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Your thoughts on The Five by Hallie Rubenhold???

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Al Bundy's Eyes View Post
    Hi and welcome.
    "Experts"? You'll start a whole new debate there...
    Oh, don't be so modest . . . I believe in you guys!


    • #17
      The balance of probability would seem to suggest that...


      • #18
        While the goal of presenting the canonical five as actual women rather than just victims was admirable, the book was executed rather poorly. I agree that she only presented information that supported her hypothesis, and twisted much of that. Many of her claims were not footnoted or supported at all. Overall, I was disappointed and her conduct on social media is appalling.


        • #19
          Hi all,

          I’m glad I read this before buying the book! From what I read, not worth it. Sleeping? In a backyard while she could have slept in the house, in Annies case? Or just in a corner of a square where cops passed through every 10-15 minutes? A new theory for certain!


          • #20
            It read like a Catherine Cookson novel to me. I fear this has TV mini series written all over it.

            Best Regards,



            • #21
              I thought this was a book worth reading. Some of her criticism is valid to my mind, but some not. Yes, painting all ripperologists as misogynistic is unfair but the assumption, by some, that these women were all active prostitutes is worthy of re-evaluation. It is quite reasonable to suggest that the evidence that all these women were actively prostituting themselves is sketchy - because it is. Stride was classed as a prostitute in her homeland because she had a child out of wedlock. After reaching the UK she is said to have been arrested only once for that offence but many times for drunkenness. Rubenhold suggests that the common thread between the victims is alcoholism rather than prostitution and I agree with her. Prostitution was involved but, whilst claiming that none of The Five was a prostitute flies in the face of the evidence, a blanket assumption, then and now, that all were prostitutes is unwarranted. This is a book which needed to be written and I like the fact that the author breaks off each account without going into a detailed description of the murders. There are thousands of books in the genre which focus on the deaths. This one keeps the emphasis on their lives and is all the better for that. 'The Five' is a worthwhile addition and I commend it. Yes, Hallie Rubenhold has a agenda but she is hardly unique in the field when so many supposedly revelatory volumes are simply trying to push a suspect, often on quite flimsy evidence.
              "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).


              • #22
                I’m going to read the book soon, having received it as a gift. I read the introduction and I was wondering how she would explain Annies murder. But indeed, Kate was found in an open square and Polly on the pavement. Rather odd placed the be asleep. I haven’t read beyond the intro yet, so I’m curious about the rest. I don’t agree that they have never had their lives told before, Begg has done that and there is an entire book written on them and their descendants (forgot the name and writer but I loved it!). Curious to read the rest of the book!


                • #23
                  I agree with Colin that many authors have an agenda in promoting a particular theory or suspect but the issue for me was that Rubenhold’s agenda was a particularly nasty low blow. It was even suggested by supporters that Ripperologist got some kind of sexual thrill from discussion of the murder and mutilation of women. This agenda has been carried on. She’s been given a free reign of none stop favourable reviews and comments. No one has ever said to any reviewer who has praised her research “what do you know about the subject to allow you you validate her research?” She won’t discuss her book and research with anyone that knows anything about the subject. Just with her band of disciples. She’s been proven to have used selective quoting to ‘prove’ a point but when does the public hear about this? And let’s be honest, the suggestion that these women were sleeping is laughable. Some might not have been actively soliciting at the time that they were killed but they all engaged in prostitution at times when they needed to. This isn’t a judgment on their character or morals it’s just a fact. It’s the hand that their unbelievably tough lives dealt them. There’s certainly some good things about her book but I struggle to find any respect for her or her followers.
                  Last edited by Herlock Sholmes; 12-25-2020, 10:27 PM.


                  “...A yellow fog swirls past the window-pane
                  As night descends upon this fabled street:
                  A lonely hansom splashes through the rain,
                  The ghostly gas lamps fail at twenty feet.
                  Here, though the world explode, these two survive,
                  And it is always eighteen ninety-five.”


                  • #24
                    Herlock Sholmes, I don’t know the author or the book yet but as to the rest, I quite agree with you.


                    • #25
                      I’ve finished the chapters on Mary Ann Nichols and indeed, things are left out or represented differently. Her arrest on Trafalgar Square is mentioned but not her arrests for other petty crimes, amongst which was prostitution. All things that were written about the inquest are glossed over as “misheard or sensationalised”. I liked the parts about her life previous to her murder (although it was cleaned up too) if just to get an idea if what life was like for the poorer people back then. The bits about the evening of murder and the inquest etc are just ridiculous, she even misquoted was William Nichols said.


