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Did Jack the Ripper Write an Autobiography? (Probably Not)

A Letter allegedly written by Jack the Ripper in 1889


Few individuals from the past appear to have the staying power Jack the Ripper.  No matter how much time passes, it seems, this particular serial killer (if he was one man) retains his unassailable place in our popular imagination and culture.  Adding to the already over active rumour mill about this character is the recent publication of his “autobiography,” a manuscript dating to the 1920s that was recently discovered.  Credited to “James Carnac,” the document appears to detail the Ripper’s murders in some precise level of detail but its true level of authenticity – did someone called James Carnac actually exist and if so was he really the killer or is this just another elaborate in the world of history? – seems, at best, dubious.


Although it’s not something that is talked about a lot it bears remembering that fake documents – though not hugely common – are out there.  During my own research, for example, I encountered a fake Daniel Boone autobiography in an archive where I was carrying out my own research.  And, of course, the Hitler Diaries remains probably the most famous of all historic fakes.  Still, the publication of this book is a good opportunity to have look at some of the wonderful (and gloriously pulpy) art work the Jack the Ripper murders inspired in the late 19th century:

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