the time of the Whitechapel murders, de Jong is believed to have worked as a steward on board a ship which made frequent trips from Rotterdam to London, providing him with the perfect means of getting out of the country after his heinous crimes.

He later murdered two of his ex-wives in his native Netherlands in 1893 and bludgeoned to death two women above a pub before attempting to set their bodies on fire in Belgium in 1898.

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