During the Jack the Ripper murders of 1888, hundreds of letters were sent to the police and local press claiming to be written by the killer. Many of them are considered to be fakes probably written by the public or even reporters hoping to keep the story alive to sell more papers.
You have probably heard of the famous ‘Dear Boss’ letter, which first introduced us to the name of Jack the Ripper, as well as the infamous ‘From Hell’ letter which came packaged with part of a human kidney. Whether or not these were penned by the mysterious killer, these Jack the Ripper letters, as well as the others received by the press and authorities, certainly made for a compelling story that has lived on for more than a century.
With hundreds of supposed Ripper letters having been received throughout the timeline of the infamous murders, officials were able to conclude with reasonable certainty that not all were the work of the killer. Journalists were suspected of penning fakes, while others were sent in by mischievous fraudsters following the publication of the first four letters by police. Whilst modern technology and techniques have evolved to help sort the fact from the fiction, back in Victorian London, these methods were not available, and police had to rely on much more basic means.
So, how many letters did Jack the Ripper write? Following analysis on 209 Jack the Ripper letters conducted at the University of Manchester in 2018, most were found to have been written by different people and, therefore, labelled as hoaxes.
Whilst there are many fakes, there are some which have been considered as genuine over the last 130 years, and a considerable amount of research and debate has focused on these letters. It is these that are most worth the attention and have captured the imagination of Ripperologists for more than a century in an attempt to piece together one of the most infamous murder mysteries in the United Kingdom, if not the world.
Our casebook looks at these particular letters and leaves it open for you to decide whether they are genuine or not. Were these letters penned by one of history’s most infamous villains, toying with the press and police, or are they nothing more than the presentation of someone’s sick fantasy which, ultimately, helped the killer to avoid justice for the heinous crimes committed? Read the notorious ‘Dear Boss’ and ‘From Hell’ Jack the Ripper letters, as well as the ‘Saucy Jack’ and lesser known ‘Have You Seen the Devil?’ letters, and draw your own conclusions on their legitimacy.