This dramatic illustrated front page purports to tell the story of the so-called Whitechapel Murders: a series of fatal knife attacks on East London women that had claimed six lives to date. The most recent victim was Catherine Eddowes, a sometime prostitute, who had only been released from jail for drunkenness when she was set upon and disembowelled.
On 1 October the London Central News Agency received a postcard from the apparent killer, describing the murder of Eddowes and that of Elizabeth Stride earlier the same evening as ‘a double event’. The card was signed ‘Jack The Ripper’ – sealing forever in the public imagination the legend of the first modern serial killer.
The Whitechapel Murders cover a period from 1888 to 1891, and took the lives of eleven women. Most historians and forensic experts now agree that ‘The Ripper’ only accounted for five of the victims, with those killings coming in a concentrated spree between August and October 1888. At the time, however, there was no such certainty, and the Whitechapel Murders saw the resignation of the head of the London Metropolitan Police, the drafting of 143 extra policemen to Whitechapel, and the rise of private citizen militias to patrol the streets after dark. None of the Whitechapel Murders has ever been solved.