Vanessa A. Hayes
Softcover. 292 pages, illustrated, bibliography.
Hayes presents Dr. Thomas Barnardo, the famous London philanthropist credited for rescuing more than 60,000 homeless children during his lifetime, as her "Jack the Ripper". She suggests that Barnardo possessed a life-long hatred of prostitutes - first, because of a scandalous romance with an "unfortunate" which nearly destroyed his marriage and reputation, and later, because he saw them as the primary reason why such a large number of homeless children wandered hungry and destitute through the streets of East London. His solution, says Hayes, was to murder a few of them in such a spectacular fashion that it would focus international press attention on the East End, thereby increasing funding and interest in his childrens' charity-work.
The main arguments made in Revelations, apart from Barnardo's alleged hatred of prostitutes, are that he had medical training - and in particular, gynaecological training - and that he was known to have spent countless hours in Whitechapel preaching to downtrodden women. Indeed by his own account he even spoke with Ripper victim Elizabeth Stride just a few days before her murder and, as Hayes points out, Barnardo was questioned by the police on at least one occasion. All of these are points are well-made, but in the end, the idea that Barnardo was committing serial murder for the sake of philanthropy may be too much for the average reader to swallow.
The book itself is self-published, and unfortunately suffers greatly from the lack of proper editing. Although generally well-written, spelling and grammar mistakes are peppered throughout the text, and there are numerous sentences which, from any angle, simply don't make any sense. These issues may be of little concern to some, but for others they could seriously mar the reading experience and interrupt the flow of the narrative.
It should also be noted that Revelations contains complete transcriptions of all five canonical inquests, which on their own comprise more than half of the entire book. This might be of interest to those who have never actually read the full transcripts, but as these have been published elsewhere the more experienced Ripperologist might feel a bit short-changed - especially as these reports appear to have been lifted directly from the www.casebook.org web site and simply pasted into the manuscript.
Although Barnardo has been mentioned before as a possible Ripper suspect, this is the first book-length treatment of the theory and as such it should be of interest to both collectors and serious students of the case. However, poor editing and a lack of any new or startling revelations makes it difficult to recommend this book to the average reader.