Anne Graham Interview - October 1995
Following the Mike Barrett interview on Radio Merseyside, Anne Graham gave her own interview which was broadcast on 4 October 1995. I thought people might be interested in it so I've transcribed that one too.
Hello again, Bob Azurdia here. And in recent weeks the amazing story of the diary owned by the former Liverpool scrap metal dealer, Mike Barrett, has moved in new and increasingly sensational directions. Mike claimed that the diary came to him from a friend named Tony Devereux who died shortly afterwards without revealing where heíd found the manuscript. Mike had his story told in book form by the respected writer Shirley Harrison. The story being that the diary had been written by James Maybrick, victim of a Victorian murder in 1889 and for which his wife Florence was found guilty. The Maybricks lived at Battlecrease House, in Riversdale Road, Aigburth, adjacent to the Liverpool cricket ground. The diary, though, also was signed Jack the Ripper and detailed the horrific killings which terrorised London in 1888. So was James Maybrick also Jack the Ripper? Well the controversy has raged and the diary has been said to be a forgery but itís passed exhaustive forensic tests as has a watch which was bought by Donald (sic) Johnson from a shop in Liscard, Wallasy, about the same time as the diary was published. This had inscribed the initials of James Maybrick as well as the scratched initials of all the Whitechapel victims plus the chilling line ďI am JackĒ. Well Mike Barrett claimed that pressure following the diaryís publication helped lead him to alcoholism and also divorce. His former wife, Anne, now Anne Graham, having reverted to her maiden name, has helped fuel the controversy. Just as the book was due to be published she made a sworn statement to the effect that sheís known all her adult life where the diary had been and had actually been responsible for it coming into her husbandís possession via Tony Devereux. Anne, youíve certainly helped muddy the waters somewhat.
AG: Yes, that is correct. Um, first of all, Iíd like to tell you the story from the beginning if thatís of any help. Iíll just give you a brief outline of the story. In 1968 we were moving house and I found the diary Ė it isnít ďdiariesĒ by the way, itís one journal Ė in a tin trunk in a cupboard which contained 20 years of junk.
BA: Who is ďweĒ moving house at this time?
AG: My father and myself. We lived with my maternal grandmother.
BA: So this was before you were married?
AG: Yes, I was about 17, 18 at the time. Erm, I found the journal and I took it to my father and I asked-
BA: You found it?
AG: Yes, I asked him where it had come from. He said to me his stepmother had given it to him in 1950 and said his granny had left it to him. It was more than 20 years later when I seen the diary again when my father gave it to me.
BA: So you put it back then in the trunk?
AG: I give it back to my father and he put it wherever he put it I donít know.
BA: Yes and when you found it that first time did you study it, did you read it, or did you examine it in any depth or what?
AG: I did read a little bit of it, not all of it. People say to me well what was your reaction when you found a document written by Jack the Ripper, which it is signed, but really and truly I didnít have any great reaction because Jack the Ripper was something like Springheeled Jack, merely a bogeyman of my youth, so I just wanted to know where it came from basically.
BA: But you did read enough of it at that time to appreciate that it was written by -
BA: Or purported to be written by someone like Jack the Ripper?
AG: Yes, yes.
BA: And you were horrified? Shocked?
AG: Well I was a bit surprised which was the reason why I asked my father where it had come from.
BA: And he gave no other explanation?
AG: That was the explanation he gave and thatís what I accepted, in those days one didnít argue with oneís father and I didnít.
BA: No indeed, no indeed, but you had no other suspicion that there was more to it?
AG: I thought it had probably been stolen and ended up in our house by - for some reason in the past.
AG: Well you know, pinched, just suddenly arrived, I couldnít see what connection we could possibly have with it.
BA: But who would have stolen it?
AG: Well I donít know-
BA: Youíre not really seriously Ė
AG: Oh not my father, somebody in the past. I just have no idea how it got there.
BA: No. Alright. Well then it finally did come into your possession some time later.
AG: Yes, I took it home with me and I hid it. I didnít tell anybody about it.
AG: I felt uncomfortable about. I didnít like it and I just hid it.
BA: Well, why did you keep it?
AG: Well I didnít destroy it which I suppose was another alternative.
BA: Destroy it or put it in the bin or get rid of itÖ
BA: Öif you just didnít want it.
AG: I donít know, I just put it away and forgot about it as it had been forgotten previously.
BA: Where did you put it?
AG: I put it behind, erm, a large cupboard in the middle bedroom, it was just popped down the back.
BA: And all this time your husband, Mike, didnít know about it.
BA: Not at all?
BA: Why didnít you tell him?
AG: I just didnít want to. We were not sharing a great deal at that time, perhaps, and I just didnít tell him.
BA: Did you tell anyone?
BA: No girlfriend or other relation?
AG: No, I just put it away and forgot about it. I wasnít interested in it. Didnít want to know about it.
BA: Did you do a similar sort of thing with any other possessions of yours?
AG: Well I did use the cupboard for one or two other things, yes.
BA: That you wanted almost to forget about?
AG: Well that were my -
BA: Put out of the way?
BA: You did?
BA: So this was not unique in this sense then.
AG: No, no, I think every woman has her own little hidey hole and that was mine.
BA: So why did it emerge again?
AG: Well some time after that I very much on the spur of the moment, I was going through a bad time and I decided to hand the diary to my husband via a third person in order for it to be used as a basis of a novel. Now this reasoning sounded pretty good to me at the time, I really canít explain it. Anyway this is what I did.
BA: Why through a third person?
AG: Because I didnít want it to be connected with me.
BA: Why not?
AG: I had my reasons. I had what I felt were very good reasons at the time.
BA: Canít you elaborate on these Ė
AG: Iíd rather not because it is connected with my marriage and I donít want to go into that.
BA: Well what about the name Graham because thereís a connection with the name Graham surely which is supposed to link possibly with the name of the MaybricksÖ
BA: Öand possibly with yourself?
AG: Um, this was information that Paul Feldman found out. It is documented apparently. When Florence Maybrick came out of prison she called herself Graham. And when she died they found an address book and all the Gís had been torn out of the address book. So Paul Feldman at this point was absolutely certain that there was a connection between me and the diaries, oh the diary (laughs).
BA: Because she called herself Graham and your name was Graham.
AG: And there were other things which I canít think of to be honest.
BA: Were there?
AG: I think so.
BA: Other possible links?
AG: Other possible links but you would have to ask Paul Feldman about that. Itís very complicated.
BA: Now what about your father in all this? Did you ever discuss it with him?
AG: Yes, a few times. What happened was when I eventually told Paul Feldman which was eight months after the separation and it was really just to get him off peopleís back, he had done a very intensive research.
BA: Paul had?
AG: Yes and, you know, people who really had nothing whatsoever to do with the Diary were getting upset with the intrusion into their lives over it and I felt I had to bring it to an end. I contacted Paul and we had a long conversation, he told me about the Graham connection which I didnít know about, and, erm, we decided to interview my father. Now my father was very ill at the time, he had cancer and he was terminally ill and the most important thing to me at that time was that the rest of his life should be happy and contented and as comfortable as possible. So I didnít want a lot of people coming to him asking him questions and I didnít know how he was going to react to them anyway. I did ask him would he have an interview with Paul and he said yes. So when Paul had the interview, it was during that time that my father confirmed to him that Florence Maybrick to his knowledge had had an illegitimate child, he suggested that his father was that illegitimate child and this was the first time Iíd ever heard about it. I was quite surprised. That interview was taped and documented. My father then died the following November, which was last November.
BA: So that was the first time that any possible genuine link was verified? It was your fatherÖ
BA:Öwho actually said he believed that he was the illegitimate grandson of Florence Maybrick?
AG: Yes, he certainly seemed to believe that.
BA: He seemed to believe this, yes.
AG: Or he certainly indicated it, letís put it that way.
BA: Yes this was his belief at the time, his feeling at the time and this is what has come through to you and this is on tape somewhere with Paul Feldman.
AG: Yes, yes, it is on tape, yes.
BA: Iíd like to clear up if I can, though, Anne why did you, I believe, pass the book on to Tony Devereux?
AG: To pass on to my Ė that Ė
BA: Your husband?
AG: Yes, yes.
BA: But would it not have been just simpler to give it to him?
AG: Much simpler.
BA: Much simpler?
AG: But then I Ė
BA: Because you are recorded as having said that you didnít want to give it to him because he might have felt that you, well, I use a word like patronising.
BA: Öthat he would be too much beholden to you for thisÖ
BA: Öwhich is an odd sort of situation to contemplate?
AG: It might be odd for people to understand, I just have to ask them to understand that as I said, it was part of my marriage, it was the difficulties we were going through and I donít feel able to discuss that.
BA: Well, the difficulties of your marriage apart, the actual mechanics of what happened, you gave it to Tony Devereux who was a mutual friend of the three of yours?
AG: No, he was a friend of mine, Iíd only met him about Ė sorry, a friend of Michaelís, Iíd only met him myself about twice before.
BA: Yes, so what did you say to him? How did you present it to him?
AG: I just -
BA: What happened?
AG: I wrapped it up in brown paper and string, old brown paper I found in a drawer, and I give it to him and I asked him to pass it on to Michael and told him to tell him to do something with it, which he did.
BA: And no more than that?
AG: Very little more that, there was very quick conversation.
BA: How long after that did he pass it on?
AG: It was, it was right away, the following day I think.
BA: Did he say anything to you subsequently?
AG: I never seen Tony after that?
BA: Never saw him again at all?
AG: I donít think I, I donít think I ever seen him again after that.
BA: Because he died fairly recently or very shortly afterwards?
AG: He died, erm, I think it was in the August Iím not sure. But it was fairly soon, a matter of months afterwards. That was quite a surprise as well.
BA: And then when Mike got this into his possession and there came all the searching for where it had been hidden for many years and so on. How did you feel at this time when so many people were searching for its roots for where it had been hidden? He says he thinks it was in the building in which Maybrick had his office.
AG: I felt very guilty over it actually but at that point I didnít think there was anything I could do about it.
BA: Now Iím not for a moment questioning or doubting your word but is there anyone else who could verify what you have to say? Have you brothers, sisters, did anybody else know about it? Aunts? Uncles?
AG: No, no, nobody knew about it.
BA: Literally nobody?
AG: Well as far as I can make out, nobody can, we have done a lot of research in that respect but we canít get anything definite on it, no.
BA: Nobody had ever seen it other than yourself and your father as far as you knew?
AG: As far as Iím aware.
BA: And in those last statements with your father can you recall anything particularly which he said which registered especially with you which would help prove the veracity of the Diary?
AG: There was so much, I really canít think, one of the things he did say to me or he said to, I think it was one of the researchers, Keith, erm, he said if Iíd have known I had a document with perhaps a lot of money in my possession I wouldnít have slogged my guts out in a rubber factory for thirty years. So perhaps that sums up his feelings about it.
BA: So he had retained it all the years but really hadnít appreciated that it was of wider public interest?
AG: I donít think Ė yeah, no, I donít know what he thought about it really.
BA: Did he actually say how it had come into his possessionÖ
BA: ÖI appreciate via the parents and so on.
AG: Yeah well as I said before thatís how he said it come into his possession that his stepmother had brought it to him at the Christmas of 1950 and said that his grandmother had left it. She actually brought other stuff as well that sheíd been holding for him since he came back from India. He was married, I think, in 1948 and heíd left -
BA: Your father?
AG: Yeah, heíd left, erm, papers at her home in a suitcase, stuff heíd sent back from India and the Diary turned up with that suitcase when she brought it round which was actually the year she died.
BA: So is there any possibility of any other documents or any other papers from the period?
AG: Well if there are theyíre gone now.
BA: Have they?
AG: Yeah, I should think so.
BA: Everythingís all been slung?
AG: Oh yeah, years ago.
BA: I mean you donít have access to grandparentsí old stuff still or thereís no suitcases still with stuff in?
AG: To my knowledge, no.
BA: No. Have you looked?
AG: Well thereís nowhere to look really, my fatherís gone now, that was the last bastion, weíve spoken to an old aunt who was still alive and she hasnít got anything and another aunt who actually just died a few months back and she never had anything that we could find.
BA: What do you feel about it yourself now, now that you suddenly find yourself thrust into a very unusual prominence after leading, if I may say, an ordinary lifeÖ
AG: An ordinary life, yes.
BA:Öand then suddenly you find that you are possibly the direct descendent of a mass murderer?
AG: Ha ha, no, well actually if itís what we think it is, or what Paul Feldmanís researchers indicated, itís Florence that Iím connected with and she was not a mass murderer.
BA: She might have been a one-off killer?
AG: Well she was, I think, an ordinary woman in an extraordinary situation who managed to survive. That sums up Florence I think, erm, perhaps her husband was a mass murderer, I donít know (laughs).
BA: But do you feel different because of this?
AG: No, I feel very silly actually, erm, about it all. I feel very embarrassed. I donít like coming to give interviews. Iím a private person and I donít want everybody knowing my business. Um, thatís been the biggest problem of it I suppose.
BA: Nonetheless you are now involving yourself in further research.
AG: Yes because I got interested in it, mainly I got interested in the Florence Maybrick side, the Ripper leaves me cold actually (laughs).
BA: Yeah I think he left a lot of people that way (laughter).
AG: Well there are a lot of people who are very, very, interested in the Ripper I appreciate this.
BA: Yes, well so now what direction is your research taking because I know that you are working to some extent with Paul Feldman and hopefully towards a film?
