Size: 36" x 22" (fully open)
£9.99 plus postage and packaging
Jack the Ripper - Whitechapel 'Map Booklet' 1888
Size: 11" x 8½"
£9.99 plus postage and packaging
There is no shortage of maps when it comes to Ripperology... we've got the omnipresent "Jack's London" maps (more collectible than utilitarian), the P&D Riley maps of the mid-90s (more utilitarian than collectible), and the ever-more-available ordnance map reprints from the 1880s and 1890s. Ripperine cartographers remain in high demand, and for good reason - even those who are regularly able to transverse the cobbles of Whitechapel in 2004 can't fully appreciate the true layout and nature of Whitechapel in 1888. Too much has changed. Too much destroyed. Too much, lost forever.
And so here we have the latest addition to the series - or, should I say, additions, as there are indeed two products now simultaneously released by Geoff Cooper and Gordon Punter of ripperArt. Both are maps, but in different formats - one a more traditional, fold-out map, and the other a much more user-friendly series of nicely gridded maps in standard booklet form. Each has its advantages and downsides - and although they both comprise of the same basic maps and drawings, I'll review them separately.
A full-sized, two-sided foldable map containing what appears to be a completely "new" map of Whitechapel. "New" in the sense that it is a completely redrawn map, not just a blowup or copy of a previously-published ordnance map. The map is drawn in thick lines and with sharp angles which, although perhaps not as minutely-accurate as an ordnance survey, makes it a great deal easier to read and find objects of interest at a glance. Not all streets are labeled, though most are, and all of the areas that are normally of interest to the Ripper-minded researcher are meticulously annotated - areas surrounding each of the canonical five murder locations even more-intricately so. The canonical locations are also magnified and drawn and annotated in even greater detail, including body positions, nearby buildings, water pumps, gaslights and even furniture in the case of Millers Court.
Locations of all major (and sever lesser-known) public houses are shown, as well as churches, police stations, and other places of interest (such as Toynbee Hall, Victoria Workingmen's Home, and even the Chocolate Factory off Osborn Street near where Emma Smith was attacked) are drawn and labeled. Many of these locations, according to the authors, have never been so-precisely located before.
The map suffers the one major usability drawback that most maps suffer from - its a bugger to fold and unfold the thing every time you want to reference a specific location. Its too large to comfortably fold out at arm's length - you really need to lay it flat on the floor, or to mount it on a wall to appreciate it. But it is an excellent map indeed, and it is quite useful to see the whole thing in one go.
If I had to choose only one of these two products to purchase, it would without a doubt be the booklet. Here we have something really new, and particularly useful and user-friendly. The booklet contains exactly the same content as the larger folding map, but it is sectioned into different parts so that each section can fit on a single 11" x 8½" page. Both the full-Whitechapel views and the closer-in canonical murder sites are provided, along with short write-ups by the authors briefly summarizing the basic facts of each. Even better, each of the Whitechapel map-sections is carefully gridded on each page. The authors make full use of this by referring to specific locations within their text to its corresponding grid-points (i.e. "... along Houndsditch towards Aldgate (P27, GG9)").
Its the combination of an easy-to-browse booklet form and the novel gridding system which, I believe, will make this particular publication a "must-have" for every serious Ripperologist. Precise locations within Whitechapel are always difficult to pin-down in research and in casual conversations with other enthusiasts. But imagine now conversing with a fellow researcher about, say, the Red Lion Public House. Instead of offering a vague location such as "On Batty Street, near the London Board School", you can now point your readers to the exact location, with just a 10 or 15 yard radius - See: Cooper & Punter, JJ47. Crossingham's Lodging House? See: P15. Wentworth Model Dwellings? See: Y17. Victoria Workingmen's Home? See: W22. And the fact that all these gridded maps are in booklet form makes it that much easier to get immediately to your point of interest, without having to fumble with an unwieldly folding map.
Both the folding-map and booklet are useful, but I have to say its the booklet that will likely find the most use. Its innovative design may very well make it the cartographic standard for Ripperological studies. My only complaint, if it can be considered as such, is that there is no index provided in the back for lightning-quick reference to all locations labelled on the map. It would have been a fairly simple addition to the text, and would have made the end-product all the more useful.
Nevertheless, a highly recommended cartographic duo. Get both if you can, but if you're on a budget, opt for the booklet. It may very well become the standard cartographic reference for all future Ripper publications. Even better, there is ample "free space" on most maps for researchers to add their own annotations, labels, or entirely new buildings and areas germane to their research.
For more information and to order copies of either the map or booklet you can go to: