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Why Choose Jack the Ripper As A Name

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  • Why Choose Jack the Ripper As A Name

    There was a great deal of interesting discussion recently on a thread which centred on the Goulston Street Graffito - based on the supposition that the killer wrote it. Along the same lines, I would like to look at the "Jack the Ripper" soubriquet which, as everyone here will know was first used in the "Dear Boss" letter.

    I know most authorities believe this item to be the work of an 'enterprising journalist', but there have been any number of threads on the subject of authorship. This one starts from the premise that the "Dear Boss" is genuine, so please - no comments disputing authorship. Just "Why Jack?" and "Why Ripper?".

    Just to start the thing off, I've seen (on learn-genealogy.com) that a "ripper" was someone who sold fish. Specifically, I believe that it was someone who brought fish up-river to sell inland. Could "using the trade name" be a reference, not to murder, but to the writer's genuine occupation? A fishmonger perhaps?
    "It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data. Insensibly one begins twisting facts to suit theories instead of theories to suit facts." Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (as Sherlock Holmes).

  • #2
    Hi Bridewell,

    The name was chosen because it sounded more compelling than "Kosminski the Kukri", "Druitt the Dagger" or "Clarence the Cleaver".

    The name "Jack the Ripper" was [and remains] an example of marketing genius.

    Regards,

    Simon
    Never believe anything until it has been officially denied.

    Comment


    • #3
      you said don't bring up a discussion of authorship, which is fine. but then ask if it could have been a reference to his actual profession. I doubt that very much because I think there's almost zero chance whatsoever that the letter was written by the killer.

      Jack is common. union jack, jack of all trades, jack and the beanstalk, jack and jill, jack and the candlestick. very common, broadly used name.

      it was also common for people to be called by their trade name. Steve the Butcher, Harry the Hawker, James the Bootmaker. etc.

      the killer ripped people open.

      "Jack the Ripper". Sounds a lot better than Jack the Killer or something. like the other person said, the journalist who came up with the name struck marketing gold.

      Comment


      • #4
        Good grief, I agree with Simon but indeed, Jack the Ripper was a bit of marketing genius, or as I wrote once in a Ripperologist editorial, branding at its best. I daresay that we would not be talking today about those few murders in Whitechapel in 1888 were it not for the name.

        A glance at Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable should supply the why for Jack -- from Jack Frost to Jack the Ripper, it was the Christian name of choice legendary characters. As for Ripper, nothing fishy about it I am sure.

        Don.
        "To expose [the Senator] is rather like performing acts of charity among the deserving poor; it needs to be done and it makes one feel good, but it does nothing to end the problem."

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Bridewell View Post
          There was a great deal of interesting discussion recently on a thread which centred on the Goulston Street Graffito - based on the supposition that the killer wrote it. Along the same lines, I would like to look at the "Jack the Ripper" soubriquet which, as everyone here will know was first used in the "Dear Boss" letter.

          I know most authorities believe this item to be the work of an 'enterprising journalist', but there have been any number of threads on the subject of authorship. This one starts from the premise that the "Dear Boss" is genuine, so please - no comments disputing authorship. Just "Why Jack?" and "Why Ripper?".

          Just to start the thing off, I've seen (on learn-genealogy.com) that a "ripper" was someone who sold fish. Specifically, I believe that it was someone who brought fish up-river to sell inland. Could "using the trade name" be a reference, not to murder, but to the writer's genuine occupation? A fishmonger perhaps?
          Hi Bridewell
          Despite what some of the above posters have said and many people beleive, the Dear Boss letters have never been proven a hoax and there is evidence within the letters themselves (cutting the ear, wanting to start again soon, number one squeled a bit) that point to them being authentic, not to mention the police took them very seriously at first. I've said before the biggest myth in Ripperworld are that they are a known hoax and its pretty irresponsible IMHO that people state that they are a hoax as if it was a proven fact.

          That being said-to your point-why Jack? Its a well known famous and infamous nickname: Spring heeled Jack, Black Jack, Calico Jack etc. Also, perhaps it was his actual nickname or his proper name was John.

          Why ripper?-In the letter itself he says he wont stop "ripping" them. And at the end he says dont mind me giving the trade name and refers to the murders as "work" so that perhaps how he saw himself.

          Also, serial killers who have named themselves in letters that are proven authentic-Zodiac and BTK (bind torture kill) come to mind- obviously get off on the publicity and there diabolical persona, so picking a catchy and/or scary nickname helps achieve that and if the Dear Boss letters are authentic than I imagine JtR was doing the same.
          "Is all that we see or seem
          but a dream within a dream?"

          -Edgar Allan Poe


          "...the man and the peaked cap he is said to have worn
          quite tallies with the descriptions I got of him."

          -Frederick G. Abberline

          Comment


          • #6
            Thinking of who, and what actions, the name stands for, it sounds harmless, even silly. It is making fun of the murders, the victims, the fear of the people.

            Something like 'your nice killer next door'.

            'Jack', being a common name, also has an undertone of 'everyman': "I could be everybody. You would not expect it's me."

            Comment


            • #7
              By Any Other Name...

              Without the "trade" name, the Whitechapel murders - at least all those prior to MJK - would still have been committed, would still have remained unsolved to this day, and would still have caused the almighty flap that the press, the police and the public were already in before the end of September, in that terribly unusual year for prostitute murders.

              I cannot accept that if it were not for the name published after the double event, or for the Miller's Court murder (allowing - very generously - for this to have been inspired solely by the name "Jack the Ripper"), the whole thing would have died a natural death and not be of any lasting interest today, given all the serial killer cases we have learned about since 1888.

              Does anyone seriously believe that the murders of Smith, Tabram, Nichols, Chapman, Stride and Eddowes would be of little or no interest to them, or to anyone else, without the silly little nickname attached to their supposed slayer? I would find that terribly depressing.

              I doubt that Christmas would mean as much to kids without "Santa", but do grown ups really need "Jack" to prod them into taking notice of a series of very real, very rare and truly horrific murders?

              It does seem so, considering the efforts by some to sweep the name under the carpet, as if by so doing the murders themselves will stick out less like a horrendously sore thumb in the statistics.

              Love,

              Caz
              X
              "Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious." Peter Ustinov


              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by caz View Post
                ... but do grown ups really need "Jack" to prod them into taking notice ...
                Yes. Do not think too much of adults.

                It is not only the name. Deep inside, we all know why 'people' (including ourselves) are interested in the case. It is the mixture of sex + gore + mystery + Victorian era with its cosy gaslight and prudish morals. It has also to do with the perception of serial killers as alpha males and problem solvers.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Because of Jack Sheridan.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Our Aussie contributors can also shed light on 'Ripper' as a term meaning an excellent fellow or thing. This may have still been current in British English at the time. Also used as an adjective I believe.

                    Best wishes,
                    Steve.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by caz View Post
                      Without the "trade" name, the Whitechapel murders - at least all those prior to MJK - would still have been committed, would still have remained unsolved to this day, and would still have caused the almighty flap that the press, the police and the public were already in before the end of September, in that terribly unusual year for prostitute murders.

                      I cannot accept that if it were not for the name published after the double event, or for the Miller's Court murder (allowing - very generously - for this to have been inspired solely by the name "Jack the Ripper"), the whole thing would have died a natural death and not be of any lasting interest today, given all the serial killer cases we have learned about since 1888.

                      Does anyone seriously believe that the murders of Smith, Tabram, Nichols, Chapman, Stride and Eddowes would be of little or no interest to them, or to anyone else, without the silly little nickname attached to their supposed slayer? I would find that terribly depressing.

                      I doubt that Christmas would mean as much to kids without "Santa", but do grown ups really need "Jack" to prod them into taking notice of a series of very real, very rare and truly horrific murders?

                      It does seem so, considering the efforts by some to sweep the name under the carpet, as if by so doing the murders themselves will stick out less like a horrendously sore thumb in the statistics.

                      Love,

                      Caz
                      X
                      Agree
                      We would all still talking about it and nothing would be different except we would be talking about the Whitechapel Murderer or some other nickname that someone would have come up with.
                      "Is all that we see or seem
                      but a dream within a dream?"

                      -Edgar Allan Poe


                      "...the man and the peaked cap he is said to have worn
                      quite tallies with the descriptions I got of him."

                      -Frederick G. Abberline

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Steven Russell View Post
                        Our Aussie contributors can also shed light on 'Ripper' as a term meaning an excellent fellow or thing. This may have still been current in British English at the time. Also used as an adjective I believe.

                        Best wishes,
                        Steve.
                        Yes but in this case "Rip" or "Ripper" is clearly meant to denote violence rather than what a super fellow he is.

                        Chris
                        Christopher T. George
                        Organizer, RipperCon #JacktheRipper-#True Crime Conference
                        just held in Baltimore, April 7-8, 2018.
                        For information about RipperCon, go to http://rippercon.com/
                        RipperCon 2018 talks can now be heard at http://www.casebook.org/podcast/

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Well, he didn't send it to the police, where it could be denied for eons or lost, and it did not go to a set paper to be scooped into print over other papers, so
                          it may have been a message on it's own. It can not be denied once the Central News has it, but if it would reach print they could edit out the name for identification purposes of future correspondence. Letters with "Boss" in the body, signed by Sal, Opie, or whoever would clearly be a fake. So without an actual paper in control of it, it is a rather large gamble how much becomes known. So if "Boss" seems American, what of this name? Someone of a stature like himself, that is American? Well, "Jack" could mean "John", and John Wilkes Booth was huge news for killing Lincoln. "Rip" does mean "pertaining to a river", and in America the British did employ the Chickasaws to control the Mississippi River for years. The Chickasaws beat the French, beat the Spanish, and well, they never lost. They were called "Unconquered, Unconquerable" since they did not lose in battle, and were guardians of the river for the British. So the name could imply "unconquerable killer", which the body of the letter seems to state.
                          I confess that altruistic and cynically selfish talk seem to me about equally unreal. With all humility, I think 'whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might,' infinitely more important than the vain attempt to love one's neighbour as one's self. If you want to hit a bird on the wing you must have all your will in focus, you must not be thinking about yourself, and equally, you must not be thinking about your neighbour; you must be living with your eye on that bird. Every achievement is a bird on the wing.
                          Oliver Wendell Holmes

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ChrisGeorge View Post
                            Yes but in this case "Rip" or "Ripper" is clearly meant to denote violence rather than what a super fellow he is.

                            Chris
                            I think both senses are meant.

                            Steve.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              When Polly Nichols was murdered, a 'High Rip Gang' was suspected first, that blackmailed and killed prostitutes. So the term 'to rip' was connected already to brutal murders, especially of prostitutes.

                              As the newspapers wrote about it, it became widely known.

                              Comment

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