One of the strangest things I have come across in all my years of conducting Jack the Ripper walks is the number of people throughout the world who think that Jack the Ripper never actually existed.
Now I suppose, technically speaking, that Jack the Ripper never did exist, By that I mean that there was never an actual person whose parents had decided it would be a good idea to name their newborn offspring “Jack the Ripper” and then sit back and wonder what sort of an adult he would turn out to be!
The name Jack the Ripper was a fiction, which was probably created by a journalist, and which was used to sign the infamous “Dear Boss Letter,” which had been sent to a London news agency in late September 1888.
So the criminal who was carrying our a murderous reign of terror in the East End of London most certainly wasn’t called Jack, his middle name wasn’t the and his surname wasn’t Ripper.
But, name aside, the murders were very real, as was the person responsible for them, whoever he was, and whatever his name. However, in my career as a Jack the Ripper Tour guide, I have met lots of people who, before they came on the walk, thought that the murders themselves had not been real.
When the Jack the Ripper murders were taking place in London a young doctor from Edinburgh had put pen to paper and had created an iconic character whose name, just like that of Jack the Ripper, would become famous throughout the world. The doctor was Arthur Conan-Doyle, and the character he created was, of course, Sherlock Holmes.
Strange to think that the world’s most infamous murderer, and the world’s most famous fictional consulting detective, would both make their appearances at the same time.
Stranger still is the fact that I have met many people who believe that Jack the Ripper was the fictional character and that Sherlock Holmes was real.