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Pinkerton's Ghost Writer : The 1888 Whitechapel Murders Book

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  • Pinkerton's Ghost Writer : The 1888 Whitechapel Murders Book

    Having taken up reading Allan Pinkerton stories on Kindle before hitting the hay recently...for the past three weeks, in fact....I've taken an interest in Pinkerton and his detective agency. I know he died in 1884...one son was also a detective.

    Allan Pinkerton died in Chicago on July 1, 1884. It is usually said that Pinkerton slipped on the pavement and bit his tongue, resulting in gangrene. Contemporary reports give conflicting causes, such as that he succumbed to a stroke (he had had one a year earlier) or to malaria, which he had contracted during a trip to the Southern United States. At the time of his death, he was working on a system to centralize all criminal identification records, a database now maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.


    Pinkerton produced numerous popular detective books, ostensibly based on his own exploits and those of his agents. Some were published after his death, and they are considered to have been more motivated by a desire to promote his detective agency than a literary endeavor. Most historians believe that Allan Pinkerton hired ghostwriters, but the books nonetheless bear his name and no doubt reflect his views.

    (Note...there is no question, after reading a few of the stories, that ghost writers were used.- HB )

    I recalled that Stephen Ryder posted information and the book cover of the 1888 work 'The Whitechapel Murders Or An American Detective In London'. I just went over to see if there had been an update...perhaps Steve found a copy of that book.

    Anyway, the cover says A. Frank Pinkerton wrote this fiction/fact book.

    There are a few books ( Five Thousand Dollar Reward, Crime Of The Midnight Express, The Great Adams Express Robbery, etc..) which list an A. Frank Pinkerton as author.

    However.............
    1. Allan Pinkerton's full name was Allan J. Pinkerton, not A. Frank Pinkerton.
    2. Even if this was a typo, Allan Pinkerton could not have written it. He had been dead for 4 years and one month by the time of the Tabram murder.
    3. Furthermore, there wasn't another Allan Pinkerton ( relative or son). Nina Brown has checked the American censuses going back to 1850 and the Scottish census of 1841....she located a total of four children...none named Frank. The children were : William, Isabella, Joan, and Robert.
    4. The Pinkerton's hired a ghost writer to create this book and the others. Allan Pinkerton played no part in the 1888 book.
    5. Nina also found a site ( Book Depository ) that labels books in the Pinkerton Series as being written under a pseudonym.

    Just in case anyone thought the great detective had anything to do with the 1888 book.

    Nina is trying to track down the ghost writer.


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  • #2
    I neglected to mention another reason why I looked into the background of this Pinkerton Detective Series book.....

    Currently...well, beginning in 1959 with Donald McCormick and probably preceding that book in 1958 ( Bernard O'Donnell's 'This Man Was Jack The Ripper")...there seems to be a modern tendency of writers to claim their books are factual when in fact they're using invented dialogue...the device McCormick used in 'The Identity of Jack The Ripper'.

    Two current books in question ( Prisoner 4374 about Neill Cream and the pending book by a fellow on Social Rip ( Facebook) fingering three IWMEC members as the murderers) contain factual accounts....like the Pinkerton books...yet aren't wholly factual.

    Some of the Pinkerton work, Spy Of The Rebellion, has so much invented dialogue, it reads like a television or film script. While it contains factual and verifiable accounts of events.....the repartee between the individuals in the story is, as was McCormick's invented dialogue....pure guesswork on the part of the author.
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    • #3
      I have a hunch that this journalist was Pinkerton's ghost writer...

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleveland_Moffett

      His name appears on several stories (Kindle) that I've been reading.

      He would have been 25 at the time of the murders ( Born in 1863 ).

      I'll keep at it............
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      • #4
        I don't know if this helps at all, How?

        The Internet archive says A. Frank Pinkerton was a pseudonym on some of the titles they list written by him, but according to the link below, one of A Frank Pinkerton's books had already been published (the title slightly changed) with the author's name given as Francis Farrar. There is discussion in the link that A Frank Pinkerton was Allan's son and that he may have either written the earlier novel under a pseudonym or plaguirised Farrar's original story.

        http://msusurplusbooks.tumblr.com/po...frisco-express

        I noticed in the Pinkerton series there are also a couple of books authored by a Myron Pinkerton and several other different authors.

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        • #5
          http://www.ebay.com/itm/Early-1900s-...-/361376074602

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          • #6
            Farrar may have been a woman, since the Americans used 'Francis' willy-nilly, if you'll forgive the term.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Robert Linford View Post
              Farrar may have been a woman, since the Americans used 'Francis' willy-nilly, if you'll forgive the term.
              Yes, I noticed that too, Robert. The Frank/Francis thing made me think both versions were written by the same author too, maybe using a pseudonym on both.

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              • #8
                Debs, you can read the Frisco Express book by Farrar(s) here, but I warn you, it's no match for Darcy Sarto.


                https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?...view=1up;seq=1

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                • #9
                  According to this, Allan Frank Pinkerton was a bandwaggon-hopper :


                  https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=...kerton&f=false

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                  • #10
                    Thanks very much for the ideas and posts, Debs n' Bob !!!
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                    • #11
                      Interesting stuff, Howard et al!

                      The following is discussion of A. F. Pinkerton's The Whitechapel Murders: An American Detective in London in David Schmid, Natural Born Celebrities: Serial Killers in American Culture, University of Chicago Press, 2006, pp. 46-47, on Google Books. Note how Schmid emphases "Pinkerton's" choice to make the killer "other" than English, which fits in with a number of English theories of the case.



                      Christopher T. George, Lyricist & Co-Author, "Jack the Musical"
                      https://www.facebook.com/JackTheMusical/ Hear sample song at https://tinyurl.com/y8h4envx.

                      Organizer, RipperCon #JacktheRipper-#True Crime Conferences, April 2016 and 2018.
                      Hear RipperCon 2016 & 2018 talks at http://www.casebook.org/podcast/.

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                      • #12
                        Thanks for that, Chris....
                        On a side note....
                        I wonder whether Schmid knew that the real Allan Pinkerton died years before the release of the 1888 book...because it doesn't look that way from here.
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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Howard Brown View Post
                          Thanks for that, Chris....
                          On a side note....
                          I wonder whether Schmid knew that the real Allan Pinkerton died years before the release of the 1888 book...because it doesn't look that way from here.
                          I came across another book which similarly mentions the Whitechapel paperback where the author also shows herself unaware of Allan Pinkerton's passing on July 1, 1884 as she states that he wrote the Whitechapel Murders/American Detective in London book!

                          The author is Kate Watson, writing in Women Writing Crime Fiction, 1860-1880: Fourteen American, British and Australian Authors, McFarland, 2012, also found on Google Books. Ms. Watson cites Edgar Allan Poe's detective fiction and then Pinkerton as influences on those women authors. See page 74 re para about Pinkerton:

                          Christopher T. George, Lyricist & Co-Author, "Jack the Musical"
                          https://www.facebook.com/JackTheMusical/ Hear sample song at https://tinyurl.com/y8h4envx.

                          Organizer, RipperCon #JacktheRipper-#True Crime Conferences, April 2016 and 2018.
                          Hear RipperCon 2016 & 2018 talks at http://www.casebook.org/podcast/.

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                          • #14
                            I came across another book which similarly mentions the Whitechapel paperback where the author also shows herself unaware of Allan Pinkerton's passing on July 1, 1884 as she states that he wrote the Whitechapel Murders/American Detective in London book!
                            -CG-

                            Thanks for this one too, CG.
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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Robert Linford View Post
                              Debs, you can read the Frisco Express book by Farrar(s) here, but I warn you, it's no match for Darcy Sarto.


                              https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?...view=1up;seq=1

                              Sounds like a Jackie Collins heroine.

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