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Rippercast Audio Archives: The Maybrick Diary

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  • Rippercast Audio Archives: The Maybrick Diary

    Thread for download links and discussion of the eight Audio Archive recordings about the Maybrick Diary.

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  • #2
    Rippercast Audio Archive Series:
    The Maybrick Diary
    Part One: May-June 1991 – January 1995
    The story of the Maybrick Diary began-or rather one of the stories began- when Michael Barrett, an out-of-work scrap dealer and sometime journalist, was helping his friend Tony Devereaux. Tony had suffered a fall and relied on Barrett to run errands. On one visit in the early summer of 1991 Deveraux handed Barrett an object wrapped in brown parcel paper saying “Here, that’s for you, Mick. Take it home and do something with it.”
    And that he did.
    After researching the murders of Jack the Ripper and lives of the Maybrick family for nearly a year, with the intention, Barrett said, of determining the diary’s authenticity, he rang up Rupert Crew Ltd, a London based literary agency. It was 9 March, 1992.
    “I’ve got Jack the Ripper’s diary, would you like to see it?” They certainly did, and so he boarded a train bound for London to meet with Doreen Montgomery and Shirley Harrison.
    What they saw was a Victorian hard backed scrapbook bound in black cloth. It was missing its first 48 pages, which had been cut out with a knife, had 17 pages left blank at the end, and in between, a 63 page manuscript written in black ink that now appeared grey with age. Its plot centered on the writer suspecting his wife of infidelity, and, as he descends deeper into madness and arsenic addiction, he savagely murders prostitutes as a way to exact revenge. In the pages of the diary he confesses to murdering five women in Whitechapel - ‘the canonical five’- plus two more elsewhere, and closes the diary with the words:
    “I give my name that all know of me, so history do tell, what love can do to a gentleman born.
    Yours Truly,
    Jack the Ripper”
    The scrapbook dated from the correct time period, the ink certainly looked old, and both Montgomery and Harrison leaned towards believing Barrett’s story. But, they also recognized problems. Tony Deveraux had died shortly after handing over the diary, so he couldn’t be questioned as to how he came to possess it. An expert on period manuscripts would be called, testing the diary’s ink, paper and handwriting was required, and Ripperologists would need to be consulted before the manuscript could be declared authentic. Little did they realize that the seemingly simple questions of ‘when was the diary written and who wrote it?’ would become an extended drama that would tear apart marriages, damage friendships, lead to lawsuits- and never receive a definitive answer.
    Two specialists of nineteenth-century manuscripts, one a curator at the British Museum and the other an antiquarian bookseller, were immediately contacted to examine the diary and both agreed that the scrap book and writing were consistent for it dating from the late 1800s. This was good news. So good, in fact, that a Collaboration Agreement was drawn up between Barrett, Barrett’s wife Anne, and Shirley Harrison, with Rupert Crew Ltd acting as their agent, before any scientific testing had been done. They would need to find a publisher first.
    Robert Smith of Smith Gryphon Ltd had read and examined the diary along with Ripper historian Keith Skinner before successfully bidding for the publishing rights and signing a contract with Michael Barrett and Shirley Harrison on the 29th of July, 1992. Anne Barrett, Mike’s wife and a party in the Collaboration Agreement, seemed disinterested in the whole affair. She had refused to travel to London to take part in negotiations and wanted no part in any of the book’s eventual royalties.
    The publishing advance paid for crucial forensic testing but the first analysis of the diary’s ink, by Dr. Baxendale of Document Evidence Ltd in Birmingham, turned into a disaster. Baxendale eventually had to issue three reports, each one doubting the preceding report and only in the third and final analysis did he state, conditionally, the possibility that the ink might belong to the late Victorian period. Unfortunately, The Sunday Times, who a decade earlier to its own embarrassment had championed The Hitler Diaries, would later run a major expose based only on Baxendale’s first report, which he had since retracted, that trumpeted the Ripper Diary to the British public as a fake.
    The second round of ink testing done by one Dr. Nicholas Eastaugh was more certain of itself, and definitive. Contradicting the wavering reports issued by Baxendale, Eastaugh concluded that nothing in the chemical composition of the ink suggested a modern origin. Dr. Eastaugh’s analysis was then put to the test by scientists at the University of Leeds and again at Staffordshire University, and both labs concurred with Eastaugh, ruling that the ink could be Victorian.
    Shirley Harrison next turned to a team of Ripperologists to study the contents of the Diary: Keith Skinner, Paul Begg and Martin Fido, co-authors of the encyclopedia on the case The Jack the Ripper A-Z. While the three experts were impressed that nothing in the diary misstated the known facts of the Whitechapel murders, nor did the known movements of James Maybrick preclude him being the perpetrator, they each held differing opinions on the diary’s authenticity. Keith Skinner viewing it favorably, Paul Begg remaining skeptical but open-minded, and Martin Fido convinced that the Diary was a modern forgery, but that the forger was incredibly lucky.
    While the Ripperologists along with Shirley Harrison were researching the lives of James and Florence Maybrick against the text of the diary, another individual interested in making a film about the Ripper was hovering around the scene, and would soon take a starring role in the Diary drama himself. His name was Paul Feldman.
    Feldman got wind of the diary’s existence after speaking to Donald Rumbelow about a project centered on Ripper suspect Montague John Druitt. He then met with Paul Begg and Keith Skinner who, abiding by a confidentiality agreement, couldn’t reveal anything to him other than confirm that a diary existed. But Feldman was a driven researcher, and shortly after their meeting he made the Maybrick connection to the diary on his own.
    At that moment Paul Feldman became the only person who knew what all the other
    participants were trying to keep from the press and public – that the rumoured Diary’s
    author was James Maybrick – and unlike the others, Feldman had not signed a confidentiality agreement.
    On December 4th 1992, Feldman met with Robert Smith and provisionally secured the video rights to the book. This was subject to validation by his own expert, Anna Koren, a graphologist who had worked for the Israeli Defence Ministry, Police and Defence Force and had given evidence in many fraud trials in Europe. Feldman arranged to fly Koren from Israel to London and on December 23rd 1992, after studying the Diary in Feldman’s office, Feldman asked Koren his key question. “Could it have been forged?” “Impossible” came the emphatic reply. Paul Feldman was on board and ‘Diary Land’ was born, but it would be far from the happiest place on earth.

