Our London Letter

It is difficult for us today to get a genuine feel for the excitement that the Whitechapel murders caused, not just in the district where the atrocities were occurring, but throughout the country as a whole.

It is safe to say that the Jack the Ripper crimes captured the imaginations of people far and wide in a way that no murderer had done in the past and no murderer has done since.


Quite why this particular series of crimes had the effect that they did is open to debate. Like many things, there probably isn’t one simple answer for the impact they had on society as a whole.

However, one thing that undoubtedly fuelled the excitement was the amount of press coverage that the crimes generated.

Very early on in the crimes, the newspapers discovered that the public appetite for every salacious morsel of information about the murders was virtually insatiable.

A ghoulisg figure place posters about murder on a wall.
Punch Magazine Comments On The Excitement Being Generated By The Whitechapel Murders.


The Dundee Courier, on Friday the 6th of October, published an article that looked at how people were reacting to the press coverage of the Jack the Ripper murders:-

London, Thursday Night.

Popular excitement over the Whitechapel atrocities is increasing, and the whole community is becoming saturated with the prevailing emotion.

To a large extent, the evening papers are feeding the excitement by their rival sensational announcements.


Last night the Evening News printed facsimiles of the letter and postcard which have emanated from a person calling himself “Jack the Ripper,” and in a few minutes what is published at the price of a halfpenny was selling readily at sixpence.

Indeed, it is a striking peculiarity of the commercial value of this panic that the halfpenny newspaper has temporarily ceased to be obtainable at that price. Sales are simply enormous, the women down to the little grisette of the shop counter being quite as eager for the latest news as the opposite sex.


For the latter, it is simply irresistible, and when one of the papers came out at the dinner hour today with a flim-flam story about the fugitive having been caught red-handed, a carter paused upon the threshold of his tavern and bought a copy with the penny that was intended for his “pot.”


Mr Wilfrid Lawson will probably see in this incident a moral condonation of the immoral doctrine that the end justifies the means.

More correctly, it will serve to show the engrossing passion of curiosity into which this extraordinary series of unpunished crimes has thrown the populace.


I may remark that the police authorities attach considerable importance to the ghastly jests of “Jack the Ripper,” and believe this individual to be the murderer.