Paul Feldman: Anne Graham: Carol Emmas
Sunday 10th November, 1996. Ten minutes to six. I was walking up Abercorn Place -- yes, the very street where John William Smith Saunders, one of the 'insane' medical students investigated by Chief Inspector Abberline, had lived at No 20 -- and then across Abbey Road, just down from the famous studio brought into our consciousness by The Beatles, and on towards a block of nineteen-thirtees art-deco flats. I entered a hallway large enough for a roller-rink and took the lift to my destination.
I had been invited by Paul Feldman to interview Anne Graham, from whom the controversial Diary of Jack the Ripper had originated. As it happened, it turned out not to be an 'interview' at all, but an extremely pleasant, if thoroughly exhausting, evening spent in the discussion of the provenance of the Diary and all the research that had been undertaken, and the documents and evidence that had been discovered, towards the proof of it's authenticity, and Anne's connection to the Maybrick family.
Although I had taken a Dictaphone and camera, I quickly realised it would not be appropriate to ask to use them. I was to be allowed to see, hear, judge, and even relate, but not to have the backup of anything 'on record.' This I could understand, for Paul's book Jack the Ripper: The Final Chapter would not be published by Virgin until next April -- still six months away. When the evening was over, I did not feel at liberty to reveal any of the information I had been given, but merely to give an outline as to what took place, and my overall impressions of the situation and evening.
Paul Feldman I had met before, but could hardly say I knew. Carol Emmas, his researcher, I had also met previously, and become friendly with. Anne Graham I had seen only in the picture with her then husband, Mike Barrett, and their daughter Caroline, reproduced in Shirley Harrison's book The Diary of Jack the Ripper. She did not resemble the picture in the slightest. Wearing a long black dress, with short dark hair, round face, she was the epitome of the unexceptional. There was the familiar Cilla Black inflections in her strong Liverpool accent, and as the evening progressed, I realised she was an intelligent woman. But I also had the strong impression she was completely bored with the whole 'Ripper' saga.
Anne is currently working on her own research for a book about Florence Maybrick, and the intriguing possibility that Florence might have been her great-grandmother. And throughout the whole evening I heard nothing to make me doubt the validity of this investigation. The string of coincidences, curious connections, tangible proofs, photographic likenesses, were simply too many (and too lucky) for anyone to have concocted. They were too interwoven and tangled. They matched up with, and touched on, so many areas that a faker, however sharp, deft, and devious could not possibly have had the good fortune to marry together, and would have soon enough given himself away by some minutely detailed error.
In the four hours I spent with Paul, Anne and Carol, I had the results thrust at me of as many years, and more, of research into the Diary's provenance. By the end I was mentally exhausted. Unable to remember names, details, intricacies of complicated family connections -- it all became a blur. But I was left with the undeniable belief that for any and every query, question, challenge or argument that doubters might put forward in dispute of the Diary's authenticity, there was a completely rational and convincing answer or explanation for each one -- backed up with concrete and tangible evidence.
Paul's discourse was almost stream-of-consciousness, leaping from the time delay, for example, between Elizabeth Stride's attack and her actual murder, as reported by Schwartz, to the street in which James Maybrick's mistress, or wife, Sarah Ann had lived in Whitechapel. He would start relating the search for a piece of information, and Anne would pick up the story and finish it. Occasionally Carol would tell a story of her own, of how she came across a certain piece of vital information.
There was absolutely no indication of collusion. The evening was so informal, and so crammed with information that there was no possibility that it could have been stage-managed, or rehearsed, or faked, for my benefit.
I saw documents, signatures, photographs, videoed interviews, letter comparisons, even correspondence so sensitive that it can never be published. I saw three albums of photographs relating to the Graham/Maybrick family. There were more. In these albums were pictures of people dating from the last century to the present time. All different, but all bearing an unmistakeable stamp of similarity; a down-turn at the edge of the mouth; a sameness in the eyes; a slight point on the eyebrows; an undefinable gauntness; all so similar to the face of the woman sitting on the couch opposite me, that I could not doubt that they were related. Anne Graham had the same down-turned mouth, a plumper, rounder face but it also carried the same undeniable gauntness. The evening's conversation and the evidence I saw, made clear that the provenance of the Diary and the Graham/Maybrick link were inextricably inter-connected.
One other thing became abundantly clear, and this was that people, and this includes intelligent and experienced authors and researchers, simply do not read the words in front of them. By that, I mean they do not observe the actual subtleties of the real meaning of the words. This is difficult to explain. If I say, for example, 'I have based my writing on the original documents...' I might be criticised for including something not in the original documents. My words have not been correctly understood, because I have not been correctly understood, because I have left myself leeway by saying only that I have 'based' my writing on the original documents.
Paul Feldman was more generous with the sharing of his research information than anyone could have rightfully expected. I was a stranger, and outsider if you will, and had been shown, and told, serious information that has yet to be made public. I felt very privileged. When the book is finally released and all the facts I was privy to and more, are published, I believe the provenance of the Diary will be extremely hard to disprove.
Exhausted, I left the apartment at about ten o'clock, with the deep impression that, unbelievably, the riddle of Jack the Ripper is closer to being solved than it ever has been before. The one common factor of all the previous 'suspects' has been an author's lack of factual evidence to conclusively prove his case. In the present instance, the staggering amount of researched evidence could very well turn around all the views put forward in the last hundred and eight years.