    By the beginning of 1993, Feldman had assembled his team of experts consisting of Paul
    Begg, Ripper author Melvyn Fairclough and Martin Howells, who had been brought over from New Zealand to script and direct Feldman’s video. They began by investigating a Battlecrease origin for the Diary being discovered by electricians doing renovation work in James Maybrick’s former home ,in the late 1980s, and finding its way into the hands of Tony Devereux. This line of enquiry was later abandoned when Feldman became suspicious the electricians were just playing him for money.
    But serious cracks had already begun to appear in the relationship between SmithGryphon and Paul Feldman’s company, Duocrave. Both men were working jointly on a commercial project where book and video would have the same conclusion. Both had considerable financial investment in the enterprise. But Feldman’s team interpretation of the Diary did not chime with Smith and Harrisons reading of the Diary. As one of Feldman’s first acts, on February 10th 1993 he threatened Smith Gryphon with a lawsuit demanding access to all of the research and materials which had been collected since June 1992. He next tried to buy the Diary itself from Michael Barrett. Feldman failed in his bid and on March 23rd 1993 ownership of the Diary was transferred from Barrett to Smith Gryphon for the nominal figure of £1.

    In April 1993 the press broke the story that a new book was to be published later that year claiming James Maybrick was Jack The Ripper, based on a diary which had been found in Liverpool. Warner Books and The Sunday Times secured the American rights respectively and The Sunday Times called in their own team of experts to investigate.

    Led by historical document expert Ken Rendell, among their tests was a comparison of the handwriting from the will with that in the Diary. Rendell concluded that, assuming the will was written by Maybrick, then the Diary definitely was not. But there’s more. Rendell also questioned the style of the handwriting being that of a Victorian, the un-Victorian language used, the uniform ink pressure- which suggested the document was written in a single sitting, and the fact it was all written inside of a scrapbook instead of an actual Diary book. Rendell’s report pronounced the Diary as a hoax, and Time-Warner pulled out.
    As the world’s press trumpeted the Diary as a fake, Robert Smith was not discouraged. He believed the ink tests had put the Diary’s composition in the right 19th century decade and that the Rendell report had ignored evidence that pointed to Maybrick’s will being forged. Plus, he held another card to play, and it came in the form of a pocketwatch.
    On June 3rd 1993, just two months before the hardback edition of The Diary of Jack The Ripper was due at the printers, Robert Smith received a telephone call from a man in Liverpool named Albert Johnson. “I think I’ve got James Maybrick’s watch” Mr Johnson told Smith and proceeded to tell him his story.
    In the summer of 1992 he had purchased a Victorian pocket watch from a jewellers in Wallasey as an investment gift for his granddaughter. 10 months later, as he was showing it off to fellow co-workers they noticed odd scratches on the inside back of the watch. Clearly viewable under a microscope were the words “I am Jack”, “J Maybrick” and the initials of all of the canonical victims of Jack the Ripper. When the owners of the shop that sold the watch were questioned, they said that the watch had come to as old stock from an antique store. Now the jeweller’s shop said they had the watch cleaned around 1990 or 91, or two years before Albert Johnson purchased it and possibly several months before Barrett claimed he had acquired the Diary. But the man who serviced the watch said this happened in 1992, making it equally possible that the scratches were made inside of the watch at the same time Mike Barrett was seeking a publisher for the Diary. How old were the scratches? When a scientist tested it using an electron microscope he determined that the markings were at least a decade old, and possibly much older. The provenance of what quickly became known as “the Maybrick Watch” caused disruption among those who claimed that the Diary was a recent hoax.
    On July 30th 1993 the Washington Post ran a highly damaging article about the Diary, as a result of which Warner Books decided they would launch their own investigation saying they would cancel the book if doubts as to its legitimacy were not resolved.
    Led by historical document expert Ken Rendell, among their tests was a comparison of the handwriting from the will with that in the Diary. Rendell concluded that, assuming the will was written by Maybrick, then the Diary definitely was not. But there’s more. Rendell also questioned the style of the handwriting being that of a Victorian, the un-Victorian language used, the uniform ink pressure- which suggested the document was written in a single sitting, and the fact it was all written inside of a scrapbook instead of an actual Diary book. Rendell’s report pronounced the Diary as a hoax, and Time-Warner pulled out.

    On September 19th 1993, The Sunday Times, under a headline that screamed ‘Fake’, launched the results of its own investigation into the Diary. Their conclusion was highly damaging. Worse was to follow as The Sunday Times instigated an investigation by Scotland Yard’s Organised Crime Squad to determine whether Robert Smith, as the publisher, had attempted knowingly to pass off a fake document as genuine. Were Smith to be found guilty a custodial sentence was not beyond the bounds of possibility.

    On October 4th 1993 the hardback version of Shirley Harrison’s The Diary of Jack The Ripper was published in Britain with a sticker on the book’s cover that read ‘Is it Genuine? Read the evidence, then judge for yourself.’ Ironically the book reached number 6 in The Sunday Times’s own best seller list.

    Throughout all of 1993, after Paul Feldman had become involved with the project, it was becoming abundantly clear that Michael Barrett was not handling the situation well. He was likeable and engaging when sober, but another side would emerge when he was drinking, a circumstance that was occurring with increasing frequency. On January 2nd 1994, just three months after the The Diary of Jack The Ripper was published, Anne Barrett left him, taking their thirteen year old daughter with her. The marriage was over.

    Paul Feldman who had never swayed from his belief the Diary was genuine was now beginning to explore a theory that its true provenance was to be found in Mike Barrett’s family or Anne Graham’s family. He set out to examine – some would say intrude – into the lives of the Barretts, their parents and grandparents to see if he could find a genealogical source for the Diary.

    And then Michael Barrett dropped a bomb.

