Should The Tourist Industry Be Making Money From Jack The Ripper?

By Londonist Last edited 10 months ago

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Should The Tourist Industry Be Making Money From Jack The Ripper?
Busch Gardens Williamsburg - Jack the Ripper by Brian Holland on Flickr under a Creative Commons License

We need to talk about Jack.

Jack the Ripper is a nebulous East End tourist attraction, responsible for tours around Spitalfields most evenings, as well as the infamous Jack the Ripper Museum. The chain of barber shops named after him and the chip shop displaying Ripper graffiti demonstrate his ubiquity in popular culture.

He was also responsible for the murder of at least five working class women.

In the midst of the tourist industry hype, it can be easy to forget that the man known as Jack the Ripper was a murderer. The official number of victims is five, but it could be much higher.

Does the tourist industry around these murders disregard the lives of impoverished Victorian woman? Is ‘Ripperology’ — the amateur study of Jack the Ripper and his crimes — a useful piece of historical enquiry or a morbid and misanthropic pastime?

Join Londonist and a panel from the 'Ripper world' on 28 September to have a conversation about Jack the Ripper: man, myth, history or misogyny?

On the panel are:

  • Fern Riddell — a cultural historian specialising in entertainment, sex, and the suffragettes in Victorian and Edwardian Britain. She works on the BBC series Ripper Street as Women/Sex/Music Hall historian and consultant.
  • Philip Hutchinson — a longstanding Ripper historian who has been guiding Jack the Ripper tours for over 13 years. He is the author of The London of Jack the Ripper Then and Now, and The Jack the Ripper Location Photographs: Dutfield’s Yard and The Whitby Collection.
  • Sarah Jackson — co-author of Voices From History: East London Suffragettes and joint founder of the East End Women's Museum which opened partly as a response to the opening of the Jack the Ripper Museum.
  • Wynne Weston-Davies — author of The Real Mary Kelly. He studied Anatomy as his specialisation for his Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS). He was a Demonstrator of Anatomy at St Mary's Hospital and also taught dissection of the human body. He is possibly great nephew of Mary Kelly, perhaps the Ripper’s last victim.
  • Scott Wood (chairing) — irregular writer for Londonist and the author of London Urban Legends: The Corpse on the Tube, in which he discusses Ripper mythology. He is also co-founder and host of the London Fortean Society.

Our London Talks: Jack the Ripper and the East End takes place on 28 September, 7.30pm-9.30pm at Oxford House Theatre, Derbyshire Street, E2 6HG. Tickets are £7 (plus booking fee) and can be booked in advance here.

Last Updated 22 September 2016