Jack the Ripper
Final exam: 5/10 short answers 1/3 essay.
Late 19 century London
Part 1: the economy
.great depression 1873-1896. Bad period for agriculturalists and businessmen. Generally a good period
for the working class but class antagonism increased. Free trade, increasing of refrigeration led to high
imports that impacted agricultural sector in Britain declining it and forcing people into the cities to look
for work. This increased the vulnerable population of the city which led to crime. Businesses were hard
hit because industries were doing well which caused business sector to lose money. Middle class
stopped spending as much on charity leading to poor being more disadvantaged.
Part 2 trade unionism and class conflict
.trade unions were active in Britain from the mid-19 century. Were giving an agency to the working
classes. 1880s a new form of class conscious trade unionism emerges. Fear of socialist revolution 1886
riot in Trafalgar square, because of unemployment terrorizing the west end of London which increased
the public perception that crime was on the rise and that the unemployed were becoming a problem.
(feb 6). 1887 unrest peaks with bloody Sunday. 2000 police officers broke up a public demonstration
with over 100 casualties. Increasingly a distinction between east and west end (East is poverty, west is
respectable middle-class) 1888: case of Bryant and may match girls. The girls who made matches for
Bryant and may organized a successful strike. Next year dock workers went on strike and won their case
for an 8 hour day. People were starting to make gains for working conditions. 1893: the independent
labour party is established by keir hardie (later becomes the labour party), working class voice in the
form of socialism. Workers were demanding organization, conditions and votes. Fear of jack the ripper
was larger than a fear of a psychopath but also about fears of the working class.
Part 3 social reform
Social reform dominated the Victorian era. These urban spectators exposed poverty but also labelled
the poor as problematic.
1851: henry mayhew, London labour and the London poor. 1878: William booth founds the salvation
army 1883: Andrew mearns ‘the bitter cry of outcast london’. 1884: Samuel Barnett founds Toynbee hall
Fabian society established. 1889 charles boot, life and labour of the people of London. Many people
took an arm chair approach to the poor (looking in from the outside, a separate or other class.) ripper
murder victims were seen as separate so they caused their own problems by being a part of this other
society. Social reformers wound up closing down brothels which gave prostitutes nowhere to go but
made them more vulnerable to jack the ripper, the intention was to make their lives better but caused
Part 4 criminal justice
.the early 19 century saw a shift towards a more lenient response to crime (dismantling of the bloody
code, capital punishment limited to thur offenses by the 1840s creation of the London metropolitan
police in 1829). But by the mid 19 century this trend had been reversed as anxieties rose and punishments were harsh again. This was likely the result of fear-mongering in the press making crime
more obvious although not necessarily having risen. The expansion of newspaper circulation and the rise
of new journalism encouraged fears about unchecked crime in the Victorian metropolis.
London east and west
West end: wealth commerce, modernity, sanitation
East end: working-class, poor, homelessness
This divide duplicated the distinction between Britain and the empire (made concrete by a flood of
immigrants). East London was a source of fear for west London (panic surrounding literal and figurative
contamination). The press did little to quell these fears. East London seen as an other place. Blood
Sunday showed the fears of east London as they feared that east London would spill over into the west,
there was fears of cholera spilling over from east London, their values and culture was also causing
anxieties about spreading.
The crimes of jack the ripper
August 31, 1888-november 9, 1888
1. Polly/mary ann nicholls (august 31): 43 year old prostitute. Lived in Lambeth workhouse.
Separated from her husband. Alcoholic. No signs of a struggle. Slit throat, bruises on face, stab
wounds to her genitals. Was a prostitute to pay for her lodgings.
Murders are made worse by mutilation and what he does to the bodies after death that horrifies the
2. Annie chapman (September 8). 45-47, widow, lived in lambeth workhouse. No evidence of a
struggle, slit throat, body parts missing (part of the stomach, the uterus, part of the vagina, part
of the bladder)