    On June 25th 1994, just over two years since he took the Diary to London, he confessed to writing it, declaring himself to be the greatest forger in history.

    Barrett’s solicitor retracted the confession on June 30th 1994 on behalf of Barrett who was then in the alcohol treatment unit of Fazakerley Hospital in Liverpool. The solicitor maintained that Barrett was not in full control of his faculties when he made that statement which was totally incorrect and without foundation.
    But the damage had been done. All those who argued that the Diary was a modern forgery felt vindicated and the press, who had long since declared the diary to be a hoax, declared victory in banner headlines. No one in either Diary camp however, having known Michael Barrett for over two years, could believe that he was capable of forging the Diary.

    Paul Feldman’s investigation into the lives of Barrett and Graham intensified to the point of convincing himself, and then attempting to convince them, that they were not who they said they were; that both of them, but Barrett in particular, were involved in some shadowy conspiracy concerning the Diary, which Feldman had busted into. They were living under false identities, in a plot possibly orchestrated by the Government, to protect the truth of the Diary ever becoming known. Anne Graham had had enough. On July 20th 1994 she telephoned Paul Feldman with the hopes of putting an end to it all. A meeting was arranged.
    Over the course of the next eleven days, Feldman learned from a series of interviews he had with Anne Graham and her father, Billy Graham, that Billy had first become aware of the Diary’s existence in 1943. At Christmas 1950, Billy’s stepmother, Edith Formby, had taken round to him a suitcase containing various books and documents which he had entrusted to her care during the war and in the suitcase was the Diary. His step grandmother (Elizabeth Formby) had left it to him. There was an oral tradition in the family that Elizabeth Formby was a great friend of the nurse who worked at Battlecrease House and Elizabeth had accompanied her to the trial of Florence Maybrick where she gave evidence. Anne first came across the Diary in 1968 when she was 18 and was helping her father move house. In Anne’s bedroom was a fitted cupboard and she discovered the Diary in a large metal trunk at the back of the cupboard. She recognised the name of Battlecrease and the names of Bobo and Gladys as she had grown up with tales of Liverpool which included the story of Florence Maybrick, but beyond that had very little interest in the Diary. Anne’s father had given her the Diary in 1989 when he was moving into sheltered accommodation and Anne had given it to Tony Devereux in the Spring of 1991 asking him to pass it on to Mike, without revealing the source, and to tell Mike to “do something with it.” In an interview between Feldman, Anne and her father, Billy Graham seemed to suggest that his father, born 1879, might have been an illegitimate child of Florence Chandler before she met James Maybrick.
    In the Introduction to her book, The Last Victim, co authored with Carol Emmas and published in 1999, Anne Graham writes about this period in her life.
    “It never occurred to me, when my father gave me the journal, to do anything
    with it. At that time I still knew very little about Jack the Ripper and had no
    interest in the subject at all. I had a busy life with a full-time career, a child and
    a husband who had been ill for several years. It was also during this time that
    I was forced to admit that our once content, sixteen year-marriage had entered
    a most unhappy and destructive period.
    With little thought of the long term consequences and knowing that my partner,
    Michael Barrett, had a burning ambition to write, I gave him the journal, via a
    third person, with the hope that he would take an interest in it and use its contents
    as a basis for a fictional book.
    Its appearance in such a torturous way seemed perfectly logical to me during this
    unhappy and confusing time. I did not want to burden him with the knowledge
    that the idea for a book had originated with me. I also needed to protect my
    elderly father from a barrage of questions when his health was in a fragile state.
    Little did I realise that what had began as a private deception in an attempt to
    heal a rapidly deteriorating and painful relationship, would have such far reaching
    It was some two years afterwards, [July 1994], well after the marriage had broken
    down completely, that I confessed the journal’s origins to Paul Feldman, who had
    produced the video of the book. With an agonising divorce looming ahead, a sick
    parent and a new life to make for myself and a teenage daughter, I had every
    reason to leave the past behind, and with it the journal. My foolish actions had
    unhappily and unwittingly touched a great many lives, causing anger and misery.
    Not knowing what to do for the best, I did nothing.
    That was until the summer of 1994, when Paul Feldman, like an enthusiastic
    blood-hound, came bounding dramatically back into my life. He had personally
    invested many tens of thousands of pounds on researching the journal’s provenance
    and was not a man to leave any stone unturned in his investigation. Recently his
    researchers had discovered that at one point in her history Florence had called
    herself ‘Mrs Graham’ and as my maiden name is Graham, his investigations were
    now firmly centred on me.
    His continual questioning of my friends and family left me feeling resentful and
    guilty, and after one particular episode he had left a kind friend close to tears.
    I angrily telephoned him in London. During a four hour telephone conversation
    which quickly developed into a verbal battle and ended in mutual respect, we
    arranged a meeting.”

    In the final months of 1994, Michael Barrett had retracted the retraction given by his solicitor and was again claiming, to anyone who would listen, that he had forged the diary. One of those to whom he confessed anew was former policeman and private detective Alan Gray. After conducting a cursory investigation of Barrett’s story, Barrett sat down with solicitors and essentially repeated his confession to Gray as a sworn affidavit. It would be the most detailed account of his forging of the Diary he would give, and he signed it on 5 January, 1995.
    Two days later on the evening of Saturday January 7th 1995, unaware of Barrett’s sworn affidavit, Paul Feldman, Anne Graham, Paul Begg, Shirley Harrison, Keith Skinner and interested members of the newly formed Cloak and Dagger Club, gathered in a pub called the Alma in the heart of Whitechapel, London for its first ever meeting. It was to be a talk given by Paul Feldman about the Diary.



    • #3
      Hosted by Keeley Wilson
      Theme music 'A Violet From Mother's Grave' performed by Jonathan Davies
      Artwork by Andrew Firth
      With Special Thanks to Robert McLaughlin, Karl Coppack, Jon Rees, James Johnston, Keith Skinner, Paul Begg and Caroline Morris

      Suggested Reading:

      The Diary of Jack the Ripper: The Discovery, the Investigation, the Debate by Shirley Harrison.

      Ripper Diary: The Inside Story by Seth Linder, Caroline Morris and Keith Skinner

      Jack the Ripper: The Final Chapter by Paul Feldman

      The Last Victim: The extraordinary life of Florence Maybrick, the wife of Jack the Ripper


      25 Years of the Diary of Jack the Ripper” The True Facts by Robert Smith- soon to be released in a revised edition entitled The True History of the Diary of Jack the Ripper in July, 2019 from Mango Books.

      Thank you for listening,

      Last edited by jmenges; 06-21-2019, 01:26 AM.


      • #4

        Paul Feldman with Anne Graham at the Cloak and Dagger Club 7 January, 1995

        Click image for larger version

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        Available to stream or download now at the link below:

        Also on Stitcher, iTunes & Google Podcasts, MixCloud, TuneIn Radio and the podcast app of your choice.



        • #5
          Hi JM -- Thanks for the links. If you don't mind me asking, who wrote post #2? I'm not interested in arguing any of the comments; I'm just interested in knowing who I am reading. Is this your summary, Keeley Wilson's summary, or that of someone else? Thanks.


          • #6
            Hi RJ,
            I wrote it and then sent it to Keith Skinner who provided some helpful advice and and a few suggestions.



            • #7
              Originally posted by rjpalmer View Post
              I'm not interested in arguing any of the comments;
              By the way...I encourage you to make any critical comments you may have as I value your opinions, and the text may later be released in audio format through the podcast.
              I did notice that I repeated my self once. It's kind of a draft.



              • #8
                Thanks, JM. No; no critiques or complaints--I was just curious. I haven't yet listen to any of the audio, but I'm looking forward to setting a couple hours aside sometime this week for the Paul Feldman segment.

                Feldman's book was unique for the time, and perhaps it still is. I had previously read Rumbelow and (I think) Tom Cullen, but these were straight forward histories, more or less; by contrast, Paul Feldman's The Final Chapter was a wild trip into the sub-world of "Ripperology"--one man's attempt to solve the mystery, complete with a cast of eccentric characters and a whirlwind of speculation. Love him or dismiss him, Feldman bubbled with crazy energy, and though I ultimately finished his book a die-hard 'Diary Doubter,' it was difficult not to get caught up in the ups and downs of his fascinating investigation. I think a number of people, including Stephen Ryder (?), caught the bug from Feldman.


