The Invention Of Murder, By Judith Flanders

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At first, the Ripper murders were a source of fascination to the public of Whitechapel and even more so in the rest of London. In her book The Invention of Murder, Judith Flanders found crime and murder can be a form of entertainment for people. She says, “Crime, especially murder, is very pleasant to think about in the abstract…It reinforces a sense of safety, even of pleasure, to know that murder is possible, just not here.” Those who were at a distance from the crimes lapped up the news reports like serials of fiction; their pleasure greater because the horrible stories were real. In Whitechapel, citizens visited the sites of the murders out of curiosity. The crime scenes became exhibits, and sometimes they returned to and retraced the path of blood the Ripper spilt. At first, it was a game to the public—a form of entertainment. Some members of the public attended victims’ funerals or traveled in groups seeking out the Ripper. Later, these groups became mobs on the hunt for the killer the police were unable to catch.
Throughout the time of the Ripper killings, hundreds of pieces of correspondence were sent to police stations and news agencies, many claiming to have been written by Jack the Ripper. These letters became a critique of the police and the press. They were often threatening in tone, and many explicitly laughed at or mocked the police and the press. Few of the letters have survived the test of time. However, there are three significant letters from these

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