Dr Drew Gray, Senior Lecturer in the History of Crime, School of Social Sciences, The University of Northampton, who developed the theme of his most recent book London’s Shadows (Continuum, 2010) discussing the Ripper murders in the context of social conditions of Whitechapel in the 1880s, was joined by a prestigious panel of speakers from academia, former detectives, profilers and Ripperologists at ‘Jack the Ripper through a wider lens: An interdisciplinary conference’.
Delegates attended from across the USA, Canada and Britain to explore the fascination with the Ripper case and to exchange ideas, theories and thoughts.
Dr Gray commented:
The gruesome Whitechapel/Ripper murders of 1888 continue to intrigue 120 years on.
There is still a tremendous amount of interest in the murders, this is in part because no-one has ever been caught and prosecuted for the killings.
All sorts of suspects have been suggested including Queen Victoria’s surgeon William Gull and her grandson Prince Albert Victor, through to an elusive Polish immigrant called Kosminsky and an American doctor called Tumblety. A new book by Dr Elizabeth Hurren, a former History lecturer at The University of Northampton, will offer a new slant on the case when it appears later this month. However, it is unlikely that we will ever know the real identity of the man that brutally murdered and ‘ripped’ the five women in the case; in the meantime, further research and speculation will hopefully continue to provide opportunities for more fascinating conferences such as this.
The first conference session was presented by members of the Vidocq Society, worldwide specialists who assist police forces across the globe in solving cold case files. They were followed by a lecture from a former member of Philadelphia’s Police department with over 40 years experience in the field, bringing the department’s experiences to bear on the Ripper investigation.
Delegates also heard from Martin Fido, a renowned expert on the Ripper case, and from How Brown and Christopher George, who regularly post new research on www.casebook.org – the world’s largest public repository of Ripper-related information; they offered intriguing material on the police investigation and possible suspects.
There were also discussions on the Ripper in theatre, film and literature, and a presentation that looked at the work of Northampton graphic novelist Alan Moore, whose From Hell series inspired the most recent film adaptation of the case.