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Hallie Rubenhold on her Battle with the Ripperologists

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  • Hallie Rubenhold on her Battle with the Ripperologists

    https://www.waterstones.com/blog/hal...ripperologists



    The Five, Hallie Rubenhold's magisterial revisionist history of the victims of Jack the Ripper, has received both critical plaudits - scooping the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction last November - and popular success. But there has been one section of the public that has always been implacably opposed to Rubenhold's argument: those men who pride themselves on their Ripper expertise, otherwise known as the Ripperologists. In this exclusive essay, Hallie Rubenhold details the abuse and invective she has suffered at the hands of these people and tries to deconstruct why their hatred has been so marked.



    Authors never know how the world will receive their books. There is always an agonising period shortly after the new work appears on the shelves when we await with bated breath, and not a little dread, the verdict of the critics. Until recently, none of my books – two novels and two works of non-fiction – had been deemed especially controversial. They were born, introduced to the public, read, discussed, and, for the most part, readers were kind to them. Then there came The Five.

    I can’t say that I didn’t expect some dissent when I decided to tackle a subject with a connection to Jack the Ripper. However, I hadn’t anticipated just how much fury The Five would ignite, nor how early it would begin.

    From the outset, a number of so-called Ripperologists took offence at the book’s claims that it was the first full-length biography to examine the five canonical victims as a subject divorced from the story of their killer. Apart from a small booklet containing fifty-seven pages of text, nothing else on the subject existed, but somehow, I’d already got off on the wrong foot. Bit by bit, as we inched nearer to publication day, matters began to escalate. In the summer of 2018, I was hounded on social media for claiming I had discovered that there was no evidence to support the popular belief that Jack the Ripper was a killer of ‘prostitutes.’ I was told by Ripperologists that I should ‘behave professionally’ and ‘stop airing [my] opinions as fact’ before my book came out and my ‘evidence’ could ‘be assessed’ by them. Then it got worse. Photographs of me taken surreptitiously while I was giving a lecture appeared on a Ripperology Facebook page, along with encouragements to post disparaging and sexual commentary. A thread appeared on a forum site I belonged to which ripped me and my yet-unpublished book apart in the most personal and grotesque way. It is now over three hundred pages long.

    When The Five was finally published, things exploded. I received abusive messages, I was denounced as a liar and accused of hiding and ignoring ‘facts’, as well as doctoring and redacting documents. One man, who shall always be remembered by the hashtag #ReadthebookTrevor, trolled me incessantly over the course of forty-eight hours. Unfortunately for him, his sexist rant coincided with International Women’s Day, and was not embraced warmly in the Twittersphere. While it was encouraging to feel championed by the public, the invective kept flowing. Perhaps the lowest point was the two-hour podcast recorded by a group of Ripperologists who tore apart The Five chapter by chapter, before finally comparing me to the Holocaust denier David Irving.

    What on earth was it about Jack the Ripper that got people so hot and bothered?

    Over the months, I’ve been forced to ponder this ridiculous question and it took me some time to make sense of it. I realize now that by writing a book about Polly Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Kate Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly which had nothing to do with their killer, I had completely disrupted the Ripper narrative. This narrative means a great deal to many people. Some have invested decades of their lives in trying to identify the killer, others have built an identity for themselves around being a Ripperologist. Not only am I an outsider (and a woman), but fundamentally, The Five challenges the very validity of the pursuit of Ripperology.

    Ripperology likes to deal in what it cites as ‘facts’, but in researching The Five, I soon learned that these ‘facts’ are derived from a deeply problematic body of evidence. The witness statements, which supposedly document the final movements of the victims, are, with few exceptions, all unverifiable. In the introduction to The Five, I clearly explain that I have excluded statements from witnesses who never knew the victims personally, who could not vouch for their identity. So much of what is reported came from those who believed they had seen one of the victims down a dark street, or possibly heard something said in passing. Not only can none of this be confirmed, but research over the past 131 years has radically changed what we know about the perceptions of witnesses. We’ve learned a great deal about how psychology and environmental factors alter perceptions. We simply can’t lay aside advances in our scientific knowledge when dealing with material from 1888.