                • #9

                  Mike Barrett on BBC Radio Merseyside 13 & 20 Sept 1995
                  June 26th, 2019
                  Duration: 00:57:51

                  Our second release from the Maybrick Diary audio archives is Mike Barrett on BBC Radio Merseyside, aired on the 13th and 20th of September, 1995.

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                  Interviewed by Bob Azurdia, who does a fine job.

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                  David Orsam transcribed the interview here:

                  Available to stream or download now from the following link:

                  Thank you for listening,

                  Last edited by jmenges; 06-27-2019, 12:25 AM.


                  • #10
                    Excellent archival material and exhaustive background, thanks JM.

                    The modern intrigue surrounding the Diary could be a book in and of itself and like any decent macguffin, no matter the authenticity, the saga Diary, the experts, laypeople, loyalties and betrayals is so rich as to be nothing else but compelling.

                    I’ve gone from “the notion of a diary by JtR is as ludicrous as someone finding Geoffrey Dahmer’s calorie counting/dating diary” TO “it’s just too engaging and inciteful - if it is a forgery it’s an excellent one”

                    Thank you for this archival treasure trove - might Rippercast have the time and money to compose an S-Town style docucast on the subject? You’re the people for the job!


                    • #11
                      Thanks for your comments, Fantomas.
                      I agree that the saga is very compelling. Literary forgeries and determining the pedigree of historical documents is a subject I find fascinating and the story of Ripperology and the Maybrick Diary contains more than enough debate, human drama and colorful personalities to justify a highly produced, marketable account of the time period.


                      Originally posted by Fantomas View Post
                      - might Rippercast have the time and money to compose an S-Town style docucast on the subject? You’re the people for the job!
                      I'm afraid not. Rippercast has never asked for, nor received, a single cent for what we've been doing for over a decade and so do not have resources on par with a This American Life or indeed several other more recent "true crime" podcasts who seek viral recognition and beg their listeners for money. We'll always release free content by and for this rather niche community rather than aim for a mass-audience as this is our home.



                      • #12
                        Thanks for continuing to curate/upload podcasts for us Jonathan.
                        Also, I do prefer the new intro to the older one with The Smiths songs.
                        I like a lot of music but I've never liked The Smiths. I caught them live a few times supporting other groups, around 1983, before they became well known and never liked that jangly guitar sound or Morrissey's voice.
                        And considering some of Morrissey's views these days e.g. supporting For Britain, good riddance I say.
                        I hope I never hear them again at the start of a podcast. Pretty please.
                        These are not clues, Fred.
                        It is not yarn leading us to the dark heart of this place.
                        They are half-glimpsed imaginings, tangle of shadows.
                        And you and I floundering at them in the ever vainer hope that we might corral them into meaning when we will not.
                        We will not.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Ozzy View Post
                          Thanks for continuing to curate/upload podcasts for us Jonathan.
                          Also, I do prefer the new intro to the older one with The Smiths songs.

                          I hope I never hear them again at the start of a podcast. Pretty please.
                          Thank you, Ozzy.
                          You won't.



                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Ozzy View Post
                            I like a lot of music but I've never liked The Smiths.
                            Morrissey and The Smiths wrote great music, especially when someone else sang the songs. Don't mess with the original.


                            • #15
                              Our third release from the Maybrick Diary audio archives is Shirley Harrison, author of the book 'The Diary of Jack the Ripper' interviewed by Bob Azurdia on BBC Radio Merseyside, which aired on the 27th of September, 1995.

                              Click image for larger version

Name:	dda2112c-53f2-48ab-bd1a-8878a224c365.jpg
Views:	924
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ID:	715812

                              Available to stream or download now at the following link:

                              Also in Apple & Google Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn Radio, or whichever podcast app you prefer.

                              Thank you for listening...more to come.