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Mural for Jack the Ripper victims set to come to Whitechapel

PUBLISHED: 11:34 19 February 2020 | UPDATED: 11:34 19 February 2020

How Whitechapel Murders made the headlines. Picture: Docklands Museum

How Whitechapel Murders made the headlines. Picture: Docklands Museum

Docklands Museum

A commemorative mural for the victims of Jack the Ripper is coming to Whitechapel.

The brainchild of historian and author Hallie Rubenhold, the mural will seek to "place the women back at the heart of the Ripper narrative".

For Hallie this a move which is long overdue, with the writer openly critical of certain tours that commercialise the serial killer for profit: "The Ripper tours, there are several a day and some are absolutely atrocious."

Though keen to emphasise that not all glamorise gore, Hallie is adamant that the victims deserve this mural.

Jack the Ripper had five "canonical" victims: Mary Ann "Polly" Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly. They form the subject of Hallie's award-winning book, The Five, the promotion of which inadvertently inspired the idea.

Picture of the temporary mural dedicated to the victims of Jack the Ripper, Ebor St, Whitechapel. Credit: Transworld PublishersPicture of the temporary mural dedicated to the victims of Jack the Ripper, Ebor St, Whitechapel. Credit: Transworld Publishers

A temporary mural was put up in Ebor Street — what began as an advertisement quickly became Hallie's campaign for a permanent commemoration — and plans are now in motion following a viral tweet.

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Hallie has described the support as "overwhelming", with local churches, victims' descendants and many others offering to help.

Tower Hamlets Council has also agreed in principle, with Hallie confirming that a meeting is in the pipeline.

The idea of a memorial is not new — locals have discussed it for years. But the decision to go with a mural is recent, and one which Hallie believes is "totally appropriate and in keeping with the surroundings".

The author has received flak from "Ripperologists", who have accused Hallie of manufacturing a self-promoting publicity stunt. Hallie denies this, commenting that the mural "will have no reference to my book whatsoever".

Hallie hopes that there will come a time when the victims of Jack the Ripper are more widely known than their killer. She laments how the women have been portrayed. "When I started looking at the documentation, I could find no reliable evidence that three of the five were engaged in sex work at all.

"Interestingly, the death certificates bear this out - only Mary Jane Kelly had 'prostitute' written in the occupation column."

A mural would forever remember these Whitechapel women.


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