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Today's post continues my observance of the 125th anniversary of the Autumn of Terror, and it also offers another "This Day in Spooky History" installment of my Halloween countdown.

On this day in 1888, George Lusk, then the head of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee in London, received a package containing a letter allegedly written by the serial killer known as Jack the Ripper. The missive later became known as the "From Hell Letter." It was accompanied by a small box containing half of what doctors later determined was a human kidney, preserved in ethanol, which may have been taken from Ripper victim Catherine Eddowes. Many investigators, researchers, and historians agree that, of the many so-called "Ripper letters," this is the one most likely to have been penned by the real murderer.

300px-Vigilancecommittee


The letter read as follows (sic):

From hell

Mr Lusk

Sor
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 longer.

signed
Catch me when
you Can
Mishter Lusk.


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* Read more about the alleged Ripper letters here at Casebook: Jack the Ripper and here at Wikipedia.
* Read reviews of Jack the Ripper: Letters from Hell (by Stewart Evans and Keith Skinner, 2001), which reproduces and transcribes the letters (mis)attributed to Jack the Ripper, including the 'Dear Boss' correspondence and the 'From Hell' letter. "The authors relate the letters to the complete story of the Whitechapel murders, tracing the hysteria and misconceptions that dogged both the police and Fleet Street during 1888-9 and providing revealing insights into the Victorian psyche. For the first time the cases of three people arrested by the police for sending 'Jack the Ripper' letters are explored, including that of Maria Coroner, the attractive 21-year-old Bradford girl. Evans and Skinner also examine the letters of seven suspects, including Dr. Roslyn D'Onston Stephenson and Nikaner Benelius. The story of the Ripper letters ends by posing a controversial question: was Jack the Ripper merely a press invention?"

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
splix
Oct. 16th, 2013 02:14 pm (UTC)
This is weird, but I'm kind of entranced by that penmanship. :)

ETA: So THAT'S where the title to "From Hell" came from! The more you know.

Edited at 2013-10-16 05:24 pm (UTC)
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 17th, 2013 04:24 pm (UTC)
This is weird, but I'm kind of entranced by that penmanship. :)

I know exactly what you mean. It's rather fascinating, isn't it?

So THAT'S where the title to "From Hell" came from!

Yes indeedy! Clever, isn't it?

mosinging1986
Oct. 16th, 2013 03:16 pm (UTC)
It continues to be horrifying how this evil man has become a celebrity.
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 17th, 2013 04:27 pm (UTC)
I very much value the continued historical investigation into the crimes and the times in which they occurred (a sort of watershed moment from an intellectual history angle), and I understand why the larger public consciousness is haunted by unsolved mysteries such as this one. But I shudder at the thought of putting the criminal on a pedestal somehow. Eek!
alivion
Oct. 16th, 2013 03:35 pm (UTC)
So "women" used as the singular isn't an invention of youtube commenters after all.
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 17th, 2013 04:28 pm (UTC)
::cackles::

It's been horrifying the grammatically sensitive (and correct) for over a century, it seems.
cookiefleck
Oct. 17th, 2013 12:23 am (UTC)
Re the spelling errors... are they (a) the spellling of the time, (2) deliberate attempt by the author to appear uneducated, or (3) genuine errors made by the author?
eldritchhobbit
Oct. 17th, 2013 04:31 pm (UTC)
You've cut to the heart of the mystery! The spelling of the time was rather irregular, to be sure, but it seems the real question is whether this reflects (2) or (3). The scholars are still quite divided in their conclusions.
cookiefleck
Oct. 17th, 2013 04:36 pm (UTC)
Ah, interesting that it's still a subject of speculation after all these years!
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )