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Go Back   Casebook Forums > Ripper Discussions > Suspects > Maybrick, James

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  #1  
Old 02-03-2018, 06:52 AM
Chris Jones Chris Jones is offline
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Default Who was the author of the 'Maybrick' diary? Some options.

I very rarely read or post anything on these message boards. The main reason for my inactivity is that in the past, when I organised the Trial of James Maybrick event in Liverpool, I was the subject of some quite unpleasant and, in some case, totally untrue statements. I also found that too many of the people who contributed to the Maybrick debate had fixed opinions on the diary saga and were simply not prepared to listen to the views of the other camp. Despite my misgivings, I have decided to put my toe back in the water of the diary debate and venture a few opinions on the subject.

I think there are four (main) possible sources for the author of the diary. I remain open-minded about all four; however, I think the weight of evidence points to it being a forgery.

Firstly, it was written by James Maybrick, either because he actually was Jack the Ripper or because he was a fantasist. This viewpoint, though in my opinion unlikely, is too easily dismissed by some diary critics. After all, twenty-five years after its appearance, the diary has not definitely been proved to be a forgery. Also, some very prominent criminal psychologists have said that the diary text does indicate that its author was someone with a very tortured mind-set. Some circumstantial evidence has pointed at Maybrick being a credible candidate to be JtR, such as his knowledge and visits to London and his erratic behaviour at the time of the Ripper murders due to chronic drug abuse. On the other hand, there are clearly major problems with the diary being the genuine article. For example, why is not written in James’s own handwriting? He clearly wasn’t hiding his identity so there was no reason to disguise his handwriting. Could a sick and dying man really place the diary under the floorboards of his room without anyone hearing or discovering the fact? Very unlikely, if not impossible. There are mistakes and inaccuracies in the text of the diary and there is that crucial ‘tin match box empty’ quote. Those four striking words cannot be easily dismissed as some have sought to do.

Secondly, it was written by Michael Maybrick. This is a very unlikely view, but it has to be dealt with following the publication of Bruce Robinson’s brilliant, but deeply flawed book. He suggests that Michael wrote the diary to frame his brother. This of course, doesn’t explain why he didn’t write the diary in James’s handwriting or why he hid the diary if he wanted it to be discovered. The book also contains numerous factual errors in relation to the Maybrick story (which I have previously outlined in an article for the Whitechapel Society journal). These factual errors are so damning that I feel that this viewpoint has little credibility.

Thirdly, it is an old forgery. This viewpoint is rarely discussed but it ticks a lot of the question boxes. Interestingly, a few people closely connected with the Maybrick case, came to live at Battlecrease after the Maybricks moved out. For example, Fletcher Rogers, who was the chairman of the jury at the inquest into James Maybrick’s death. Such people would have known a lot of the personal details of the Maybricks’ lives, such as James Maybrick occasionally being referred to as Sir James. If the diary was written in the 1920s as one of the scientific tests suggested, there are other possible suspects for the author of the diary, at least one of whom lived in Battlecrease and had a probable dislike of the Maybricks. Someone living at the house could have also very easily placed a diary under the floorboards (if that actually happened).

Fourthly, it is a modern forgery. If this is the case, then Michael Barrett has to be involved in some capacity. Having spoken to Mike on several occasions and meeting him once in his house, I am totally convinced that if he was involved, he did not act alone. If the diary is a modern fake, it is not a crude one, but is a very clever one. Effort was made to intertwine two narratives, the Ripper and Maybrick stories. An authentic Victorian album was bought and care was taken to get ink that could be mistakenly identified as Victorian in origin. If it is a modern forgery, then a post-1987 date would appear likely as that would help explain the ‘tin match box, empty quote which I think is a highly significant line in the diary.

One final thought for you. Could the information in the diary about the Maybrick story and the Ripper killings be easily gleaned from modern or from old sources? The answer to that is, yes. I know that for a fact as I have completed that exercise. Try it yourself. I used just two pre-1988 books on the Ripper murders and one pre-1988 book on the Maybrick saga to rather easily and successfully recreate what the diary has to say about these two story-lines. The only line that caused me a problem was the ‘Sir Jim’ reference; however, that line fits in with the text that precedes it and could have easily been written by a clever forger. I used one old Maybrick book and one old Liverpool newspaper (from different dates) to again easily and successfully recreate what the diary has to say about the Maybricks and the Ripper murders. Again, I had a problem with just one line, this time it was the ‘tin match box empty’ reference. Let me give you just one example of my efforts:

Extract from the diary (page 60) – ‘Fuller believes that there is ‘very little the matter with me.’

Old Forgery (?) Extract from the J. H. Levy (1899) book (page 78) – [Dr Charles Fuller giving evidence at Florence’s trial] “The examination last over an hour…I told him there was very little the matter with him.”

Modern forgery – extract from the B. Ryan (1977) book (page 42) – ‘Michael recommended his doctor, Charles Fuller…he told the patient that he could find very little the matter wrong with him.’

So which of the four options listed above is my preferred selection. Well for those of you who are going to the event organised by Chris George in Baltimore this April, you will hear my considered choice and I will be expanding on my views in much more detail and providing evidence to justify my selection. For the moment, let me just say that while I am still exploring all four options, I do NOT think that the diary was written by James Maybrick. In an article I am currently working on, I have identified (so far) twenty-three reasons why James Maybrick was not the author of the diary, e.g. such as the handwriting issue I mentioned previously.

What option would you select and why?
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  #2  
Old 02-03-2018, 08:59 AM
James_J James_J is offline
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Hi Chris!

Just passing this along from Keith. Speak soon!

Best, James


TO CHRIS JONES


Thanks for your post Chris.

Only a few questions from me...


Are you able to identify the dates when you spoke with and met Mike Barrett?


On those occasions, was Mike saying he had or hadn’t created the diary?


Mike was scheduled to appear at your event in Liverpool in May 2007 (The Trial Of James Maybrick). He didn’t turn up. Was he coming to make the case for him (Mike) faking the diary or not faking it?


And did he ever give a reason why he failed to appear?


Every Good Wish, Keith
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  #3  
Old 02-03-2018, 11:09 AM
Abby Normal Abby Normal is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Jones View Post
I very rarely read or post anything on these message boards. The main reason for my inactivity is that in the past, when I organised the Trial of James Maybrick event in Liverpool, I was the subject of some quite unpleasant and, in some case, totally untrue statements. I also found that too many of the people who contributed to the Maybrick debate had fixed opinions on the diary saga and were simply not prepared to listen to the views of the other camp. Despite my misgivings, I have decided to put my toe back in the water of the diary debate and venture a few opinions on the subject.

I think there are four (main) possible sources for the author of the diary. I remain open-minded about all four; however, I think the weight of evidence points to it being a forgery.

Firstly, it was written by James Maybrick, either because he actually was Jack the Ripper or because he was a fantasist. This viewpoint, though in my opinion unlikely, is too easily dismissed by some diary critics. After all, twenty-five years after its appearance, the diary has not definitely been proved to be a forgery. Also, some very prominent criminal psychologists have said that the diary text does indicate that its author was someone with a very tortured mind-set. Some circumstantial evidence has pointed at Maybrick being a credible candidate to be JtR, such as his knowledge and visits to London and his erratic behaviour at the time of the Ripper murders due to chronic drug abuse. On the other hand, there are clearly major problems with the diary being the genuine article. For example, why is not written in James’s own handwriting? He clearly wasn’t hiding his identity so there was no reason to disguise his handwriting. Could a sick and dying man really place the diary under the floorboards of his room without anyone hearing or discovering the fact? Very unlikely, if not impossible. There are mistakes and inaccuracies in the text of the diary and there is that crucial ‘tin match box empty’ quote. Those four striking words cannot be easily dismissed as some have sought to do.

Secondly, it was written by Michael Maybrick. This is a very unlikely view, but it has to be dealt with following the publication of Bruce Robinson’s brilliant, but deeply flawed book. He suggests that Michael wrote the diary to frame his brother. This of course, doesn’t explain why he didn’t write the diary in James’s handwriting or why he hid the diary if he wanted it to be discovered. The book also contains numerous factual errors in relation to the Maybrick story (which I have previously outlined in an article for the Whitechapel Society journal). These factual errors are so damning that I feel that this viewpoint has little credibility.

Thirdly, it is an old forgery. This viewpoint is rarely discussed but it ticks a lot of the question boxes. Interestingly, a few people closely connected with the Maybrick case, came to live at Battlecrease after the Maybricks moved out. For example, Fletcher Rogers, who was the chairman of the jury at the inquest into James Maybrick’s death. Such people would have known a lot of the personal details of the Maybricks’ lives, such as James Maybrick occasionally being referred to as Sir James. If the diary was written in the 1920s as one of the scientific tests suggested, there are other possible suspects for the author of the diary, at least one of whom lived in Battlecrease and had a probable dislike of the Maybricks. Someone living at the house could have also very easily placed a diary under the floorboards (if that actually happened).

Fourthly, it is a modern forgery. If this is the case, then Michael Barrett has to be involved in some capacity. Having spoken to Mike on several occasions and meeting him once in his house, I am totally convinced that if he was involved, he did not act alone. If the diary is a modern fake, it is not a crude one, but is a very clever one. Effort was made to intertwine two narratives, the Ripper and Maybrick stories. An authentic Victorian album was bought and care was taken to get ink that could be mistakenly identified as Victorian in origin. If it is a modern forgery, then a post-1987 date would appear likely as that would help explain the ‘tin match box, empty quote which I think is a highly significant line in the diary.