    ‘Facts’ are also not what appear in the era’s newspapers. The witness statements on which much of Ripperology relies do not come from actual documents, but newspaper reports. In many cases, there is no definitive source for what was said, and if something was said it was reprinted in multiple different and contradictory ways. Neither can ‘facts’ consist of hastily scribbled or summarised police notes, steeped in the era’s prejudice.

    All documents require interrogation. In writing a history, my duty was to sift through what had been considered evidence by other authors, weigh its merits and examine its contexts. I learned that there simply is not enough viable evidence in existence to draw any conclusions about the identity of the killer, nor will there ever be. Jack the Ripper’s identity is irrelevant, and for some people that ‘fact’ is just too disturbing.
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  • #2
    Originally posted by Howard Brown View Post
    Apart from a small booklet containing fifty-seven pages of text, nothing else on the subject existed ...

    Interesting that she (or someone on her behalf) actually sat down and counted how many of the 112 pages of the book contained text, so that she could more convincingly dismiss it as a "booklet".

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    • #3
      Good eye, Chris.

      She is apparently oblivious to the Shelden work on Mary Kelly.
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      • #4
        If you were to take out all the conjecture and dubious context from The Five, I wonder how many pages of new information would remain?

        More than one?

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        • #5
          I must have misunderstood the current usage of the word redacted. I thought it meant to have removed sections of a text before making it publicly available.

          Hallie quoted a press report about Polly Nichols and left out the explicit statement by the women she lived with that she was an ‘unfortunate’ (prostitute). Does that not count as redaction?

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          • #6
            I’ve got a Waterstones account. Perhaps I should post Hallie & Co’s initial sexual slurs and evidence of her redaction of the Nichols press report.

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            • #7
              Just a reminder:

              F13BEF2D-6632-43A2-A28C-753AB25DCA4B.jpeg

              Comment


              • #8
                I’ve got a Waterstones account. Perhaps I should post Hallie & Co’s initial sexual slurs and evidence of her redaction of the Nichols press report.


                Gary:

                Not a bad idea.
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                • #9



                  and


                  From this thread:
                  https://twitter.com/HallieRubenhold/...55026440151041
                  ------------------------------------------------------
                  http://autumnofterror.com | http://JtR3D.com

                  Comment


                  • #10



                    Contrary to what Rube says, the prostitutes in the Whitechapel Murders case are the most well-known prostitute murder victims in history.
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                    • #11
                      A kupla two three other things.....

                      The vocal critics to Mrs. McGrath's book constitute only a fraction of those who think little of her book. She's been lucky. There are far more who simply don't think enough of her book and 'groundbreaking research' to comment on her.

                      The constant whiny screech that we're misogynists is the most irritating claim she makes (IMHO ). Call me a dick, I can live with it....an s.o.b. and I'd agree. But the misogynist label is really out of bounds.

                      If she had any cojones, she'd come here and settle our collective hash...since she believes she can.

                      I also believe she thought she'd rock our socks with her book and is actually disappointed with the outcome.

                      Impressing a bunch of people who've never read a Ripper work wouldn't satisfy a true historian.
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                      • #12
                        Ripperologists are researchers. I am proud to be a Ripperologist. My first interests were in identifying JtR and understanding the lives and times of his female victims. After being immersed in this Forum my interests turned from JtR to the victims and other contemporary characters as well as life in the East End.

                        'True Crime' in general is turning away from the sickening acts of serial killers to focus on victims and other aspects of these crimes. Enough SK's have been caught, had their time in the spotlight, had their press conferences, gathered groupies, gotten married and fathered children while of death row. There is really nothing to see or learn by continually wallowing in depraved acts ranging from torture to cannibalism and everything in between.

                        Case in point is some fairly new videos on Richard Ramirez called Night Stalker but apparently secondary to de Angelo the Original Night Stalker caught by DNA in 2018. Ramirez' crimes were exceedingly sickening and there is no reason to revisit them. The new videos are with one of the main investigators who is now retired and speaks about the hunt for and capture of Ramirez. The actual crimes are barely mentioned.

                        My point is HR is just riding the new wave in the 'True Crime' genre. There is apparently a strong promotional effort behind the author. Controversy sells so Ripperologists are the scapegoats. We are being used to drum up attention, interest and ultimately book sales and/or film deals. Like I have said many times, it is amazing how much in the entertainment world is manufactured for a healthy bottom line.

                        I have a couple serious projects in my life and I think carefully before I do things because I do not want to weaken my position in these other areas. That said, I am proud of being a Ripperologist. I will do research that interests me and others can pursue their interests. Good work stands on its own and is never defined by tearing down others.

                        Otherwise, I am reminded of something my mother always said about things like gossip and schoolyard bullying, "Consider the source." The implication was of course negative; consider the source, see the weaknesses and move on.
                        The wickedness of the world is the dream of the plague.~~Voynich Manuscript

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by RichardH View Post
                          Blimey, that’s quick off the mark!

                          I’ve never been redacted so promptly. Was it something I said?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Gary Barnett View Post
                            Just a reminder:

                            [ATTACH]20867[/ATTACH]
                            I'd be interested to know what "sexual fantasy element" Caz Brown, Jenni Shelden, Debs Arif, Norma Buddle and Anna Morris (to name but a few) attracted them to the case.

                            Rubenhold and her clique/claque are beyond hysterical, and I speak as a committed socialist and advocate of women's rights.
                            Kind regards, Sam Flynn

                            "Suche Nullen"
                            (F. Nietzsche)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Anna Morris View Post
                              Ripperologists are researchers. I am proud to be a Ripperologist. My first interests were in identifying JtR and understanding the lives and times of his female victims. After being immersed in this Forum my interests turned from JtR to the victims and other contemporary characters as well as life in the East End.

                              'True Crime' in general is turning away from the sickening acts of serial killers to focus on victims and other aspects of these crimes. Enough SK's have been caught, had their time in the spotlight, had their press conferences, gathered groupies, gotten married and fathered children while of death row. There is really nothing to see or learn by continually wallowing in depraved acts ranging from torture to cannibalism and everything in between.

                              Case in point is some fairly new videos on Richard Ramirez called Night Stalker but apparently secondary to de Angelo the Original Night Stalker caught by DNA in 2018. Ramirez' crimes were exceedingly sickening and there is no reason to revisit them. The new videos are with one of the main investigators who is now retired and speaks about the hunt for and capture of Ramirez. The actual crimes are barely mentioned.

                              My point is HR is just riding the new wave in the 'True Crime' genre. There is apparently a strong promotional effort behind the author. Controversy sells so Ripperologists are the scapegoats. We are being used to drum up attention, interest and ultimately book sales and/or film deals. Like I have said many times, it is amazing how much in the entertainment world is manufactured for a healthy bottom line.

                              I have a couple serious projects in my life and I think carefully before I do things because I do not want to weaken my position in these other areas. That said, I am proud of being a Ripperologist. I will do research that interests me and others can pursue their interests. Good work stands on its own and is never defined by tearing down others.

                              Otherwise, I am reminded of something my mother always said about things like gossip and schoolyard bullying, "Consider the source." The implication was of course negative; consider the source, see the weaknesses and move on.
                              Anna,

                              Some of the most knowledgable and perceptive ‘Ripperologists’ I have encountered on these boards have been women. l have never yet encountered a male enthusiast whose motivation appeared to be misogynistic or sexual.

                              Does that accord with your experience, or am I deluded?

                              Gary

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