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5 Questions with Bill Perring

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  • 5 Questions with Bill Perring

    Hi, How.
    Your questions answered

    1. Have you any plans in the future for another Ripper-fiction book?

    Sort of. I have rough outlines for a prequel and two sequels to the Mary Kelly book, which would bring the story right up to the present day - but whether I ever write them depends on the original novel being picked up by a mainstream publisher (I now realise that I am just too lazy, and have too many other irons in the fire, to handle the marketing myself). In the meantime I’m working on another book, set partly in the present and partly in the early 17th century, with a plot that revolves around a very strange inheritance (can’t really tell you more than that at the moment).

    2. What was you introduction to your present involvement in researching and reading about the Whitechapel Murders? Did it stem from childhood or perhaps an interest developed from hearing about the Maybrick Diary ( as an example...)?

    Back in the days when I had a proper job (that was back in the eighties, and I still have the nightmares) I used to work opposite St Botolph’s church – and within a stone’s throw of Mitre Square. Being so close to the murder sites, I began reading up on the subject, and visiting the sites – like you do. I became really fascinated by it for a while – so it was very easy to get back into the research once I’d decided to write the book.

    3. Which individual within the whole of the Case is most intriguing to you even though we all know you wrote a book devoted to Mary Kelly? Could it be someone else?

    Well, I would have to stick with Mary as first choice. She is such a complete enigma. If only half the stories about her were true, she’d still have had the most amazing changes of fortune in her possibly short life.

    4. Which social change do you think that Jack The Ripper affected the most ... the press, the police, the political approach to the poor or perhaps the people themselves?

    My money would be on the press. There is a Linley Sambourne cartoon from the period, lampooning the growing trend toward newspaper sensationalism. I think it quite likely that Jack the Ripper didn’t give birth to the twentieth century so much as to today’s tabloid press.

    5. If one of the letters to the press, police, or private individuals was from the Ripper ... which do you believe it was?

    I doubt any one of them was from the Ripper – but who knows? Still, talking of the letters, I thought you might enjoy this – it was a scene that never made it into the finished book. It’s set in the dissecting room of the London Hospital, and pretty much sums up my take on the letters.

  • #2
    “You aren’t seriously going to send one?”
    “Oh, shut up, Wilmott. Why don’t you make yourself useful and keep an eye out for Taffy, there’s a good chap”.
    The remaining students huddled around the table where Saunders stooped over a blank sheet of paper. “How about ... ‘Sir, I’ve been having a ripping time of late’?” He grinned, pleased by the ensuing ripple of laughter.
    “No ... surely much better to do it in cockney!” Pushing himself forward, Neville Soames thrust his thumbs behind his lapels and flexed his knees in the manner of a music hall comedian. “Wot a jolly wheeze, Guvnor! Blimey, I ain’t chaffed so much since me old dutch fell dahn the stairs and broke her bloomin’ neck!”
    The appreciative laughter was louder this time, so that Wilmott was driven to lean back in to the room. “Keep it down, for God’s sake,” he hissed.
    Unperturbed, Saunders sat with pen poised. “I’ll have to disguise the writing ... something crude would be easiest.”
    “Has to be Irish then! Saw a fellow playing one at the Hackney Empire last week - damned funny!”
    “If you spent as much time studying as you do at the music hall you’d be in Harley Street by now, Soames.”
    “Probably would, old chap – but would it be anywhere near so much fun?”
    Saunders sucked thoughtfully at the end of his pen. “Irish would be good.” He began to chuckle, “And we could sign it with an X to show that he couldn’t write!”
    “Then how would he write the letter?” snorted one of the onlookers.
    Soames patted the fellow’s head. “You really are a perfect arse, aren’t you, Dunn. That’s the whole point! But I suppose if the editor is anywhere near as dull as you, it will be a pretty flat joke. We need to make this really obvious ... here, write this down: ‘Dear Sor. Be-Jasus, but if oim not Jack d’ Ripper – all d’ way from d’ Oirish bogs’.”
    Saunders set his pen to the paper, chuckling as he wrote the words ‘Dear Sor’ at the top, then he paused. “I think we need to be a little more subtle with the rest of it or it’ll never get in to print. I’ll do a rough copy now and do the proper one later. Are we sending it to the Central News Agency?”
    Neville Soames gave a half smile. “I shouldn’t, old boy. A friend of mine tells me they’re getting letters by the thousand. We don’t want this little gem getting lost amongst that lot”.
    “Well, I don’t suppose any of those will have bits of kidney in them, will they?” said Saunders.
    “Who knows? But since it’s to be from an Irishman maybe we should put in a piece of potato instead!” Soames waited a moment, basking in the merriment of his fellows, before continuing, “I think we should send it to that pompous duffer, Lusk ... you know ... the one who runs that damned vigilance committee? If he isn’t the sort to swallow it hook, line and sinker, then I’m a Dutchman!”
    The eager murmurs of agreement were cut short as Wilmott shot back into the room once more. “Taffy!” he said.