One final thought for you. Could the information in the diary about the Maybrick story and the Ripper killings be easily gleaned from modern or from old sources? The answer to that is, yes. I know that for a fact as I have completed that exercise. Try it yourself. I used just two pre-1988 books on the Ripper murders and one pre-1988 book on the Maybrick saga to rather easily and successfully recreate what the diary has to say about these two story-lines. The only line that caused me a problem was the ‘Sir Jim’ reference; however, that line fits in with the text that precedes it and could have easily been written by a clever forger. I used one old Maybrick book and one old Liverpool newspaper (from different dates) to again easily and successfully recreate what the diary has to say about the Maybricks and the Ripper murders. Again, I had a problem with just one line, this time it was the ‘tin match box empty’ reference. Let me give you just one example of my efforts:

Extract from the diary (page 60) – ‘Fuller believes that there is ‘very little the matter with me.’

Old Forgery (?) Extract from the J. H. Levy (1899) book (page 78) – [Dr Charles Fuller giving evidence at Florence’s trial] “The examination last over an hour…I told him there was very little the matter with him.”

Modern forgery – extract from the B. Ryan (1977) book (page 42) – ‘Michael recommended his doctor, Charles Fuller…he told the patient that he could find very little the matter wrong with him.’

So which of the four options listed above is my preferred selection. Well for those of you who are going to the event organised by Chris George in Baltimore this April, you will hear my considered choice and I will be expanding on my views in much more detail and providing evidence to justify my selection. For the moment, let me just say that while I am still exploring all four options, I do NOT think that the diary was written by James Maybrick. In an article I am currently working on, I have identified (so far) twenty-three reasons why James Maybrick was not the author of the diary, e.g. such as the handwriting issue I mentioned previously.

What option would you select and why?
Mike Barrett for all the obvious reasons.
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quite tallies with the descriptions I got of him."

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  #4  
Old 02-03-2018, 12:31 PM
Spider Spider is offline
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James Maybrick
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  #5  
Old 02-03-2018, 01:13 PM
Scott Nelson Scott Nelson is offline
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I'll opt for an old forgery. George Grossmith as penman with help from Harry Jackson Wells Dam.
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  #6  
Old 02-04-2018, 03:48 AM
Chris Jones Chris Jones is offline
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Hi James and Keith.

I cannot give you all the dates that I spoke to Mike Barrett. Most of them were phone calls from him and they could occur at any time, day and occasionally, night. I went around to his house in Ainsdale in 2008. He was extremely pleasant and hospitable, he had even made me some salmon sandwiches. I must have been there for some 2 to 3 hours. He talked at length about how his life had been turned upside down by the diary and he openly admitted some of his mistakes and drinking issues. As to the provenance of the diary, he had returned to his original (1992) account, that it was given to him by TD and that he did not fake it. He said that he made up the stories about him faking the diary at a time when his life was in freefall; his marriage was breaking up and he was drinking heavily. I left his house feeling quite sorry for him. If he did fake the diary, he may have made some money, but the personal cost out-weighed any financial gain.

One thing he did do during our time together, was to show me some of his own writing. His handwriting was very different to that of the author of the diary. Also, the text that he had written contained numerous spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Of course, it could all have been an act to mislead me, but I do not think so. If he was involved in a modern forgery, then someone else certainly helped him and that person did the actual writing.

As to the trial event that I organised, I did not originally invite Mike. He rang me one day, a few weeks before the trial, and demanded a slot at the event so he could give his version of what happened. (I do not know exactly what he was going to say.) I gladly agreed to his request, but sadly he did not turn up. He gave no reason at that time for his non-arrival. Later, when I met him, he said he didn't turn up as he had issues with some of the people who were going to the event. He did not elaborate on that statement and I did not ask him any further questions on that particular issue.

Best wishes, Chris
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  #7  
Old 02-04-2018, 04:45 AM
John Wheat John Wheat is offline
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It was clearly written by Mike Barrett or someone close to him.
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  #8  
Old 02-04-2018, 04:50 AM
Iconoclast Iconoclast is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Jones View Post
I very rarely read or post anything on these message boards.
Probably the wisest thing you don't do each day, Chris.

James Maybrick wrote the journal and was Jack the Ripper. 95-99% certain.
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  #9  
Old 02-04-2018, 05:05 AM
John Wheat John Wheat is offline
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Garbage
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  #10  
Old 02-04-2018, 06:36 AM
Iconoclast Iconoclast is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Wheat View Post
Garbage
Another post of profound insight from Wheat. I so enjoyed his previous efforts, but 'Garbage' is a crowd-pleaser and a work of seminal genius (after all, it has two whole syllables in it).
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