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Some questions about the "From Hell" letter

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  • Some questions about the "From Hell" letter

    I wonder if anyone could help with some or all of the following which I have wondered about for a very long time:
    1) Am I right in saying that the whereabouts of the ORIGINAL of the From Hell letter is now unknown?
    2) Is it more likely that the From Hell letter was destroyed or stolen?
    3) When was the original last definitely seen in police files?
    4) When was the original photographed and by whom?
    5) Was a copy of the From Hell letter ever circulated either by poster and/or in the press as was the case with the Dear Boss letter and the Saucy Jacky postcard? If not what motives could there have been for photographing it?
    6) When and where was the photograph of the From Hell letter discovered?

    Any help on any of these points would be very gratefully received
    Chris

  • #2
    As far as I'm aware, Chris, the From hell letter went missing from the official files in the Seventies, presumed stolen. Fortunately, since the PRO had already adopted a policy of microfilming extant files, a copy of the original survived.

    The original, to the best of my knowledge, was never circulated as a facsimile a la Dear Boss, but The Times certainly reproduced its text within days of Lusk receiving it.

    Regards.

    Garry Wroe.

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    • #3
      Here's what the page in the wiki section, written by John Bennett, has to say:
      The Lusk Letter has been missing for many years. The last official information regarding its whereabouts was on 20th-24th October 1888 when it was photographed by City Police and then returned to the Metropolitan Police[7]. Although there are rumours of its subsequent whereabouts, none of the claims have any supporting evidence; this includes it being in the possession of a Canadian collector in the 1960s[8]. A facsimile was first published in an article by Professor Francis Camps in 1966[9] and a copy is on display in the London Hospital museum in Newark Street, Whitechapel.
      http://wiki.casebook.org/index.php/Lusk_Letter

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      • #4
        Check out the Ripper Wiki article, which may answer some of these questions.

        http://wiki.casebook.org/index.php/Lusk_Letter

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Garry Wroe View Post
          As far as I'm aware, Chris, the From hell letter went missing from the official files in the Seventies, presumed stolen. Fortunately, since the PRO had already adopted a policy of microfilming extant files, a copy of the original survived.

          The original, to the best of my knowledge, was never circulated as a facsimile a la Dear Boss, but The Times certainly reproduced its text within days of Lusk receiving it.

          Regards.

          Garry Wroe.
          Dear Chris,

          in "JTR, Letters from Hell", Evans and Skinner qoute a report by Insp. James Mc. William dated 27th Oct 1888. This states in part:

          "On the 16th Inst. Mr Lusk No. 1 Alderney Road, Mile End, Chairman of the East End Vigilance Committee received by post a packet containing half of a kidney and a letter photograph copy of which I attach hereto".

          Later, he states, "Chief Inspector Swanson having lent me the letter on the 20th Inst. I had it photographed & returned it to him on the 24th."

          This would indicate that Inspector Mc. William was the first to photograph the letter. But where does the colour reproduction come from?

          Best wishes,

          Steve.

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          • #6
            The Lusk Letter

            I think that the replies above have just about covered the questions.

            The whereabouts of the original 'From hell' letter is unknown and it is not even known if it still exists. In answer to question 2, I should say that it is more likely that it was taken as a souvenir, probably by a police officer, at some time in the past. As such, if it still exists it is in private hands, probably a collector.

            As John has pointed out there is no mention of it after Inspector McWilliam's report of 27 October 1888 (HO 144/221/A49301C ff. 163-170) where he states that the City Police have photographed it and returned the original to the Metropolitan Police (see folio 169) from whom they had received it.

            I do not know of a copy of the letter being circulated as a poster or in the press. It was photographed by the City Police as it accompanied a section of kidney purported to be from Eddowes which was their case. There would have been a few copies of this photograph made and we know that copies were sent to the Home Office and the London Hospital.

            You may still see this original photograph at the London Hospital and it is from this copy that it was published in the London Hospital Gazette for April 1966, in Professor Camps' article 'More on Jack the Ripper.' This was the first publication, to my knowledge, of this photograph. I went to the London Hospital in August 1967 and purchased this copy of the Gazette from their library.

            Don Rumbelow seems convinced that the original letter was in City Police hands in the 1960s and that it was from there that it went missing. If that is the case then the letter must have been returned after October 1888 by the Metropolitan Police to the City Police. It was here that the 'Canadian collector' story originated.

            The original photographs are not in colour as there was no colour photography then, they are sepia.
            SPE

            Treat me gently I'm a newbie.

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            • #7
              "I do not know of a copy of the letter being circulated as a poster or in the press."

              Hi Stewart,

              I wonder that the materials that Sam Hardy discovered in the basement of the London Hospital weren't on display in the pathological museum during Dr. Openshaw's life, since he was its curator. I'm assuming that they made their way to London Hospital as supplements to Openshaw's examination of the kidney, and not deposited there at some later date (that may be wrong, I don't really know).

              Dave
              Last edited by Dave O; 03-25-2010, 07:46 AM.

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              • #8
                Many thanks to all respondents on this thread which has been very useful
                Thanks guys
                Chris S

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                • #9
                  Yes

                  Originally posted by Dave O View Post
                  "I do not know of a copy of the letter being circulated as a poster or in the press."
                  Hi Stewart,
                  I wonder that the materials that Sam Hardy discovered in the basement of the London Hospital weren't on display in the pathological museum during Dr. Openshaw's life, since he was its curator. I'm assuming that they made their way to London Hospital as supplements to Openshaw's examination of the kidney, and not deposited there at some later date (that may be wrong, I don't really know).
                  Dave
                  Yes Dave, this may well have been the case.
                  SPE

                  Treat me gently I'm a newbie.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Stewart P Evans View Post
                    I think that the replies above have just about covered the questions.

                    The whereabouts of the original 'From hell' letter is unknown and it is not even known if it still exists. In answer to question 2, I should say that it is more likely that it was taken as a souvenir, probably by a police officer, at some time in the past. As such, if it still exists it is in private hands, probably a collector.
                    The good thing if a private collector has it they will take care of it. The bad thing that private collectors are so unwilling to share.

                    It really infuriates me that people think they have a right to take public property like that

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                    • #11
                      Inquiries

                      Was George Lusk ever called to testify inany on the inquests? I note that his name is not listed on the witness boards for the forums or for the site itself. I would think they would have called him.
                      Neil "Those who forget History are doomed to repeat it." - Santayana

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