'Jack the Ripper' is the pseudonym given to an unidentified serial killer (or killers) active in Whitechapel in London in the second half of 1888. Some believe that the name was invented by journalists in a bid to sell more newspapers, although it was also reported that name was given by someone claiming to be the murderer in a letter to the Central News Agency.
The Whitechapel murders were not the first serial murders in London but they were the first to create a media frenzy.
The Illustrated Police News was a penny weekly tabloid which dealt with crimes, disasters and society scandals. It regaled readers with detailed accounts and illustrations of the Ripper's crime scenes and the failure of police to catch the killer. The story featured on 184 of its covers in the four years after the last murder.
In 1855, newspaper stamp duty was abolished. This was a tax on newspapers, established in 1815, which had made it difficult for many people to afford buy a newspaper. The abolition of the tax enabled the publication of cheaper newspapers with wider circulation. As a result penny tabloids flourished in the late Victorian era.