Wednesday, 24 April 2013

The Monster of Berkeley Square

My latest book: The Monster of Berkeley Square: A Ghost Story, is available to buy now from Amazon

It has been quite a while since I last updated this blog, and I have not done so for two reasons.

Firstly, I really did not feel as if I had much more to say about 1888 anymore. I had addressed most of the characters and events of the story and started to worry that to write any further would inevitably give away a little too much of the plot (including the final identity of Jack himself.)

Secondly, and more importantly, I have been working on my next book, a very different kind of tale - still set in Victorian London, but in many ways a very different world.

While 1888: A Jack the Ripper Novel is a completely stand alone book, it is still part of what I regard as a very loose series of Victorian mysteries, beginning in the winter of 1855 with The Devil's Walk to the autumn of 1888 and the Jack the Ripper Murders, stopping in between for the summer of 1880, and the terrifying haunting of a house in Berkeley Square.

There is no single storyline connecting these three tales, but some characters from each make an appearance, or are referenced across the series, in an attempt to suggest the passage of time (or perhaps, as Jim Crawford of "The Devil's Walk" would put it, "The extinction of time with every passing moment.") Think of them, if you will, as a triptych. They each stand alone as individual pieces, but together, the three compliment and add to each other.

The Monster of Berkeley Square is, like my previous two novels, based upon a true occurrence. However, unlike 1888, which was meticulously, almost obsessively devoted to capturing the minutiae of the known details of Whitechapel and its denizens, my latest effort is a much freer, brisker affair.

Those unfamiliar with the legend of 50 Berkeley Square will likely find research into the case thwarted by legions of conflicting stories of just what happened in that house, and when. Depending on the source, the supposed haunting lasted no more than a decade, others longer than a century. Some will claim that two people lost their lives to the phantom that lived within the walls of the house, others claim many more.

It is this fogginess of history which has allowed me the greatest amount of freedom as far as my writing is concerned, and as such, I believe it may prove to be my most surprising novel yet...

In writing this book I was able to introduce a completely invented family into the house, along with their staff of servants. This elegant, very ordinary household setup then became a joyful playground in which to introduce the staples that have fascinated me about the period, and have so far lasted me through three books (class inequality, exploitation of the poor, debauchery, offbeat sexuality) and to mix them with the stories of the "Most Haunted House in London" - as it came to be known.

Through the story of one family and its servants, I invited as many of the spooky tales from that household, some from the past and some from the time (1880) and even found room in this slender volume to feature a character from 1888 who really did live on Berkeley Square that year (it is testament to the unfairness of Victorian society, and the ruinous effects of gin how this character found herself in 8 short years moving from one of the most salubrious addresses in London, to the very worst.)

Berkeley Square is, just as it has always been, one of the most beautiful and moneyed areas of the city, and the house in which my story is set (number 50) is believed to be one of the oldest unchanged buildings in London. Nowadays it is one of the finest antiquarian bookshops in the world (and from my limited knowledge regarding such things, probably the most beautiful.)

The haunting, whether you choose to believe it was real, or entirely fabricated has not troubled the house in over a century, but the story of the ghosts in the attic, the tragic fates of many of its residents and the terrifying menace that was said to be enough to cause a man to lose his mind were he to set his eyes upon it, have not been so quick to leave.

The Monster of Berkeley Square: A Ghost Story is my attempt to write just that; a tale in the  intoxicating spirit of Victorian ghost stories, of gas lit rooms at night, flickering candelabras, the squeak of a floorboard when nobody is there.

A story that, I hope, will give my readers just what they want from a good old fashioned ghost story - raised hairs on the back of the neck, and perhaps even a troubled night's sleep or two!

Yours truly,
Charlie Revelle-Smith.

P.s. What next for Mr. Revelle-Smith? Though it is in its infancy, the fourth book is already taking shape. I don't want to give away too much, but I can say I will be completing a full cycle of seasons with a tale set in spring. It will be my first not set in Britain as well as my first outside of the Victorian era, in the first decade of the 20th century.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Mary Jane Kelly: The Final Victim

1888: A Jack the Ripper Novel is available to buy from Amazon now


In writing a Jack the Ripper novel, I knew that there would be some aspects of the story that I would find incredibly difficult to write. The murders are an obvious example of this but some of the sex scenes, especially those bordering on rape, proved to be equally problematic.

