Who Created Jack The Ripper

Despite the fact that the police had taken the Dear Boss letter seriously enough to release facsimiles of it to the newspapers, Sir Charles Warren, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, appears to have entertained serious doubts as to its having been written by the perpetrator of the atrocities almost from the outset.

On the 10th of October 1888, he wrote to Sir Godfrey Lushington, the Permanent Under-Secretary at the Home Office, to inform him of his reservations.

“At present, I think the whole thing a hoax but of course we are bound to try & ascertain the writer in any case.”


It appears that, at the time there was a widespread belief amongst those in the know that the letters writer was a member of the press.

According to Sir Robert Anderson – who throughout the murders was the head of the Criminal Investigation Department and the Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, the “Dear Boss” letter was – “the creation of an enterprising London journalist.”

The journalist and crime-writer, Edgar Wallace would later recall that, in his days as a reporter, the better informed Fleet Street men were satisfied that a newspaper man was “behind” the letters.


However, one of the first people to air publicly the suspicion that the letter’s author was a journalist was George R. Sims, who in his weekly column in The Referee newspaper on Sunday the 7th of October 1888, opined that:-

“The fact that the self-postcard-proclaimed assassin sent his imitation blood-besmeared communication to the Central News people opens up a wide field for theory.

How many among you, my dear readers, would have hit upon the idea of “the Central News” as a receptacle for your confidence? You might have sent your joke to the Telegraph, the Times, any morning or any evening paper, but I will lay long odds that it would never have occurred to you to communicate with a Press agency.

Curious, is it not, that this maniac makes his communication to an agency which serves the entire Press? It is an idea which might occur to a Press man perhaps; and even then it would probably only occur to someone connected with the editorial department of a newspaper, someone who knew what the Central News was, and the place it filled in the business of news supply.

This proceeding on Jack’s part betrays an inner knowledge of the newspaper world which is certainly surprising. Everything therefore points to the fact that the jokist is professionally connected with the Press…”

A photograph of George Sims.
George Sims. A. K. A. Dagonet.


A year later Charles Tempest Clarkson and J. Hall Richardson, in their book “Police” wrote that:-

“The fame of “Jack the Ripper” spread far and wide.

It is probable that nothing would have been heard of this cognomen had it not been for the indiscretion of Scotland Yard in publishing a facsimile of sensational letters sent to a news agency, which thereby gave to these interesting documents the stamp of official authority.”


In their retirements several of the senior police officers who had been involved in the case would state that they actually knew the identity of the press man who had coined the name “Jack the Ripper.”

In his memoirs, which were serialised in Blackwood’s Magazine in March 1910, Sir Robert Anderson had this to say about the letter:-

“The subject will come up again, and I will only add here that the “Jack-the-Ripper” letter which is preserved in the Police Museum at Scotland Yard is the creation of an enterprising London journalist.”

There was also a footnote, in which Anderson revealed the reason for his reticence in naming the author of the letter:-

“Having regard to the interest attaching to this case, I should almost be tempted to disclose the identity of the murderer and of the pressman who wrote the letter above referred to, provided that the publishers would accept all responsibility in view of a possible libel action.”

A portrait of Sir Robert Anderson.
Sir Robert Anderson (1841 – 1918). Copyright, The British Library Board.


Anderson’s reminiscences received widespread press coverage themselves, and on Saturday the 16th of April 1910 The East London Observer published the following letter:-

Echoes of the Whitechapel Murders.

To the Editor of the East London Observer.


Sir Robert Anderson, who is just now much before the public eye, may like to know that the postcards, apparently written with blood, received by the H Division of Police, were the work of an enterprising local penny-a-liner, who used his foreknowledge to “line” the reports of the receipt of these strange missives. At the time the daily papers seized with avidity any “murder” news, and as the postcards were received by the police the truth of the reports could not be denied. It never occurred to the intelligent C.I.D. that they could have traced the authorship of both postcards and reports. They know better now…”

Yours truly.

A Wide-Awake East-Ender.
11th April. 1910.


It should be pointed out, neither the Dear Boss letter nor the Saucy Jack postcard were received by the Metropolitan Police’s H Division, nor by any division for that matter, as they were, in fact, sent to the Central News, so, either this East Ender was referring to different letters, or he was not as wide awake as he believed he was!


Another senior officer who claimed to have had suspicions about the identity of the author of the Dear Boss letter was Sir Melville Macnaghten who had joined the Metropolitan Police in June 1889 as Assistant Chief Constable.

He retired in 1913 and published his memoirs, titled, Days of My Years, in 1914.

An image of Sir Meville Macnaghten
Sir Melville Macnaghten


In a chapter devoted to the Jack the Ripper murders he looked back on the letter that was, he said, “received at a well-known News Agency, addressed to the “Boss.”

Having commented that he considered it a mistake for the police to have made the letter public, he stated that:-

“In this ghastly production I have always thought I could detect the stained forefinger of the journalist – indeed, a year later I had shrewd suspicions as to the actual author! But whoever did pen the gruesome stuff, it is certain to my mind that it was not the mad miscreant who had committed the murders. The name “Jack the Ripper”, however, had got abroad in the land and had “caught on”; it riveted the attention of the classes as well as the masses.”

So two high ranking police officers evidently were of the opinion that the Dear Boss letter that coined the name “Jack the Ripper” was the invention of a journalist, and both hinted that they knew his identity, but both were unwilling to name him.