AG: Erm, yes the film deal came through some time ago as far as Iím aware, I donít really know a great deal about it. The last thing I heard was that the script was actually being written but how far theyíve got on that I donít know.
BA: So what are you actually doing with regard to research?
AG: Erm, still carrying on with research. I help out typing up documents and stuff like that really, erm, anything more or less. Sort of really on a voluntary basis, itís just an interest.
BA: I wondered, though, whether you are pursuing other relations or other directions?
AG: Well there are full time researchers and this is being done constantly, There are three full time researchers working on descendants, you know, birth certificates and death certificates trying to pick out descendants of different people because itís not just my line theyíre researching but the Maybrick line as well and anybody connected or anybody who might have a history of the family or know something about different people associated with it like James Maybrickís mistress who was, erm, or mistresses I should say, there was probably quite a few of them, I mean, anybody associated with the Ripper or Florence Maybrick at all.
BA: Theyíre all being pursued at this time?
AG: Yes, yes.
BA: How much more do you know about the Graham link though? Have you have any idea yet as to who Florenceís Graham partner could have been?
AG: Well erm -
BA: If indeed he did exist.
AG: Yeah, if indeed he did exist. Iím not really sure, itís all part of the research and Iím not terribly sure. There have been people brought forward. At one point we thought, we wondered whether the Baronessí husband who was Florenceís stepfather, the Baron Von Roques, we wondered whether he perhaps could have been the father of Florenceís child, we pursued that particular line. There could be - there was quite a few people. She did have a few lovers I think over a Ė
BA: A few?
AG: Yeah weíre fairly certain.
BA: Not just Mr Brierley?
AG: Not just Mr Brierley, no, um, thereís some evidence to suggest that perhaps Edwin was a lover, who was Jamesí brother, and there was Williams who was a solicitor in London so we donít really know how many, perhaps, before that.
BA: How much closer do you think you are towards finding out who your grandfather was then and your great grandfather?
BA: Because surely that shouldnít be too difficult to find.
AG: Youíd have thought not, um, the thing is, since weíve been investigating things like birth certificates weíve discovered that theyíre not always written to the person we thought they were written to. Things happened - in Victorian times if a girl became pregnant she had two options, one was abortion and one was adoption there was really nothing in between, and there were people Ė
BA: Or the workhouse?
AG: Well yes, the people would advertise to adopt children. Now, thereís a possibility that when they did this they registered it in their own name. Now, if this happened, we donít know for certain, but itís a possibility it could have happened to my fatherís father. He was, erm, registered in the name of Graham.
BA: He was?
BA: Well whatís his first name?
BA: William also?
AG: Yes, and that line is a proper line for Graham, thereís nothing strange about it as far as we can see, um, so, you know, itís all supposition, you donít really know, erm Ė
BA: No, you donít really knowÖ
BA: Öitís as simple or as complicated as that. Were the Grahams all from the same area would you know?
AG: Erm, well no, again, the history of my fatherís life is quite complicated by itself anyway because his mother was a widow when she married my fatherís father and she had six children.
BA: Your grandmother was a widow?
AG: Right, with six children when she married William Graham who was my fatherís father.
AG: They then went on to have three other children.
AG: One was my father, one died and then thereís the other auntie. She then died in 1918.
BA: Your grandmother?
AG: Yes, Rebecca died during the big flu epidemic and for some reason my grandfather split up the family which made the other children very bitter because they were their own brothers and sisters, only half but born to them when they were growing up and erm the three children of my father, of my grandfather, were sent to live in Hartlepool where he had initially come from and then later on my grandfather married again within about eighteen months I think and he brought the three children back and they were brought up with a stepmother.
BA: So itís a complicated family.
AG: Itís very, very, complicated.
BA: Oh yes. But nonetheless there is still a continuing Graham thread which you can pick through as long as you go to your father and his father, his natural fatherÖ
AG: Thatís right.
BA:Ö and look beyond if you possibly can.
AG: The other point is that my grandfather was actually thrown out of his home when he was about thirteen or fourteen and told to make his way in the world because there was no more money any more so that made us wonder: was it because whatever money had been coming in to keep him had just dried up?
BA: It is a continuing fascinating story and you tell it with great conviction but I have to ask, there are allegations that you personally wrote it or commissioned it to be written.
AG: Yes I know there are, erm, the latest one I heard was that I wrote it because I am an ardent feminist and I wanted to spotlight the feminist movement, this is as ridiculous as any of the other ones actually (laughs). But, I mean, youíre right these strange things do come up occasionally.