However, there was only one chapter that was removed completely. Not entirely for reasons of taste, but because the disturbing nature of the passage could easily be misconstrued to mean the opposite of what I intended.

The chapter in question concerned the abortion performed by Frances Tumblety on Mary Jane Kelly. There is every reason to suspect that terminating pregnancies may have been one of the very few medical procedures Dr. Tumblety was actually capable of performing, and the proliferation of rumours that Kelly was pregnant when she was murdered (yet no evidence of this was found at her autopsy) led me to conclude that perhaps she had had an abortion sometime beforehand.

Abortions were a messy, painful, nasty affair. Despite urban legends of back street terminations requiring a wire coat hanger, the procedure was more often than not carried out by injection of either a bleach or a strong alkaline through the abdomen (if the pregnancy was relatively early on).

The traumatic effects upon the womb were so intense that it rendered many women infertile (which may go some way to explain why none of the victims of Jack the Ripper had birthed any children since becoming prostitutes).

It was a brief but sensationally nasty chapter that made me wonder instantly about the limits of what I was comfortable writing. It was one thing to fictionalise historic facts on the Ripper case, it was quite another to invent such a shocking scene to make a point.

My main worry when I had finished was that this horrible account could be taken as my attempt to grandstand against abortions - the kind of fanciful, repellent tactic favoured by "pro-life" activists. In fact, I was attempting to do the opposite.

By describing, in horrible detail, the reality for women living in an age before legal abortion, my intention was to underline the importance of the procedure - and how it would still happen (albeit, more painfully and traumatically) even if it was against the law.

This small but significant about-face for me came to signify so many things about the character of Mary Jane Kelly I wanted to portray.

She is one of the greyer characters of the novel. Her intentions and actions never seem entirely noble, yet she is by no means a wicked figure. Throughout the course of the book, we trace her journey from love-struck girl - afraid of shadows and gathering mist, to desperate whore and finally, murder victim.

None of the canonical five victims are featured as much as Kelly. She is introduced in the fourth chapter of the novel and the book concludes shortly after her death. Yet, I intentionally kept her aloof. We know hardly anything about the life of Mary Jane Kelly and as such, she would remain as enigmatic a mystery on the pages of my story as she would be to history.

What is known is that she was born sometime in 1863 in Limerick, Ireland into a "well-to-do" family. She was educated and could read well. Her lover at the time of her death, Joseph Barnett claimed that she would often read aloud the newspapers for him.

By 1879, she was (alleged to be) married to a miner in Wales who died in a mine explosion. Shortly afterwards she moved to London, whereupon she all but vanishes from the record books until her death.

What is known about her comes almost entirely from the recollections of Barnett, and his truthfulness, or ability to recollect have certainly come under scrutiny over the past century and a quarter, especially as they are fraught with proven historical inaccuracies. Although, this may not necessarily be his fault, as it is quite possible that Kelly was lying to him throughout their rocky relationship.

According to him, Kelly had the nickname of "Ginger" which has led many to believe that she was a red-head but her autopsy noted that she was dark of hair - ginger was at the time seen as an exotic, exciting and expensive spice so this may go some way to explain her name - and suggest her reputation.

At the time of her death, she had been involved in a tumultuous relationship with Barnett for over two years. The pair had continually separated over his jealousies concerning her prostitution. Barnett struggled to support them both, but his job as a market porter gave the couple very little money at all (by the time of her death, Mary Kelly was 12 weeks behind on the rent for her room).

On the night of her murder, Mary Kelly had been seen drinking into the early hours and was singing in the street at 2AM. It is hard to ascertain precisely when she invited Jack the Ripper back to her tiny Miller's Court room, as witness reports vary - most probably owing to her being so far in debt that she had to take several men back to her home that night.

What happened to her in that little room, still remains one of the most horrifying murders in the history of the world. All the more shocking with the knowledge that whoever committed this crime, would go to his grave without ever having been caught.

Yours truly,

Charlie Revelle-Smith.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

The Torso Killer: The Other 1888 Mystery

1888: A Jack the Ripper Novel is available to buy from Amazon now

Throughout writing this blog, I have continually referred to the "Canonical Five" - Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly as being the victims most ripperologists agree were killed by Jack the Ripper.

However, this is a fairly modern assessment and many other investigators would suggest that the actual murders he committed over the course of 1888 and the following three years, could be as staggeringly high as 12.

