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Who Was Jack the Ripper?

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No serial killer in England has ever sparked such hysteria and interest as Jack the Ripper. Also known as the Whitechapel murderer, the blood-curdling stories about Jack the Ripper still terrorise and amaze people to this day. In the mid-19th century, the parish of Whitechapel, London, became increasingly overcrowded due to an influx of Irish and Jewish migrants. A series of the most vicious murders started soon after.

The attacks were mostly carried out on women, with acts as grim as deep throat slashes and removal of internal organs. As the murders evolved into more terrifying ones, the cases and the murderer themselves gained a lot of media attention. The Ripper was definitely a local, as the murders seems to happen mostly during the weekend and on public holidays. There were quite a few speculations already, about who this brutal murderer could be.

Could he be a poor man acting vengeance on society; or could he be a rich aristocrat playing games? Letters to the police came flowing in, with the media sometimes even pretending to sign some articles “Jack the Ripper” to heighten the sensation of the situation and sell their newspapers. The search for one of the world’s most notorious killers grew colder and colder. To this day, the legend of Jack the Ripper is not elucidated, though there are some claims from a book author that the DNA found in the 126-year old shawl of one victim pointed to Aaron Kosminski, a Polish immigrant.


At the time of the murders, it was recognised that Kosminski was paranoid with schizophrenia, and had attacked his own sister with a knife. And although someone had witnessed him as he was attacking someone else, they never testified. Evidence was unfortunately not enough, so Kosminski was institutionalised until his death in 1919, from gangrene. It is safe to say that it’s not very likely the debate on Jack the Ripper’s identity will cease.

There are numerous Jack the Ripper tours worth checking out in London, as well as a museum. Why not experience Victorian London and an intriguing mystery while studying English with one of our Homelingua English courses? Click here to view more information about our London locations and teachers.

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