BA: You didnít write it?
AG: No, I didnít write it (laughs then coughs).
BA: Would you suspect that it was a forgery or a hoax not necessarily by your own hand but earlier on?
AG: Well there is a possibility it is a contemporary forgery, we just donít know. All I can say is that I seen the diary in 1968.
BA: That was the first time? í68?
AG: Hmmm, my father seen it in 1950 but before that, I mean, itís anybodyís guess, I donít know, itís up to the historians to tell us, to look at the information and be guided by that and decide, you know, where did it come from.
BA: You are saying yes it might be a hoaxÖ
BA:Öit might be a forgery but not, certainly, subsequent to 1950.
AG: Thatís correct, thatís the only thing I can say, yeah.
BA: What about the watch, do you have any knowledge of the watch?
AG: Er, a little bit, I donít know a great deal about the watch. Erm, that came up, erm, just before the actual, the first book was published we heard about the watch and when we first heard of it I thought ďOh my god, I donít believe itĒ, you know, but over a period of time the information weíve got about it, it seems to be perfectly genuine. I mean, I was telling you before, I met Albert Johnson.
BA: Who is the gentleman who bought it?
AG: Who is the owner of the watch, he is a very nice gentleman, he is a retired Ė Iíve no reason to doubt his word whatsoever.
BA: No, but possibly it was planted, thatís the allegation.
AG: Well, I really donít know because I really know very little about the watch.
BA: Well the jewellery Ė the jewellers say that it has been in their possession for a minimum of eight years and possibly thirteen.
AG: Yes, something like that, yeah, yeah, it was well before the diary came onto the scene apparently.
BA: And whatís next then, what happens next?
AG: Well we just carry on with the research, perhaps this programme will find us people who know something else about any of the families involved which is always helpful. Um, strange things that keep happening will probably continue to keep happening I donít know (laughs).
BA: And what about the money side of things Anne, have you made a lot of money out of this?
AG: No, no.
BA: Have you made any money out of it?
AG: Well, very Ė not a great deal, the research, the expenses from the publisher, there has been an incredible lot, and really there hasnít been much money made out of it at all.
BA: But if thereís a film made you might?
AG: Well I think most of even the advance from the film has been ate up in expenses. There has been a little bit of money but not a great deal.
BA: Almost everybody involved talks about the curse of the Ripper and how it has adversely affected them and their life. Have you felt this too?
AG: I donít know whether things would have happened the same anyway. There are a lot of coincidences throughout, there were strange coincidences we found out in the research that really didnít indicate anything but absolutely made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, I mean there was one I find fascinating but it doesnít mean anything but when Florence Maybrick died, the date she - the body was found, was the 23rd of October, the doctors decided she probably died on the 22nd. I was born on the 23rd of October and my daughter was born on the 22nd now it doesnít mean anything but itís creepy (laughs).
BA: Yes, yes indeed, yes indeed it is creepy, the whole thing is creepy. Do you wish that it had not happened at all?
AG: Oh yes.
BA: Do you?
AG: Oh yes. I do.
BA: So you regret now giving the book to Tony Devereux?
AG: Absolutely yes.
AG: I just do. I mean, I think the diary has affected a lot of people. It seems to have affected personalities, what people do and I think it was better left unread.
BA: Perhaps it would have been better had you simply produced it and given it straight away to a professional writer saying, ďLook I found this I donít know whether itís true, false or what have you, make of it what you will.Ē Would that have been better?
AG: Perhaps it would have been better. I donít know. It would have still come out.
BA: Because we had the waters continually muddied as to where the thing actually emerged.
AG: Thereís certainly been a lot of confusion over it in the past, yes.
BA: So why ultimately did you come out and say look, yes I did, I had it all the time?
AG: Well mainly because of the continual research by Paul Feldman which was interrupting peoplesí lives which was extremely annoying plus I felt very guilty that these people were being annoyed because of something Iíd done and I wanted to stop it.
BA: Despite the fact that already a book had been written andÖ
BA: Ö.everything was going on?
AG: Hmmm, it was the only way I could think of stopping it.
BA: Because some people may say you thought it was a way of stopping it whichÖ
AG: Yes, fair enough, some people would say that.
BA:Öwhich may not necessarily have been accurate.
AG: Yes, well some people will say what they want. I mean, people will believe what they want to believe in the end. Some people, itís not in their best interests to believe it because they have a lot tied up in the Ripper industry if you like. I donít know because I donít have that information to be able to say it is genuine. Thereís a possibility James Maybrick wrote it but was James Maybrick the Ripper? I donít know that.