In fact, it is rather strange to think that although we often imagine Mary Ann Nichols to the be the first of the victims, the people of Whitechapel actually believed her to be the third at the time, following on from the stabbing murders of Martha Tabram and Emma Smith.

In 1888, these killings are mentioned, but to keep things in the realm of the familiar, the story does not begin until the night of the Nichols slaying, and concludes with the morning of the Kelly murder. With the death of Mary Jane Kelly, we often imagine a sigh of relief being heard across the East End, but in truth, there would be a further five killings in and around the district before the murders finally stopped.

In fact, there may have been another serial killer operating in London at the same time, and he, just like the Ripper, would never be caught.

In one of the later chapters of the book, Gina and Aaron, who have taken to walking alongside the north bank of the Thames, find themselves stumbling out of the home of one mystery and inadvertently into another.

On the morning of October 2nd, 1888, a builder working on the construction of the new Scotland Yard headquarters, made a grisly discovery. In the foundations of the building, tucked away in a closed vault and wrapped in paper and petticoats, he found the dismembered remains of a woman's torso.

Police eventually matched the torso to a right arm and shoulder that had been found on the banks of the Thames in September of the same year. The police had not bothered investigating this initial find as (like so much concerned with the crimes of that year) it was dismissed as a prank by medical students. Police would later locate a left thigh near the scene of the construction site, but the remaining limbs and head were never found.

The case was strikingly similar to another discovery which had occurred in May of 1887, when fishermen on the Thames found a bundle of cloths floating in the water. Upon hauling it aboard, they were horrified to realise it contained the torso of a woman.

Over the following two months, limbs were found washed up along the shoreline of the river. Yet again, no head was ever found.

It would be 1889 before another discovery was made. On June 4th 1889, just as the people of London were beginning to hope that the murders and mutilations that had blighted their city had come to an end, another torso was found washed up on the edge of the Thames, while more remains were discovered near Chelsea.

On September 10th of the same year, on the first anniversary of the murder of Annie Chapman, another torso was discovered. Not in the Thames this time, but in the heart of Whitechapel. It had been left under a railway bridge on Pinchin Street and bloodied clothing was discovered in nearby Batty Street.

All four of these murders demonstrated a similar level of medical skill. It often seemed as if the wounds had been tourniqueted to prevent excessive blood loss and some knowledge of surgical amputation was evident.

Years previously, in 1884, 1874 and 1873, similar finds were washed up along the Thames. Nobody was ever arrested for these crimes and only one of these women was ever identified - a prostitute from the East End.

With this flurry of violent crimes over a relatively brief space of time, it is easy to understand just how difficult it must have been to know where one cycle of violence began and another ended. The inclusion of the Thames Torso Murders in my novel was one way to help demonstrate that nobody at the time could have known who was responsible for which crime.

It also helped to highlight another theme of my book. These unidentified women became a symbol of neglect and how in a city like London, it was possible to become so utterly forgotten that even your body would lose your identity.

The police could not help. Perhaps my depiction of them throughout 1888 is somewhat exaggerated, but the torso killings really did highlight the police's reluctance to take murder seriously, or, in the words of the officer who tells Gina to leave:

"Do not be out after dark, do not be out alone and whatever you do, do not expect the police to protect you.” 

Yours truly,
Charlie Revelle-Smith 

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Jack the Ripper and the Birth of the Tabloid Press

1888: A Jack the Ripper Novel is available to buy from Amazon now

Jack the Ripper has proven a fruitful stimulus for writers over the years, to the extent that the field of fiction on the case has become a crowded place, even spawning its own subgenres within the story, such as modern day Ripper novels, supernatural Ripper novels and perhaps most ubiquitously, Sherlock Holmes investigates the Ripper novels.

The first idea I had for my book, which would hopefully allow the story to stand out on its own and tell a different tale, was rather an odd one. Originally, there was to be no Jack the Ripper and the canonical five victims would each be murdered by a different person.

The figure of the Ripper itself was to be an invention of the contemporary press, so eager to report on the killings that they created him themselves, or at least the idea of him. In many ways this was quite similar to my first book, The Devil's Walk, where the real threat is not the event itself, but the reaction to it; and how an invisible enemy can cause widespread hysteria.

