Jack the Ripper has gone down in history as one of the most notorious, chilling, and mysterious serial killers of all time. Between August and November 1888, he killed five women in London, the center of the British Empire. The killer was never caught, spurring a host of theories about who, exactly, this madman - or madwoman - actually was. He was neither the first nor the last serial killer who targeted women.
But, what about Jack the Ripper's victims? In the hunt to identify him and obsess over the smallest details of his crimes, the women killed by Jack the Ripper often get overlooked and forgotten. Though historians have not all come to a consensus about the total number of Jack the Ripper’s victims, there is a group of the so-called “canonical five”: Mary Ann “Polly” Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Kelly.
Though history remembers these women merely as prostitutes whose professions led to their deaths, they were a lot more than simply sex workers. They lived complicated, interesting lives filled with a variety of challenges. These women were among the poorest residents in London, often living penny to penny in one of the most crowded, unhealthy corners of the city – the East End. At a time when the British Empire was the envy of all nations, these five women were evidence the prosperity of empire had left a huge segment of the population behind.
Their names would be remembered while his true identity remains unknown. Their stories are fascinating, heartbreaking, and deserve to be told.
Some Of The Victims Were ImmigrantsPhoto: Wellcome Images/Wellcome Trust/CC BY 4.0 / via Wikimedia Commons
Prostitution Was One Of The Quickest Ways For East End Women To Make MoneyPhoto: Jack London/Public Domain / via Wikimedia Commons
Some Victims Were Walking The Streets At Night Because They Couldn't Afford A BedPhoto: Sir Hubert von Herkomer/Public Domain / via Wikimedia Commons
Some Of Them Were MothersPhoto: Special Collections/Toronto Public Library/CC BY SA-2.0 / via Wikimedia Commons
Some Of Them Had Been Estranged From Their FamiliesPhoto: Public Domain / via Wikimedia Commons
They All Liked Alcohol - And May Have Been AlcoholicsPhoto: Wellcome Images/Wellcome Trust/CC BY 4.0 / via Wikimedia Commons