When one hears the term "Victorian", many images come to mind. For some, the term conjures up visions of lace and gloves and delicate fans. Others think of tight corsets and even tighter morals. Others, swayed perhaps by one too many British costume dramas, envision gentle elegance and long lost beauty. Naturally, few people think of multiple dead bodies cast about in the streets or dark bedrooms, most mutilated to a shocking degree, and yet, those tragic images played a significant role not only in late Victorian London but ever since. In 1888 and 1889, a killer stalked the dark backstreets of the city through the notoriously overcrowded and crime-ridden Whitechapel district, murdering young women and then cutting their bodies up like a butcher.
There have been a countless number of serial killers throughout history, and certainly more prolific ones, but the timing, circumstances, and unsolved nature of the case continue to make Jack the Ripper the most famous serial killer in history. The murders came at a time when media coverage could be both more acute and more widespread, and it allowed the public a closer look into how police agencies operated at the time, exposing both their strengths and shortcomings.
©2016 Charles River Editors (P)2017 Charles River Editors