This couldn't work. Nobody wants to read a Jack the Ripper novel which doesn't even include the man himself and the entire concept became somewhat preposterous, (there is a good reason to suspect that Liz Stride was not a Ripper victim, but then, there is also good reason to suspect that Martha Tabram was.)

What this stage of my research did help with, was making me acutely aware of how the press operated at the time - and how the birth of the tabloid on the streets of London would change British journalism from the time of the autumn of terror to the Leveson Inquiry.

It was this research that shaped the form of my novel more than anything else. The short, sensationalist articles mirrored the reportage style of the time and came to mirror the chapters of my book; each instalment was meant to be like peering through a window into a world you were not meant to see, full of salacious behaviour, scandal and of course, that staple of every tabloid paper, sex.

The term tabloid was born around 1888, but initially to describe a small type of pill available at Buroughs Wellcome Company - a London pharmaceutical manufacturer that would later become GlaxoSmithKline. The earliest record of it being applied to newspapers comes from 1901 and it's easy to see how this easily swallowed tablet came to refer to that most digestible form of journalism.

In 1888, the only newspaper predominantly featured is "The Star." This was a real paper from the age but every article featured in the course of the novel is either a complete fabrication, or a rewritten version of the original. The reason for this was simple, I wanted a paper that had the authentic ring of the age, but also articles that referred directly to the story I was telling. So wild was the speculation of these news sources that it was very hard to locate articles that reported what had actually happened, rather than baseless accusations and condemnation of the police.

The other reason that I used "The Star" is because it is the only paper from the time that really had its comeuppance. Pizer sued the publication that year for libel and won what was probably a substantial amount.
The biggest change in journalistic ethics during this time was pioneered by "The Star." In lieu of any actual events to report upon, coverage became speculation, rumours were recounted as facts and every terrible detail was covered with terrible relish.

Perhaps the most damning example of this lapse in standards are the allegations that a great number of the two hundred or so letters handed to the police over the  course of the crimes, came from journalists themselves - who were literally creating the news only to cover it later on.

The autumn of 1888 would change the standard of British journalism forever. To look back over the records of media coverage of the crimes is to find pages and pages of daily reportage that amounts to next to nothing. For the first time, journalism was no longer dictated by what had actually happened, but by what the public wanted.

This stain continues to blight the papers of today, with allegations of phone hacking, stolen emails and the shadowing of celebrities by journalists who are eager to feed an insatiable public what it craves - stories of missing white girls, celebrity breakups and murder.

This approach clearly worked. Perhaps the most depressing aspect of reading the real "Star" articles is how often they are celebrating another day of their "greatest ever distribution."

Narrative stories and editorial comment took over from news coverage and it is a trend which continues even now. This depressing, distressing culture of gutter journalism is one way in which Jack the Ripper continues to haunt British culture to this day.

Yours truly,
Charlie Revelle-Smith.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Aaron Kosminski: The Gentle Madman

1888: A Jack the Ripper Novel is available to buy now from Amazon

While I was writing 1888, a German sailor by the name of Carl Feigenbaum was gaining traction in popular culture as a potential Ripper suspect. I had read Trevor Marriott's book "Jack the Ripper: The 21st Century Investigation," and as happens almost every time I finish a compelling Ripper book, I am convinced that the killer has been caught, but then in the days and weeks that follow, I am less certain. The same thing happened with me, James Maybrick and "The Diary of Jack the Ripper," - a text now so ludicrously, obviously, embarrassingly forged that I can only feel ashamed of myself.

Nevertheless, Marriott was not the first to suggest Feigenbaum, who had been executed in New York for murdering a woman in 1896 and my book was to feature as many suspects in one form or another, so the mysterious seaman was given a few cameos as a dangerous figure with a hair-pulling fetish, in hopes that those closely following would find another suspect to cross off the list.

Another suspect who was to have a similar treatment was Aaron Kosminski, a name known to all ripperologists, despite there not really being a shred of evidence against him.

Initially, Kosminski's involvement in the book was to be a brief sighting, whereupon Gina, waking to the sounds of his screaming one morning, decides to try to talk to him, rather than shoo him away as she usually did. During their brief chat, Kosminski would begin masturbating in front of her and the disgusted young woman would volley a barrage of abuse at him.

The chapter wasn't working very well, especially as no matter how I wrote it, Gina was coming across as incredibly cruel for verbally abusing a mentally ill man. I began thinking about the two of them and how in many ways they were very similar. Neither had any family to speak of, both were drifting through Whitechapel with nothing to hold them down and of course, both were close enough in age that a much more interesting dynamic would be for the two of them to become friends.

As is true of so many immigrants from the time, not a huge deal is known about Kosminski's early life, (although, at least one website will gladly provide you with a thorough origin story, including tales of early violence and incest;  all compelling until you realise the story - and indeed the entire website, is a fabrication intended to accuse Jewish people of every single bad thing that has ever happened in the history of the world.)

We do know that he was born in Klodawa, Poland, on the 11th of September, 1865 and that his father was a tailor. He and his family emigrated to London while Kosminski Jnr was 17, whereupon, he began work as a barber in Whitechapel.

Sometime around 1885, at the age of 20, Kosminski began suffering severe mental problems, which took the form of hallucinations and extreme paranoia. In my novel, it is revealed that this insanity came on in an instant and did not let up, however, it is more likely that his illness took a cyclical course where he would sometimes be near well, othertimes, he would have to be institutionalised.

Accounts of Kosminski eating only waste food and showing no revulsion of doing so alongside rats, led me to create a completely fictitious pet for the man, in the overstuffed form of "Crumbs" (formerly, also known as "Kosminski.")

After rewriting his initial chapter, and completing an outline for a fuller story arc for him. My plan was that I would attempt to recast Kosminski as a madman, but a gentle one. A distant, somewhat alarming figure who many people feared but in truth, was a sympathetic gentleman who was as kind to animals as he was other people and was desperately in need of a friend to save him from his fits of madness.

That said, Kosminski retains his love of public masturbation, as Gina discovers the first time she meets him, (only this time to her bemusement, rather than her horror.) When Kosminski was admitted to Colney Hatch Insane Asylum in 1891, it was for the vice of "self abuse" that had him locked away for three years. In my retelling of his character, Kosminski is very much an adult with the mind of a child. He has the same urges and desires, but his mind is not sophisticated enough to understand the difference between public and private. In fact, he does not fully understand the concept of personhood at all, often struggling to remember that other people are not him, or that the world around him is not an extension of himself.

Poor Aaron Kosminski was only 54 when he died in Leavesden Asylum. A medical check before his death had his weight at only 44 kilograms (96 pounds.) By his later years he had refused all food other than that he could find himself, having grown completely paranoid about taking food from others. It is quite possible that he starved himself to death.

Kosminski's notoriety comes thanks to an 1894 memorandum written by chief constable Melville McNaughten, in which a number of contemporary suspects are named. "Kosminski" is listed, although no first name is given.

He is suggested again in 1910 in the memoirs of Robert Anderson, but again, no first name is given but it is stated that Kosminski was institutionalised, and it was not until almost 100 years after the autumn of terror that ripperologist Martin Fido searched the asylum records to discover the Aaron Kosminski who is now so central to the Jack the Ripper mythology.

Whether the Kosminski named in 1894 was the same Aaron Kosminski discover in 1987, will never be known. There was certainly a violent patient who had been sent to an asylum at about the same time who went by the name of "Kaminsky" for whom McNaughten could have been mistaking him, as there is no evidence that Aaron Kosminski was dangerous to anyone besides himself.

Whoever he was, within the pages of 1888, my readers will find a much kinder, compassionate portrayal of this elusive man and one which I believe is likely closest to the truth.

Yours truly,
Charlie Revelle-Smith

Monday, 2 July 2012

1888: The Trailer

After the idea first struck me, yesterday evening while cooking dinner, a trailer for my book has come to fruition.

The results, I hope, are suitably chaotic to the point of being deranged and have been a labour of love for the past 24 hours, (most of it spent searching for the perfect carillon music!)

Yours truly,
Charlie Revelle-Smith

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Catch Me When You Can

1888: A Jack the Ripper Novel is available to buy now from Amazon

Even people who know "nothing" about Jack the Ripper, seem to know a good bit of the details of the crime.

There are, of course, exceptions. Some people may believe they know more about the Ripper than they actually do. One such example happened a few years back when I was getting off the tube train at Baker Street. For those who have never been, Baker Street station has large tile murals of Sherlock Holmes in silhouette along with information about Arthur Conan Doyle's most famous creation.

I was walking behind a young girl and her father, when she asked him, "Who is Sherlock Holmes?"

