Jack the Ripper book PR stunt revealed 'security threat', author fears

'Suspect package' taped to window in back street in Whitechapel... but just a book on Jack the Ripper

'Suspect package' taped to window in back street in Whitechapel... but just a book on Jack the Ripper - Credit: Toby Virgo

A researcher who hid copies of his Jack the Ripper novel in the streets of the East End was shocked it took a week for one of the books to be discovered. 

The packages had been left close to high-profile buildings around Whitechapel and The City, posing what Toby Virgo says could have been a security risk. 

Package left in Mitre Square left undetected for a week

Package left in Mitre Square left undetected for a week - Credit: Toby Virgo

“I expected them all to be claimed within hours,” he told the East London Advertiser

“I was staggered when I received a message seven days later from a man who had just discovered the copy I’d hidden. It had been left untouched for a full week.” 

Press of the day reports Jack the Ripper murder of Catherine Eddowes

Press of the day reports Jack the Ripper murder of Catherine Eddowes - Credit: Illustrated London News

The postman-turned-author scouted out the location at Mitre Square in Aldgate where one of Jack the Ripper’s victims, Catherine Eddowes, was murdered and her body mutilated on September 30, 1888.


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“I expected the whole time to be challenged by security or the police when I was hiding the books as it's such a sensitive location,” he recalled. “But no-one bothered me and one of the packages which could have contained anything was still in place a week later in plain view.”

Toby and his Jack the Ripper novel 'Carter the Cabman'

Toby and his Jack the Ripper novel 'Carter the Cabman' - Credit: Toby Virgo

The 46-year-old Yorkshireman had tied a plastic bag with the book to railings in Mitre Square as a publicity stunt for his book Carter The Cabman about one of the Ripper suspects. 

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“I am shocked that it’s possible to leave an object in our hyper security-conscious age when London has come under terrorist attacks,” Toby pointed out. “Just like the Ripper, I could have got away with murder.” 

Carter the Cabman... suspect in the Whitechapel Murders of 1888

Carter the Cabman... suspect in the Whitechapel murders of 1888 - Credit: Toby Virgo

Catherine Eddowes was the fourth of five victims and the second that September night. Jack the Ripper was never caught after the spate of murders in the dark, gas-lit streets of Victorian Whitechapel and Spitalfields. 

"It's unlikely the victims will ever have justice, in our obsession with the Ripper’s identity," Toby argues. "But the book tells their story from the perspective of the ordinary East End folk who actually lived through it."

He left copies hidden in plain site for anyone to find to "bring the story back to the people of the East End", who he says still live under the shadow of the Whitechapel Murders 133 years on.

Carter the Cabman is in hardback from Faceboook at £20 (limited 250 copies) or as an ebook on Amazon Kindle at £2.99. 

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