Nineteenth-century London was probably one of the wealthiest cities. Though, the east-end area showed a striking contrast; it was poverty-ridden, overpopulated, and was notorious for crime and violence.
Skilled immigrants, mostly Jews, and Russians had settled in this part of the city to earn a livelihood. The violence and the struggle against poverty and hunger in this area had not prepared them for what was to follow.
A series of killings began in August 1888, when at least five female prostitutes were mutilated and killed. This incident overshadowed the day-to-day violence of the city. The first victim, Mary Ann Nichols, was murdered on the 31st of August.
Some believe that Martha Tabram, stabbed to death on the 6th of August, was the first victim. This was followed by the murder of Annie Chapman on 8th September. Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddoweson were killed on 30th September, and the killings stopped with Mary Jane Kelly on the 9th of November. These five cases are referred to as the ‘five canonical’ Ripper murders.
No one knew who was responsible for these brutal killings. Several letters were received by The London Metropolitan Police Service, which was signed by ‘Jack the Ripper.‘
This gave the faceless murderer a name though it could not be confirmed if the letters came from the killer or if it was just a reporter’s work. The media gave this story huge coverage, and the incident which happened in the least important part of London became a worldwide sensation.
Why did these murders become so popular? Nineteenth-century was a time when female prostitutes were referred to as the ‘ladies of the night,’ and they were not to be discussed in the polite society. Violence against them was common and was not taken any action against. Emma Smith was raped and beaten by four men, but that did not cause any stir.
Jack The Ripper became so popular because he was not a careless killer. He mutilated the bodies of the women he murdered. This showed how he was knowledgeable when it came to human anatomy. He was suspected to be a butcher or a doctor. His work was smooth, and he knew the place very well.
We still do not know who this man was and what his motive was. The killings stopped within a few weeks and left the people unanswered and petrified. Those who were suspected included Aaron Kosminski, Thomas Cutbush, and Montague John Druitt.
Prince Albert Edward Victor and Aaron Kosminkski, a Polish immigrant, were suspected too. The police were criticized for not being able to catch the killer. They were left confused by Jack The Ripper. The Criminology and Forensic departments were also not very developed then.
Jack The Ripper has been the topic of discussion in news and living rooms for more than 120 years. Movies and TV shows have been made based on his story.
His real identity and motive remain a mystery. However, this incident brought the East End area before the eyes of the world and people were shocked to see its social condition. Philanthropists helped develop this place and do away with the poverty and violence.