"He was the policeman who caught Jack the Ripper." was his reply; a sentence that is so riddled with errors, that it is almost impossible to know quite how to begin correcting it.

However, most people will be able to tell you some facts. Jack the Ripper killed prostitutes in Victorian London, he was never caught and he wrote letters to the police, taunting them and giving them clues.

These letters have proven to be one of the most compelling aspects of the mystery. There were over 200 hundred sent during the autumn of terror and the following years and almost all of them have been discredited as fanciful hoaxes from duplicitous members of the public, or even newspaper journalists eager to print the next installment of this baffling saga.

A handful however, cannot be dismissed outright and a couple made it into 1888, mostly because they had proven to be the most interesting historically.

The first such letter was sent to the Central News Agency of London on 27th of September, 1888. The two page letter was written with such a precise hand, some believe that it may have been copied down from another source. The opening line "Dear Boss," would give the piece of evidence its title.

"Dear Boss,
I keep on hearing the police have caught me but they wont fix me just yet. I have laughed when they look so clever and talk about being on the right track. That joke about Leather Apron gave me real fits. I am down on whores and I shant quit ripping them till I do get buckled. Grand work the last job was. I gave the lady no time to squeal. How can they catch me now. I love my work and want to start again. You will soon hear of me with my funny little games. I saved some of the proper red stuff in a ginger beer bottle over the last job to write with but it went thick like glue and I cant use it. Red ink is fit enough I hope ha. ha. The next job I do I shall clip the ladys ears off and send to the police officers just for jolly wouldn't you. Keep this letter back till I do a bit more work, then give it out straight. My knife's so nice and sharp I want to get to work right away if I get a chance. Good Luck. 

Yours truly
Jack the Ripper

The "Dear Boss" Letter

Dont mind me giving the trade name

PS Wasnt good enough to post this before I got all the red ink off my hands curse it No luck yet. They say I'm a doctor now. ha ha"

(For the eagle of eyed among my readers, yes, the sign-off at the end of this letter is why I end my blog posts in the manner I do.)

The letter itself was thin on details and very few historians believe that it actually came from the pen of the Whitechapel murderer. However, with this letter, the country had a name to give this most elusive killer. I wanted to include this letter simply for that reason, and also because in doing so, I could finally begin referring to the killer as "Jack the Ripper" in the narrative.

The second letter included in my novel was to become known as the "From Hell" letter and in many ways is a much more startling piece of evidence.

In reality, as in the book, the letter was received at the house of George Lusk, head of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee. Unlike my book, Lusk was slow in believing it to be genuine and actually had to be talked into handing it to the police. The most striking aspect of the letter is the garbled, misspelled scrawl of text - an inconsistent sort of illiteracy in which the writer is incapable of correctly spelling "nice" but is aware that "knife" begins with a silent "k."

It arrived just over a fortnight after the "Dear Boss" letter and was somewhat unique in regards to not using the term "Jack the Ripper" - which all of the hoax letters sent in that duration were wont to do.
The "From Hell" Letter

"From hell
Mr Lusk
I send you half the
Kidne I took from one women
prasarved it for you tother piece
I fried and ate it was very nise. I
may send you the bloody knif that
took it out if you only wate a whil

Catch me when
you Can
Mishter Lusk.

Most chilling of all, the note was sent with the remains of a human kidney. What may be the most infuriating aspect of the case is that the kidney itself, though preserved in formaldehyde at the time, has been lost from the police records. Were it still in the possession of the police, it could have been possible to test the remains for DNA and then could be matched against the living relatives of Catherine Eddowes, thus proving if the letter was indeed genuine.

There was another letter sent a couple weeks later to Thomas Horrocks Openshaw, a surgeon who had worked on the case for some time. The letter has some superficial similarities to the "From Hell" letter, but I have yet to be convinced that they are from the same person, and not simply someone writing intentionally poorly with their non-dominant hand.

Whatever the truth, I did not think for a moment that I could write a Jack the Ripper novel and not include one of those pieces of information everybody (save for perhaps, that gentleman at Baker Street Station) knows to be part of the case.

I suspect that in truth the "From Hell" letter may have been a more elaborate than usual hoax from a medical student at the time, but we can never know for sure. In my book, we are never really certain and as with so many aspects of this crime, the uncertainty is what keeps the mystery alive.

Yours truly,
Charlie Revelle-Smith.