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Jack the Ripper: Revealed and Revisited

Edition: Revised, 1st Published in 1993

Author: John Wilding 

ISBN: 0850793238

Publishers: Express Newspapers

Price £14.99

Publication Date: 2006

Publisher’s Title Information


‘A thoroughly researched and skilfully woven theory that conclusively reveals the identity of Jack the Ripper.  Expounding on his earlier book, Ripperologist John Wilding produces convincing new evidence that the notorious killer was not one, but two, men, loyal servants of the Crown working under the umbrella of the Establishment to protect the Royal family.  Tying the facts compellingly to his conclusions Wilding reveals how these men planned their reign of terror as a means of averting a scandal that threatened the very survival of the monarchy.  Handwriting analysis proves the killers' identities beyond doubt as Wilding's evidence of conspiracy, illegitimacy and a police cover-up, reaches its shocking conclusion.’ The Daily Express

‘It’s a story that has everything needed for a page-turning read – gruesome murders, Royal scandal, corruption and state plotting at the highest level.  In this gripping account of a crime that has baffled experts for over a century Wilding, armed with new code-breaking evidence and extensive research, puts forward a persuasive and cogent argument that leaves the reader certain of the true identity (or should that be identities?)of Jack the Ripper.’ The Sunday Express

The Author

John Wilding was born in Liverpool, into a family of engineers. John, instead of joining the family business, decided instead to follow a theatrical career.  Aged eighteen, he won a place at the London Academy of Dramatic Art.  After graduation, John joined the theatre company of one of his tutors, Brian Way for a number of seasons.  Eventually, John settled in London and began working in television, a medium he did not enjoy.  By this time, John was already interested in writing and began to pen articles for various newspapers.  Flexible hours meant, while writing his first stage play, he was able to undertake work at the Royal Opera House, where he could indulge his overwhelming, lifelong passion for opera and ballet. John’s first stage play It’s Underneath That Counts toured the UK, quickly followed by other successes such as Broken Bricks, Dead Spider and Lessons In Seduction.  He was then asked to dramatise Stephen Knight’s celebrated book, Jack The Ripper, the Final Solution: the resulting play won rave reviews under the title, The Secret of Jack The Ripper.

For family reasons John moved to Australia where his first book, The Message, was published, attracting film offers. Several TV comedy scripts followed, broadcast by ABC. A new play Who Will Sing Me To Sleep Tonight was performed in Sydney.  This attracted a commission for him to write a comedy, 006.  This played to full houses and earned record sums at the box office.  After four years in Australia, John returned to the UK, where his second book Jack The Ripper Revealed was published and his third book, The Journal Of Stephen Hadley – John’s favourite work.  John was forced into an early retirement to care for aging relatives, but soon he began work again rewriting Shakespeare’s immortal drama Hamlet in an attempt to explain the mysteries of the prince’s character.


Review

This is a revised edition, the original having been published in 1993.  Written in an easy to follow style unfettered by footnotes or detailed source references, it will certainly capture the imagination of readers new to the story of the Whitechapel Murders.  However, the experienced Ripperologist, comparing it with the more academically written source books available, will certainly take issue with some passages and conclusions.  But that would be churlish.  The writer has not set out to produce a standard text book examining all the evidence.  Instead he has chosen a path, of reasoned thesis, albeit a controversial one, by which to pursue particular suspects using an essentially novel approach.

The early chapters of the book cover the five canonical murders and certain aspects of the investigation.  These are followed by the author’s views as to what really happened.  To accept his thesis, the reader must forget what has been written by others and temporarily suspend some previously held views.  The murders it is claimed, were the result of a conspiracy, in a style not dissimilar to that set out in Stephen Knight’s book Jack the Ripper: The Final Solution, to which the author makes reference. 

Unlike Knight’s work the author puts forward a different scenario.  Imagine that one of the most senior royals in the land had an affair with Mary Kelly.  Suppose that this resulted in a pregnancy and that Mary used her privileged position to steal some important items of her lover’s property, possibly to blackmail him.  This has to be recovered and in the course of it, other ‘unfortunates’ who know too much have to be eliminated.  The dirty deeds are down to two suspects whose names, while familiar, have not previously been linked as a homicidal duo.  Furthermore, no-one was brought to justice because of other conspiracies involving people in high places, incompetent and corrupt police officers and coroners.

The author has written a play involving this scenario and quotes extracts in the text to indicate how those most intimately involved might have reacted to the strange situations in which they found themselves.  The facts, as set out in the more commonly accepted sources, are cleverly woven into the story.  

Further supporting evidence we are asked to consider, involves a comparative examination of the handwriting left at Goulston Street, with that of a suspect.  The question also arises as to whether that same handwriting contained a message in the form of an anagram.  The raw material in the form of the 46 letters used in the graffiti, is capable of a number of apposite anagrams, especially if one is content to leave a few letters unused.  Some of the other letters received by the police and others are also subjected to similar treatment.  Is cryptography a legitimate tool to use in pursuit of the Whitechapel murderer?  Well, if all else fails, perhaps it is!

The story is fascinating with a number of twists towards the end.  On the other hand a serious problem is the shortage of authorities and general provenance for statements made which, for some, will pose an insurmountable stumbling block.  That the author’s reasoning is controversial becomes clear when reading the most unusual postscript to the book entitled ‘Afterthoughts’.  In this he deals with reactions to the first edition from those who questioned his use of anagrammatical principles and challenged his conclusions.  This is a most unusual departure, but shows how strongly individuals need to defend sincerely- held views.  In one sense it is a pity that writers on the subject cannot agree to differ, without raising the temperature.  But maybe it is evidence of the heated debate the whole subject is capable of generating.  For that reason at least, this book is well worth reading.

P R


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