The Name Jack the Ripper

One of the questions we often get asked is “why is he called Jack the Ripper?”

The honest answer to the question is that he wasn’t really called Jack the Ripper. Indeed, the name itself was probably the invention of a journalist. But it was such a good name to describe the antics of the unknown murderer, who was terrorising the East End of London in 1888, that it stuck and, pretty soon, the whole world came to know the killer by the fictional name of Jack the Ripper.

So where did the name come from?

In late September 1888 the Central News Agency on New Bridge Street in the City of London received a letter that purported  to have been written by the killer.

It was written in red ink, was addressed to “The Boss” and it mocked the police for their inability to catch the letter’s author, was was claiming to be the man who was committing the Whitechapel Murders. 

The letter bore the signature “Jack the Ripper.”

We actually show a copy of the letter on our Jack the Ripper tour and you can read it and study it for yourself.

24 or so hours before the murderer committed the “double event,” the murders of Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes on 30th September 1888, the Central News Agency passed the letter to the police.

When the “double event” occurred the police released the Dear Boss letter to the media and, within a few days, facsimiles of it were appearing on posters and in newspapers throughout the world.

Straight away the name caught on and helped transform a sordid series of murders in the East End of London into a international phenomenon and the legend of Jack the Ripper was born.