                      • #26
                        I was one of the proverbial 'lambs' thrown upon the Twitter pyre for having the audacity to suggest she was using pseudo-feminsim as an agenda to drive sales of a book that blatantly ignores, and even worse, re-writes primary source material. As the 'historical expert' she had a duty of care for accuracy. Who made her moral arbiter to decide which testimonies and records of the time should be ignored because they were likely misogynistic? It's incredibly dismissive and arrogant of her.

                        It's this desire to re-write history with a modern contextual slant to appeal to the woke generation I find indigestible.

                        Park that, and actually some of the research was not bad quality and it could have been an excellent reference book. Instead she took the PR angle and cynically exploited modern sensitivities to sell more copies of her book, and it worked.
                        Last edited by erobitha; 01-22-2021, 10:06 PM.
                        "When the legend becomes fact... print the legend"
                        - The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)


                        • #27
                          Originally posted by erobitha View Post
                          Who made her moral arbiter to decide which testimonies and records of the time should be ignored because they were likely misogynistic? .
                          Hi Ero,

                          It could be argued that when anyone stands up against an established view, or who wants to question the established view and more so the people behind it, asking where they got that authority or "right" from is self defeating, as is questioning why she is the the moral arbiter. She is, because she is the person in a position and with voice to ask these questions and make these scathing allegations. Which is all well and good, but drawing on a point you made in the above post:

                          "a book that blatantly ignores, and even worse, re-writes primary source material."

                          That changes the game. That's creating your own narrative. That's going to get called out. And it totally voids the initial motive, assuming it was genuine. It's not tolerated in any other field of history.

                          I truly wonder, how many of her vocal followers have actually looked at whether Mary Kelly was trafficked to Paris? That Polly wasn't out to earn a few pence for a bed the easiest way she knew how in the early hours. It takes time, maybe a long time, but I believe that Hallie's book will be viewed as the distorted nonsense it is.
                          Thems the Vagaries.....


                          • #28
                            “ It takes time, maybe a long time, but I believe that Hallie's book will be viewed as the distorted nonsense it is.“ There are already several negative reviews on eg Amazon. Including mine.

                            I coukdn’t agree more with her stand that they weren’t “just” prostitutes and so deserved to die. Her last sentence: they were human beings and that should be enough, is completely correct. As for the rest, especially in the cases of Mary Jane and Kate, she just leaves out all sorts of witnesses who saw them with a man. And nowhere does she clearly state how the Ripper came upon them. Why would he go into a small passageway to pull out the rags of Kellys broken window to see if he could reach the latch, provided she was alone or at home in the first place. Why enter a yard to kill, when all the inhabitants of the house had to pass there if they needed the toilet, when there were any number of women sleeping rough in open, easily escapable spots? Why would Kate end up in Mitre Square to sleep? And if it was a spot where the homeless regularly slept, why weren’t there more homeless people around?

                            I liked the book for the background information on life in The poorer areas in Victorian times but the reasoning that the women were asleep and Jack just stumbled upon them is ludicrous at worst and flimsy at best.


                            • #29

                              HR’s research is ‘unsurpassed’ we are told; The Five is a ‘magisterial’ account of the victim’s lives.

                              ‘You don’t understand my methodology; read my footnotes’, she screams at critics.


                              Hallie tells us:

                              “An 1844 inquiry undertaken into the state of housing bin populous London districts found that buildings situated in enclosed courts a s narrow alleys, like the one, like the one in which the Walkers lived, ‘were some of the ‘worst conditioned ... badly ventilated and filthy ... in the entire neighbourhood.’ Most families shared one room, the average size of which ‘measured from 8 to 10 feet, by 8 feet, and from 6 to 8 feet from floor to ceiling.’ (5) Into these compact rooms were pushed entire families. Dawes Court, which had once been a large timber-framed and plaster house had been subdivided into, before being apportioned into once more into individually rented rooms, inhabited by no fewer than forty-five individuals.

                              (5) First Report of the Commissioners for Inquiring Into the State of Large Towns and Populous Districts, vol. 1 (London, 1844), pp. 111-13”

                              If you look at the source cited, you’ll see that HR’s methodology of leaving out the bits that she doesn’t like is employed yet again. The report actually says, ‘Each room measure[sic] from 8 to 10 feet by 8, and from 6 to 8 feet from the floor to the ceiling, in the neighbourhood of Field Lane.’

                              Field Lane was on the other side of Holborn in an area that was not consumed by fire in 1666.
                              Hallie presumably couldn’t find a source which supported her claim that Polly had been born in a ‘cramped old room’, so she used a quote about rooms in another area of London and removed the street name.

                              Last edited by MrBarnett; 01-23-2021, 02:07 PM.