In autumn 1888, five women in east London slums died at the hands of an unknown man. The murderer became known as ‘Jack the Ripper’ a now legendary name that still haunts London’s streets today. On 5 October 1888 this letter was sent anonymously to the City of London Police accusing the actor Richard Mansfield of perpetrating the murders. Mansfield was at this time playing the dual role of Jekyll and Hyde on the London stage. His ability to transform himself from esteemed doctor to gruesome criminal shocked audiences and added fuel to the ways in which Stevenson's novel, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and the real-life murders became confused in the public imagination.
The letter reads: ‘I should be the Last to think because A man take A dretfull Part he is therefore Bad but when I went to See Mr Mansfield Take the Part of Dr Jekel and Mr Hyde I felt at once that he was the Man Wanted … I do not think there is A man Living So well able to disgise Himself in A moment …’
- Article by:
- Greg Buzwell
- The Gothic, London, Fin de siècle
The Victorian period saw Gothic fiction evolving and taking on new characteristics. With a focus on the late 19th century curator Greg Buzwell traces common themes and imagery found in Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Dracula and The Picture of Dorian Gray.
- Article by:
- Judith Flanders
- Crime and crime fiction, London
The unidentified killer known as Jack the Ripper murdered a series of women in the Whitechapel area of London during 1888. Judith Flanders explores how the excitement and fear surrounding the mysterious murderer made its way into late-Victorian literature.