The Diary of Jack the Ripper – Book Review
Jack the Ripper remains the most notorious serial killer of all time. The fact he was never caught and never identified maintains the mystery. Here is a book that purports to reveal Jack’s actual diary. According to the writer, Jack the Ripper was in fact a cotton merchant from Liverpool by the name of James Maybrick. No I am not giving away the ending, that much is revealed on the first page. He travelled to London by train, murdered and mutilated his victims, and calmly returned home to torment his young wife.
James Maybrick was unquestionably an interesting man. He travelled to Norfolk, Virginia on cotton and tobacco business and on the boat journey home, met and fell in love with an American beauty by the name of Florence Chandler. She was 18. He was 41. It would seem that both parties imagined the other to be wealthier than they actually were.
Florence was destined to become the first American woman to be tried in an English court, and as the charge was one of murdering her husband, it was a case that entranced the nation. The book argues the reason for the sudden end to the Ripper killings was because Maybrick was dead.
The mysterious diary that came to light at the end of the eighties is reproduced almost in full. I will leave you to make up your mind as to its authenticity. As for the book itself, I found it an interesting read, and I certainly learned much I did not know before. It may contain glaring anomalies, but you might like to get hold of a copy yourself and make up your own mind.
There is a vaguely interesting personal footnote. Among the photographs in the book is a picture of Knowsley Buildings in Old Hall Street, Liverpool. This is the building where James Maybrick maintained his offices. It was an old block with Dickensian outside metal staircases, almost a cross between a workhouse and a prison. In my youth I knew it well. There is a photograph in the book of Knowsley Buildings and within the basement, clearly visible, is or was, a gents’ hairdressing saloon. I knew that well too. I well remember sitting there waiting for a trim, as a teenage office boy, clutching my newly released Sergeant Pepper album.
The saloon was ancient and was dismantled when the building was knocked down in 1970. The thought occurs to me that could it possibly have been that James Maybrick, who maintained an office just upstairs, had his locks trimmed there too? He was a neat dapper chap, his photograph tells us that. It would seem very likely he would pop downstairs for a cut.
Could it possibly have been that I sat in the chair that was sat in by Jack the Ripper himself, as he thought of his hideous business? Now there’s a thought! I liked the book. It brought back many memories, most of them good ones.
The Diary of Jack the Ripper
By Shirley Harrison