|A Ripperologist Article
|This article originally appeared in Ripperologist No. 67, May 2006. Ripperologist is the most respected Ripper periodical on the market and has garnered our highest recommendation for serious students of the case. For more information, view our Ripperologist page. Our thanks to the editor of Ripperologist for permission to reprint this article.
Okay, everything you’ve heard is true. The Curse Upon Mitre Square is a pulpy piece of exploitation trash. Think Elvis clones. Think Alien advisors to the White House. Think Batboy. Think entertainment value. Written and published in October 1888, this first piece of Jack the Ripper fiction exploits the recent and ghastly murder of Catherine Eddowes in Mitre Square, but makes no pretense of actually solving the Ripper case. Because it contains plot holes bigger than the Grand Canyon and proposes the ghost of a mad monk as a potential Ripper suspect, students of the Ripper case often dismiss the book as an insignificant curiosity. Yet in addition to its entertainment value, The Curse Upon Mitre Square actually provides valuable insight into the mindset of the culture during the Ripper killings.
In the wee hours of August 31, 1888, the unfortunate Constable John Neil turned his lamp upon the mangled body of the first universally agreed upon Ripper victim: Mary Ann Nichols. Her throat had been slashed, and (as the coroner later discovered) she had been disemboweled. Contemporary British society thought her the third victim of the same killer(s) who had recently murdered two other prostitutes in Whitechapel streets, even though neither of those women had been similarly ripped.